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DA Announces Change On Charges For Misdemeanor Possession Of Marijuana, Plenty Of Candidates Vying For Seats On City Council, And Migrant In ICE Custody Dies In Houston

These are some of the stories Houston Public Media is covering.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Top afternoon stories:

Marijuana plant.

DA Announces Change On Charges For Misdemeanor Possession Of Marijuana

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced on Tuesday her office will only accept criminal charges for misdemeanor possession of marijuana if a lab test result proves that the evidence seized has a THC concentration of more than 0.3 percent.

THC, technically named tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive element in cannabis. 

Ogg said in a news release that the new guideline is based on a state law passed this year by the Legislature that creates a State of Texas Hemp Production Plan and allows farmers to grow hemp as a crop. 

The text of the law establishes that hemp is considered to have a maximum THC concentration of 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.

In Texas, possession of four ounces or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor. The DA said her office will work under the premise that in misdemeanor cases, if the THC concentration is less than 0.3 percent, the substance is hemp. A THC concentration greater than 0.3 percent would be classified as marijuana.

The Houston City Council has approved an agreement with Harris County that will allow its Flood Control District to buy out several houses that got flooded during the Memorial Day flood of 2015.Plenty Of Candidates Vying For Seats On Houston City Council

The field of candidates for mayor of Houston is growing by the day, in turn fueling a surge of contenders for seats on City Council.

All 16 seats on Houston City Council are up for election this year, including six open seats. The Office of the City Secretary confirms that more than 70 potential candidates have expressed an interest in running.

“The opportunities in the mayoral race are also spurring more people to get involved,” said political analyst Nancy Sims. “There were some upsets the last time, and people see the opportunity to get in there and make a difference. We have a higher political engagement from a younger generation, and we’re seeing that reflected in the candidates as well.”

In districts where multiple candidates are competing, runoffs are likely. The deadline to file paperwork to get on the ballot is August 19.

Honduran Migrant In ICE Custody Dies In Houston Hospital

A Honduran migrant has died in the custody of federal immigration agents after falling ill at a Houston detention facility.

According to a statement Monday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Yimi Alexis Balderramos-Torres died Sunday morning in a suburban Houston hospital after he was found unresponsive in his dormitory.

ICE reports Border Patrol had taken the 30-year-old man into custody after encountering him during a routine traffic stop on May 27. That was 10 days after he’d been returned to Mexico after finding him illegally in El Paso, Texas. He was turned over to ICE agents June 6 and transferred on June 18 to the Houston Contract Detention Facility near George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

The man previously was found in the United States and ordered returned to Honduras in 2018.