Could the FDA Soon Be Treating Hemp CBD as a Dietary Supplement?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may soon change its tune on hemp-derived CBD (Hemp CBD) thanks to a bill recently filed by chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) and cosponsored by Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY), James Comer (R-KY) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME).

HR 5587 is an Act “To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act [(FDCA)] with respect to the regulation of hemp-derived cannabidiol and hemp-derived cannabidiol containing substances.” As of the time of this writing, the bill’s text is not available on Congress.gov but is provided by Marijuana Moment’s Kyle Jaeger, who wrote a great article on the bill.

If passed in its current form, HR 5587 would amend the FDCA’s definition of dietary supplement (21 U.S.C. 321(ff)(3)(B)) as shown below in bold:

The term “dietary supplement” does not include—

(i) an article (other than hemp-derived cannabidiol or a hemp-derived cannabidiol containing substance) that is approved as a new drug under section 355 of this title, certified as an antibiotic under section 357 of this title, or licensed as a biologic under section 262 of title 42, or

(ii) an article (other than hemp-derived cannabidiol or a hemp-derived cannabidiol containing substance) authorized for investigation as a new drug, antibiotic, or biological for which substantial clinical investigations have been instituted and for which the existence of such investigations has been made public,

which was not before such approval, certification, licensing, or authorization marketed as a dietary supplement or as a food unless the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, has issued a regulation, after notice and comment, finding that the article would be lawful under this chapter.

The bill would also amend the FDCA to clarify that federal law does not prohibit a person from introducing Hemp CBD into interstate commerce, as shown by the proposed amendments to 21 U.S.C. 331(ll):

The introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of any food to which has been added a drug approved under section 355 of this title, a biological product licensed under section 262 of title 42, or a drug or a biological product for which substantial clinical investigations have been instituted and for which the existence of such investigations has been made public (other than hemp-derived cannabidiol or a hemp-derived cannabidiol containing substance)[.]

This would be a significant change as the FDA has long held that Hemp CBD cannot be classified as dietary supplement because the FDCA’s definition of dietary supplement explicitly exempts any article that is approved or investigated as a drug unless the article was marketed as a dietary supplement or food prior to being publicly investigated as a drug. The FDA’s view is that Hemp CBD was not marketed as such prior to the investigation of CBD as a drug. The FDA could deal with this through regulation, as the FDCA does grant the FDA Secretary the authority to regulate around the definition of dietary supplement. That hasn’t happened, though, and it appears that the FDA is running out of time.

HR 5587, as currently drafted, only would apply to Hemp CBD, not other cannabinoids such as CBN or CBG. The 2018 Farm Bill encompasses all hemp-derived cannabinoids in its definition of “hemp,” so HR 5587 could encompass more than just CBD without having to amend the Farm Bill. It’s likely that this bill was drafted in light of the CBD craze over the last few years, so it isn’t all that surprising that CBD is the only cannabinoid listed. If HR 5587 picks up steam, it will be interesting to see whether the language is revised to encompass other, less popular cannabinoids, in order to prevent recurring problems.

In addition to removing obstacles related to making Hemp CBD a dietary supplement, the bill would also require the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), in consultation with other federal agencies, to submit to Congress a study on the following:

the costs and requirements for establishing and operating a hemp testing program, including the costs and requirements for operating or contracting with a laboratory approved by the Drug Enforcement Agency;
the costs and requirements for the destruction of hemp crops determined to be in excess of 0.3 percent delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol or opportunities for remediation or alternative uses;
the feasibility of producer compliance with sampling timetables;
the feasibility of producer compliance with reporting requirements; and
other known or potential challenges by the participation of States or producers in the domestic hemp production program.

It’s probably too early to tell whether this HR 5587 has a chance to become law. It was presented with bipartisan support, but the legislative process can be unpredictable. Even if this bill does eventually become law, it will likely be subject to significant changes along the way. We simply don’t have enough information at this point to know what will happen.

We do know, however, that HR 5587 sends a clear message to the FDA, and to a lesser extent to the USDA, that lawmakers are not pleased with the treatment of hemp. For the FDA, this seems to be based on the agency’s continued hostility towards Hemp CBD. For the USDA, it seems that lawmakers have heard the backlash against the USDA’s testing requirements including the need to test for total THC at DEA-certified labs.

Remember, federal agencies only exist because of federal lawmakers. They are creatures of statute, statutes that were crafted by lawmakers in Congress. If agencies fail to interpret a statute in the way the legislature wants, it has the unique power to amend the statute. That’s what is happening here.

This may seem like an outright rebuke, but in all fairness to the FDA, former commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb has told Congress that a legislative change may be needed in order for the FDA to regulate Hemp CBD in a timely manner. In addition, the USDA has publicly stated that testing hemp for THC content has proved challenging.

We’ll keep an eye on HR 5587 and all things Hemp CBD. 2020 is likely going to be another big year for cannabis, especially at the federal level. Stay tuned.

Conroe Law Office John E Choate, Jr
Call for FREE Consultation 936.441.2999

Testing drivers for cannabis is hard. Here is why.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/02/business/cannabis-breathalyzers-are-coming-to-market/index.html

As a growing number of states legalize cannabis, health officials are increasingly sounding the alarm for technology that can quickly determine when drivers are stoned.A solution for measuring alcohol intoxication has existed since 1954: the Breathalyzer. No such technology yet exists for cannabis, but several tech startups and university scientists say they’re close to commercializing something resembling a cannabis breathalyzer. Still, others are quick to caution the answer is not that simple. Critics note the technology must detect recent cannabis use and also prove that cannabis in a person’s system impaired his or her driving. A cannabis breathalyzer that does both of those things has proven elusive, because, unlike alcohol, cannabis can stay in people’s bodies long after their “high” has worn off. Cannabis’ largest trade show is pretty ordinary, and that’s what the industry wants“We’re applying the alcohol rules to a substance that doesn’t play by them,” said Nick Morrow, a retired Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department narcotics investigator who now serves as an expert witness in areas such as drug symptomology and field sobriety testing.

Some legalization advocates and lawmakers want cannabis to be regulated like alcohol and a handful of states have established “per se” limits making it inherently illegal to drive with specific concentrations of the psychoactive cannabis compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in one’s system. Although the effects of alcohol have been extensively researched, the same can’t be said for cannabis.Some studies have shown that cannabis consumption can affect response times and motor performance; however, research remains limited and there isn’t conclusive evidence of how cannabis affects people and how to classify impairment. “The National Transportation Safety Board has advised that ‘about two alcoholic drinks’ within an hour will cause a 160-pound male to experience decline in visual functions and in the ability to perform two tasks at the same time,” wrote David Randall Peterman, Congressional Research Service transportation analyst, in a May 2019 report on cannabis use and driving. “Based on current knowledge and enforcement capabilities, it is not possible to articulate a similarly simple level or rate of marijuana consumption and a corresponding effect on driving ability.”

How cannabis can be detected in breath

Yet several companies and scientists say they’re close to a breakthrough: They’ve made advancements in detecting and capturing THC in breath, where it can linger for two to three hours. In July, Clinical Chemistry published the findings of a University of California-San Francisco study that showed THC could be detected in breath for up to three hours after smoking and that there’s a correlation between THC concentrations and blood concentrations for that initial period. The study was sponsored by Oakland, California-based Hound Labs, a venture capital-backed company that has raised $65 million to develop a dual alcohol and THC breathalyzer.

Hound Labs’ THC breathalyzer After a person blows into the handheld Hound device for two minutes, the cartridge is read in a separate bay that acts like a mini mass spectrometer, which can measure the mass and concentration of specific molecules. If THC is detected, the word “warning” will display on the screen. The Hound device is intended to capture and measure tiny particles of THC in human breath to help determine if someone consumed cannabis in the two-to-three hours prior to testing. “We aren’t measuring impairment, we’re measuring THC in breath where it lasts a very short period of time, providing objective data about THC in breath to law enforcement and employers to use in conjunction with other information they have gathered,” said Hound Labs founder Mike Lynn, an emergency room doctor, reserve deputy sheriff and venture capitalist.

The problems with testing drivers for cannabis

Cannabis compounds, notably THC, don’t behave like alcohol does in the body. Alcohol is classified as a depressant that can slow down the nervous system. It’s quickly absorbed in the blood and metabolized quickly, according to the CRS report.Cannabis has a complex interplay with the body’s endocannabinoid system, and its effects can be either immediate or delayed depending on the form of consumption. THC potency can vary in strains and in products. Hybrid strains can be bred to enhance certain effects such as pain relief, anxiety reduction and muscle spasticity, Morrow said, adding that people can have different reactions to cannabis’ effects.Minimal research exists on how cannabis affects driving. Although some of the most notable cannabis research has occurred in Israel, there are longstanding complaints that federal research in the US has been hindered by low-potency and poor-quality cannabis samples. It’s yet to be determined exactly how the hundreds of other compounds in the cannabis plant could potentially affect the testing processes. Further complicating matters are attitudes that it’s safer to drive while high than it is drunk.It’s been difficult to detect and capture THC in breath, leading to some skepticism about the accuracy of the early stage breathalyzers. A battery of peer-review studies showing the devices in action would go a long way, said Brian Clowers, an associate professor of chemistry at Washington State University. The elephant in the room remains that the devices do not determine impairment. Someone could conceivably use or consume a small dose without being high, yet still could have THC detected in their breath. Because pass-fail tests do not prove impairment, that can create problems for patients in the more than 30 US states where cannabis is a legal medicine, said Benton Bodamer, an M&A, private equity and cannabis attorney at Dickinson Wright’s office in Columbus, Ohio.”That’s a recipe for a public health disaster,” he said. “There’s not a pass/fail opioid breathalyzer, so why would some different rules apply in the context of medical cannabis?” Additionally, even the seemingly tried-and-true drug and alcohol tests haven’t been completely foolproof and some states have tossed driving-under-the-influence convictions for technology failures such as poor calibration.An alcohol giant cut bait on a big craft beer holding. What’s next for its even bigger cannabis investment?“Scientific precision requires the absence of bias, for example,” he said. “One look at the mass prosecution, conviction, and incarceration of communities of color for simple non-violent drug possession shows how that particular story ends.”And the issue of impairment is not limited to cannabis.”Anybody who believes you’re going to look at alcohol or other drugs in a vacuum is mistaken,” said Sheriff Justin Smith, of Larimer County in northern Colorado. Smith said that his office continues to see more incidences in which suspects were under the influence of multiple drugs. Some polydrug tests have been increasingly adopted following cannabis legalization. That’s been the case for healthcare company Abbott’s SoToxa rapid mobile drug screening test. The handheld device, which analyzes a saliva sample in five minutes, is being used in Canada, Spain and US states such as Michigan, Alabama and Oklahoma, said Fred Delfino, Abbott’s senior law enforcement liaison.”Because marijuana isn’t the only drug that can cause impairment, Abbott has engineered SoToxa to detect if someone has also recently used cocaine, opiates, benzodiazepines, amphetamines, and methamphetamine, in addition to marijuana,” he said via email.Colorado and other states that legalized cannabis are also turning to Drug Recognition Experts, law enforcement officers that undergo special training to help determine if a person is too impaired to drive.

When cannabis breathalyzers will become available

Research is ongoing. Some scientists are looking at non-traditional and less-invasive roadside approaches to detect impairment from cannabis and other substances. “There’s a really strong push in the field to see what we can do to better determine impairment and behavioral function rather than just rely on fluid measures,” said Thomas Marcotte, the co-director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at UC-San Diego.In the state-funded study at UCSD, scientists are researching whether cognitive assessments on an iPad could aid in field sobriety tests for cannabis-impaired driving. Other clinical trials under way include the establishment of cannabis-specific field sobriety tests and the development of virtual-reality-enabled eye-movement sensors. Research takes time, but there’s a kneejerk reaction to want to implement newly created devices, said Morrow, the former narcotics investigator. Technology and toxicology are not always the answers, he said. “Under the influence signs are not necessarily proof of impairment. Use of marijuana is not a crime. You can drive with bloodshot eyes. You can drive smelling like marijuana. You can drive with an elevated pulse or slightly dilated pupils,” he said. “Under the influence signs along with clear evidence of physical and mental impairment sufficient to affect the operation of a motor vehicle are what is necessary to competently opine a person is impaired due to a particular substance.”If the Hound breathalyzers make their way to market early next year as announced, they initially could see more use on job sites than the roadside. Companies across a variety of industries — and especially those in which workers use vehicles or heavy machinery — expressed interest in the device, Lynn said. Hound Labs’ digital drug sniffer is touted as leading the pack, but other breathalyzer devices appear not to be far behind. Earlier this year, University of Pittsburgh researchers announced they advanced a technology previously used to analyze and identify breath biomarkers for asthma, halitosis and diabetes. Professors Alexander Star and Ervin Sejdic used carbon nanotubes and machine learning to ferret out THC molecules in breath.

Ervin Sejdic (left) and Alexander Star (right) hold the THC breathalyzer prototype they developed at the University of Pittsburgh.

Ervin Sejdic (left) and Alexander Star (right) hold the THC breathalyzer prototype they developed at the University of Pittsburgh.The handheld device is designed to measure the electrical resistance of semiconductor-enriched carbon nanotubes that are 100,000 times smaller than a human hair and are good at conducting electricity. THC and other compounds bind to the surface and change the electrical acoustics. A mathematical algorithm was applied to increasingly select THC over other more volatile components found within breath such as carbon dioxide, water and ethanol. The Pitt crew’s findings were published in the American Chemical Society’s ACS Sensors journal in July.”The device is more or less ready [for a company to commercialize it],” Sejdic said. Drug testing company Lifeloc Technologies (LCTC) earmarked real-time drug tests, notably a THC breathalyzer, as a top priority for research and development dollars. Dräger, an industry leader in the drug testing field, was watching closely as to how this area develops, Brian Shaffer, a company spokesman, told CNN Business last fall.And several breathalyzer technologies are under development in Canada, where adult-use cannabis was legalized in 2018. Nanotechnology is the backbone for startup SannTek Labs’ handheld breath test. Cannabix Technologies (BLOZF) is partnering with researchers at the University of Florida and the University of British Columbia to develop two THC breathalyzer devices, including one that that potentially could be 3D-printed.”It’ll likely be that there will not be one de facto technology,” said Rav Mlait, Cannabix’s chief executive officer.

Domestic Violence On the Rise During the Holidays

For some, the holidays are synonymous with family tension and fighting, especially given the larger quantities of alcohol people often consume during this time. However, according to some studies, this is actually a major misconception. According to a report released by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, statistics do not back up claims that link the holidays to an increase in domestic violence. In fact, according to data from the National Domestic Violence Hotline, there is often a decrease during the holidays.

However, this does not necessarily mean that abusers take a break from violent or controlling behavior. Instead, researchers believe that victims are less likely to call for help during the holiday season, especially if they have children, because they feel pressured to keep the family together. As a result, it is more likely for victims of domestic abuse to reach out for help after the holidays.


Understanding the Myth

Despite evidence to the contrary, people still believe the holidays are a more violent time for families. After all, with the additional financial stressors and visiting family members, it seems only reasonable to assume fights are more likely to break out. Although this myth has effectively been debunked time and time again, the evidence only accounts for reported incidents of domestic violence. It is possible and likely that, despite the drop in calls for help, abuse continues to happen during the holidays. It explains why calls to domestic violence centers experience a rise once the holiday season comes to an end.

Whether there is actually a decrease in domestic violence during the holidays or victims are desperately trying to keep the peace can never be known for sure since these incidents are not always reported. However, one thing is for sure – the holidays can be a troubling time for many families.


Reach Out to an Attorney Today

If you are facing domestic violence charges, you are likely already aware of the severity of this situation. A conviction will become part of your criminal record and can result in severe penalties. A felony conviction can cost you the right to possess a firearm, the right to vote, and you might even lose certain professional licenses. At the Conroe Law Office, John E Choate, Jr.-attorney, will fight on your behalf and help you obtain the best possible results for your case.


Free Consultation

Contact us at (936)441.2999 for a Free Consultation

Who Can Find My Arrest Information? John E Choate, Jr – Attorney at Law

Who Can Find My Arrest Information?                          John E Choate, Jr – Attorney at Law

One of the questions we get frequently is who all has access to arrest records.  How do individuals or local news companies see mugs shots?  There are actually two different answers, depending on what you are asking about.

Public records of any arrest

First, arrest information including a mug shot is considered a public record. That is why you see lists in some newspapers, especially online, of whom all was arrested. That is also how news agencies find out about cases. They monitor the lists, and when someone newsworthy shows up, they start digging. Or if it's a slow news day, they might follow up on something that looks serious (like murder), or interesting.  In Montgomery County, it is a political push to list specific types of arrests.

Records of arrest are generally kept in two places. One is the agency who arrested you, and the other is the jail where the individual was booked into. If someone makes a specific request to either of those places, they have to furnish the information. However, the information that can be released is limited. Generally, it is the date you were arrested, and what the charge or charges were. Offense reports which describe the arrest are not public records, and cannot be disclosed.

Criminal history records

The other type of record is a person’s criminal history. This would include a print out of every time someone has been arrested, and the disposition of that charge. It also includes all court activity, including what happened. This information is confidential, but that only means it cannot be disclosed to the public. Instead, it is only available to certain types of people - generally, those are people associated with law enforcement. That means the press cannot request your criminal history. It also means an employer or potential employer cannot request the information.

Public databases

Since people want this type of information, it’s not surprising that companies have stepped in to fill the demand. There are several companies, which will pull together the public information about someone, and provide that - for a fee. The information they obtain is generally obtained from court records. For example, if charges are filed in court, there is a record of that. The companies go out and get that information, and then put it into their database. Anyone willing to pay can get it. Human Resource Departments utilize companies with these databases to determine hiring eligibility.

Sealing records

What most people want to know is whether these records can be sealed, so no one can access them. The answer depends on what happened with the case. In some cases, records can be expunged, while in other situations an order of non-disclosure can be entered. It's important to know what options might be available BEFORE you make a decision on your case. This is where an experienced criminal defense attorney can help.

There are numerous occasions where the databases have errors OR erroneous information which can cause harm.

Contact the Conroe Law Office to speak with our attorney, John E Choate, Jr to protect your name or if you have any questions.  Consultations are FREE!

johnc@conroelawoffice.com or 936.441.2999

 

Legal Check Up

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Legal Check Up

As we’re coming to the end of the year, it’s time to do a legal check up. It’s the perfect time, since you’re probably getting all your medical, insurance and tax information together for the end of year.

Let’s make sure your personal legal well being is in order and you are protected.

Your attorney can review tax documents to make sure you have adequate records and also review any contracts you’ve signed to make sure you are protected.

Details

If you have had a marriage, divorce, birth or death you may need to revise your will. Your attorney can make sure your spouse and children (grandchildren) are protected and receive the benefits you are leaving for them. If you have young children you will also need to clearly identify who the guardians would be of your children if something should happen to you.

Medical emergencies happen. Your attorney can make sure you have all the legal forms in place, such as health care power of attorney and do you want extraordinary measures taken to save your life or not.

Your attorney can also check your insurance, retirement plans and investment accounts to make sure you are covered and on a healthy track financially.

John E Choate, Jr - Attorney at Law

Just like you need to have a family doctor and yearly checkups, having a family lawyer can keep you legally healthy.
If you need a family lawyer, contact Attorney John Choate Jr at the Conroe Law Office.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent, The Red Flag Law of Texas

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Red Flag Law

Let’s meet Sam and Sally Smith. Law abiding citizens of the great state of Texas. They run their own business, pay their taxes, go to church on Sunday and Wednesday, vote in every election. They are just good people. Sam and Sally enjoy hunting and target shooting on their ranch. Sometimes they will video the target shooting and post it on social media for their friends to enjoy.

Now meet Richard Right. He feels that anyone with a gun is a criminal. He also knows Sam and Sally have a different political affiliation than he does, and he knows anyone who doesn’t think like he does is mentally ill. What can he do? These mentally ill people have guns. But since the great Gov. Abbot passed the Red Flag Law, he can now just go online to the IWatchTexas website and report them. And the best thing...they will never know they are on the LIST. Richard doesn’t even have to give his name.

Sam and Sally are just living their lives never knowing that somewhere some government official is keeping track of them.

If you think this doesn’t happen, ask the people of the former Soviet Union or the Germans.


Red Flag Laws and the 5th Amendment

Fifth Amendment - U.S. Constitution

Fifth Amendment - Rights of Persons
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury , except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Red Flag Laws
In the United States , a red flag law is a gun control law that permits police or family members to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves. A judge makes the determination to issue the order based on statements and actions made by the gun owner in question. Refusal to comply with the order is punishable as a criminal offense. After a set time, the guns are returned to the person from whom they were seized unless another court hearing extends the period of confiscation.

Such orders are known by various names, including "Extreme Risk Protection Orders" (ERPO) (in Oregon , Washington , Maryland , and Vermont ); "Risk Protection Orders" (in Florida ); "Gun Violence Restraining Orders" (in California ); "risk warrants" (in Connecticut ); and "Proceedings for the Seizure and Retention of a Firearm" (in Indiana ). As of August 2019, 17 states and the District of Columbia have passed some form of red-flag law. The specifics of the laws, and the degree to which they are utilized, vary from state to state. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_flag_law#cite_note-LevinsonDunn-7

I Watch Texas Community Reporting System
Welcome to the Texas Suspicious Activity Reporting Network iWatchTexas website, where you can report suspicious activities or behaviors that may indicate criminal, terroristic, or school safety-related threats.

This site is not designed to report emergencies. If this is an emergency, call 911.

Every report will be reviewed by analysts. Although not required, providing your contact information will allow follow up questions, and if you prefer to report by telephone, please contact 844-643-2251

https://iwatchtx.org/
In Gov. Abbot SAR release (report at bottom)

No.4. Educate physicians and behavioral health professionals about the law concerning disclosure of confidential information to law enforcement.

Sounds like to me they want to “educate” them to break the law. Have they never heard of HIPPA?

No. 5. DPS should coordinate with fusion centers across the state to promote continuous improvement and accountability.

The fusion centers are used to collect information on Texans. If you think I’m talking about criminals, no they collect information on innocent people who “anyone” can file a suspicious report on. So Texas is encouraging Texans to spy on other Texans and report them!

Proposal 10.The Legislature should spur cooperation to encourage social media companies to report suspicious activity to law enforcement.

So who exactly at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc are going to be deciding what is suspicious activity?

Our elected officials are trampling over our Constitutional Rights. If we as citizens do not make our voices and votes heard NOW! We and our children will not recognise our State or Country. We will sit around and talk about the good ol’ days when we could think for ourselves.

Make your voice heard to the Governor and all your representatives.

 


Governor Abbott Releases Texas Safety Action Report

September 12, 2019 | Austin, Texas | PressRelease
https://gov.texas.gov/news/category/press-release

Following weeks of meetings with nearly 50 experts in the aftermath of tragedies across the state, Governor Greg Abbott today unveiled the Texas Safety Action Report. The Governor’s report elaborates on the Executive Orders issued last week that are intended to bolster the public safety coordination that can prevent mass shootings. The Texas Safety Action Report also provides additional ideas for the Texas Legislature and state agencies to consider that can make our communities safer while also respecting the Constitution.

Governor Abbott’s Texas Safety Commission convened community leaders, law enforcement officials, federal officials, business representatives, faith leaders, tech experts, counselors, advocates, lawmakers, and survivors of mass shootings to study what has happened, identify any shortcomings in our current systems, and explore ways to prevent these horrific tragedies from taking place. The strategies laid out in the Texas Safety Action Report are a result of these meetings.

"We must act with resolve in response to the despicable acts of violence we have witnessed in Texas," said Governor Abbott. "Solving the problems that have led to these horrific events will take more than governmental action. The complete solution will require more than what is outlined in this paper. It will require parents, families, churches, law enforcement, community groups, schools, and others working together to fortify the social fabric of our society. Texans are at our best when we are tested. Together, we will transcend this test, and forge an even better future for our state."

A summaryof the Texas Safety Action Report can be found below.
Here are the Executive Order and Legislative Proposals from the Governor's report, released on 9/12/19.

Additional Executive Actions:
1. Strengthen Domestic Violence High Risk Teams across the state.
2. Expand law enforcement training offered through the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University, and develop a public awareness campaign for the “Avoid, Deny, Defend” program. http://www.avoiddenydefend.org/
3. Refresh training for all licensed peace officers on the procedures and criteria for “emergency detention.” https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/HS/htm/HS.573.htm
4. Educate physicians and behavioral health professionals about the law concerning disclosure of confidential information to law enforcement.
5. DPS should coordinate with fusion centers across the state to promote continuous improvement and accountability.
https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/analysis/Hous.%20Fusion%20Center%20-%20Privacy%20Policy.pdf
6. Accelerate the development and implementation of the DPS safe firearm storage campaign, supported by the recent $1 million appropriation.

Legislative Proposals

1. The Legislature should consider expediting the reporting of criminal convictions to the Texas Department of Public Safety
2. The Legislature should consider prohibiting straw purchases of firearms under state law. A primary goal is to keep guns out of the hands of criminals while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
3. The Legislature should consider laws that crack down on criminals who try to illegally buy or possess guns.
4. The Legislature should consider laws that crack down on criminals who try to illegally buy or possess guns.
5. The Legislature should consider requiring courts to inform convicted criminals, both orally and inwriting, that they may no longer possess firearms.
6. The Legislature should consider stiffer consequences for criminals convicted of violent offenses.
7. The Legislature could consider requiring that any stolen firearms be reported to the county sheriff within 10 days of when the owner becomes aware of the theft.
8. The Legislature should consider ways to make it easy, affordable, and beneficial for a private seller of firearms to voluntarily use background checks when selling firearms to strangers.
9. The Legislature should consider prohibiting juvenile offenders convicted of certain violent crimes from legally purchasing firearms.
10. The Legislature should spur cooperation to encourage social media companies to report suspicious activity to law enforcement.
11. The Legislature should consider implementing and funding a Texas program, similar to federal initiatives, which uses a multi-pronged strategy of policing and prosecution, agency integration, and identification of violent crime hot spots. The focus would be on criminals with guns, not law-abiding Texans.
12. The Legislature should consider a law that works in conjunction with the proposed federal “Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act” of 2019.

Additional Strategies:
1. The Legislature should work with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to develop strategies to improve parental engagement in schools.
2. When updating the Health TEKS, the State Board of Education (SBOE) should emphasize student mental health issues, including depression, social media immersion, and drug abuse.
3. The Legislature should consider amending state law to ensure schools are notified when former students are arrested.


If you or someone you love has legal needs in Montgomery County, you should seek a qualified attorney such as John E. Choate, Jr who can handle your case with skill.

We are a Conroe Law Office focused on winning your case. Established in Spring 1995, we serve Montgomery, Harris, and the surrounding counties. Founded on the pillars of respect, diligence, and loyalty, we are here to help you through the most difficult times in your life.

Make an appointment TODAY for your free initial consultation.

 

Preparing for Your Divorce

Getting divorced is never fun.

No one grows up dreaming of their divorce. If you are the one considering divorce, you need to plan for the divorce suit like you planned your wedding and marriage. Put your anger or hurt aside and think about the vision you have of your future. Having a qualified attorney help you plan things out will make your life easier. It’s a tough time emotionally, your attorney will be your voice and advocate during the legal process.


Residency requirements for filing a divorce suit:

Sec. 6.301. GENERAL RESIDENCY RULE FOR DIVORCE SUIT.

A suit for divorce may not be maintained in this state unless at the time the suit is filed either the petitioner or the respondent has been:

(1) a domiciliary of this state of Texas for the preceding six-month period; and
(2) a resident of the county in which the suit is filed for the preceding 90-day period.

Sec. 6.302 . SUIT FOR DIVORCE BY NONRESIDENT SPOUSE.

If one spouse has been a domiciliary of this state of Texas for at least the last six months, a spouse domiciled in another state or nation may file a suit for divorce in the county in which the domiciliary spouse resides at the time the petition is filed.

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/FA/htm/FA.6.htm


In Montgomery County, Texas, the judges have agreed that in divorce and child custody cases that affect children, the parties must follow the “Montgomery County Standing Orders. Listed below are some headings of the standing orders.

● No disruption of children
● Protection of family pets or companion animals
● Conduct of the parties during the case
● Preservation of property and use of funds during divorce case
● Personal and business records in divorce case
● Insurance in divorce case
● Specific authorizations in divorce case
● Parties encouraged to mediate

https://www.mctx.org/departments/departments_d_-_f/district_courts/418th_district_court/docs_and_forms.php


If you or someone you love is thinking of filing a divorce suit or have been served with a divorce suit, you should seek a qualified attorney such as John E. Choate, Jr. who can handle your case with skill. Contact Attorney John Choate at the Conroe Law Office.

Texas New Laws

We all have "friends" who work in the legal field whether police, constable, legal assistant or others who we ask advice or to clarify legal rumors.  Sometimes, the best thing to do is to READ the law yourself.  Rumors can really get you trouble.

The 86th Session of the Texas Legislature officially concluded and was gaveled Sine Die, on Monday, May 27th. 7,324 bills were filed during the 86th Texas Legislature and 1,429 of them were passed. If you would like to see them all, a great website to visit is
https://legiscan.com/TX/legislation/2019

We’re going to list a few of the new laws passed and some that have remained unchanged.


Texas Dept. of Transportation Cell phone law

In 2017, the Texas Legislature passed a statewide ban on using a wireless communications device for electronic messaging while operating a motor vehicle. Texting, as well as reading or writing email, is prohibited while driving in Texas.

Many local areas have passed stricter ordinances which completely limit any cell phone use while driving, so it is the responsibility of drivers to learn the laws in their local areas.

Cell Phone Prohibitions

  •  Drivers cannot send or receive electronic messages in Texas.
  •  Drivers with learner's permits are prohibited from using handheld cell phones in the first six months of driving.
  •  Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using wireless communications devices.
  •  School bus operators are prohibited from using cell phones while driving if children are present.
  •  In school zones, all drivers are prohibited from texting and using handheld devices while driving.
  •  Local restrictions: Drivers should become familiar with any ordinances in effect in their local areas. Drivers should contact their local municipality to determine if there are additional laws governing the use of cell phones.

TEXAS — (SEC. 545.412 TEXAS TRANSPORTATION CODE) Child Safety

While the Texas Department of Public Safety often uses the language “booster seat” in their description of the law for “booster”- age children, the actual complete child seat law is as follows:

  •  Any child younger than 8 years of age must be secured in a child passenger safety seat system according to the instructions of the manufacturer of the safety seat system.
  •  In such a case as a child is under 8 years of age but at least four feet nine inches in height, the child may use the vehicle seat belt.

Property Tax Reform

Governor Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 2, which delivers significant property tax reforms that will cap property tax increases without voter approval and provide tax reform to homeowners and businesses across Texas.

Senate Bill 2 lowers the property tax rollback rate to 3.5% for cities and counties. Any increase to this rollback rate in cities, counties, and some special districts will require voter approval and automatically trigger a tax ratification election. This rollback rate will be renamed the voter approval tax rate going forward.

SB 2 also requires taxing units to post their budgets, tax rates, and tax rate calculation worksheets online. The bill makes numerous improvements to the appraisal and protest process, such as prohibiting an Appraisal Review Board (ARB) from increasing the value of a taxpayer property above its initial value, increasing training requirements for ARB members and arbitrators, and entitling taxpayers to the evidence the appraisal district plans to present at their ARB hearing free of charge.

Marijuana, Hemp, and the 2018 Farm Bill

Congress’ 2018 Farm Bill differentiated hemp from marijuana by setting a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) threshold concentration of 0.3%. Anything above 0.3% is still considered marijuana and therefore generally illegal in Texas.

H.B. 1325 Adopted the Federal Framework

The Farm Bill delegated primary authority over how to regulate the production and sale of hemp to the states. H.B. 1325 adopted the 0.3% THC standard (same as the Farm Bill) for distinguishing regulated hemp from prohibited marijuana. Furthermore, H.B. 1325 directs the Texas Department of Agriculture to pass rules requiring hemp producers to be state-licensed and test their products to ensure 0.3% or less THC concentration. Importantly, the law also requires a shipping certificate that confirms the product in transport is legally compliant hemp (no more than 0.3% THC). Failure to have the required certificate during transport is a misdemeanor and also subjects the person to a civil penalty of up to $500 per violation.

In short, H.B. 1325 gave prosecutors more tools to prosecute these crimes, not less, because they can now prosecute a misdemeanor for failure to have a proper hemp certificate.

Red-light cameras banned.

HB 1631 : Signed on June 3

The ban goes into effect immediately, the devices could still linger in some communities for a few more years, as the bill only prevents cities from renewing their current contracts with vendors.

https://gov.texas.gov/

https://capitol.texas.gov/

If you or someone you love has legal needs in Montgomery County, you should seek a qualified attorney such as John E. Choate, Jr who can handle your case with skill.

We are a Conroe Law Office focused on winning your case. Established in Spring 1995, we serve Montgomery, Harris, and the surrounding counties. Founded on the pillars of respect, diligence, and loyalty, we are here to help you through the most difficult times in your life.

Make an appointment TODAY for your free initial consultation.

 

Do I Need An Attorney to Talk to the Police?

The short answer is…it depends

If you are a victim or a witness to a crime you will want
to talk to the police.

If you are a suspect, the answer is always YES! You need an attorney.

Once they read your Miranda Rights, absolutely tell them you want an attorney and quit speaking. Do not ask them any questions, or ask them to explain anything. Be polite and respectful, but insist on your attorney being present for anymore questions.

Miranda Rights
You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
You have the right to an attorney.
If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.
Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?
With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?

Law Professor James Duane stresses that the best course of action if you want to avoid being prosecuted for a crime you didn’t commit is simply never to talk to the cops.  At all. Period.

As a result, if you’re approached by a police officer you’re legally obliged to tell them your name and what you’re up to at that exact moment, but beyond that Duane recommends sticking to the words: “I want a lawyer”. In 2008, Duane, a professor at Virginia’s Regent Law School, gave a lecture about the risks of talking to police that was filmed and posted to YouTube . His argument, which he’s since expanded into a new book called You Have the Right to Remain Innocent, is that even if you haven’t committed a crime, it’s dangerous to tell the police any information. You might make mistakes when explaining where you were at the time of a crime that the police interpret as lies; the officer talking to you could misremember what you say much later; you may be tricked into saying the wrong things by cops under no obligation to tell you the truth; and your statements to police could, in combination with faulty eyewitness accounts, shoddy “expert” testimony, and sheer bad luck, lead to you being convicted of a serious crime.

Prof. Duane thinks that you shouldn’t even tell the police that you are refusing to talk. Your safest course, he says, is to ask in no uncertain terms for a lawyer, and keep on asking until the police stop talking to you.

Besides, the police don’t think you’re innocent. Unfortunately as a suspect you cannot trust the police. You are the guilty one in their eyes. They just need to get a confession. The police are allowed to use deception during interrogations, such as saying a co-defendant has already admitted guilt, they have your DNA, fingerprints or video. If you’ve gotten this far without an attorney, Stop!!  Immediately ask for an attorney.

“What if I’m guilty?”

Most importantly, you need to exercise your right to remain silent and have an attorney. Your attorney will work to ensure you have adequate legal representation in court, and are subject to a fair trial. Your attorney will also try and get an appropriate and reasonable charge for the crime you are accused of.

Therefore, if you or someone you love has been charged with a crime in Montgomery County or surrounding counties, you should seek a qualified lawyer such as John E. Choate, Jr., Attorney at Law, who can handle your case with experience. Call (936) 441-2999 Attorney John E. Choate, Jr. at Conroe Law Office.

Texas Constitutional Carry

The term “democracy” is often used erroneously to describe our system of government. It seems to be especially popular among politicians who happen to find their party out of power. “What he is doing is harmful to our democracy!” is almost a religious chant today.

But, if we don’t have a democracy, what do we have?

Our Union (not “nation” or “country”) was established with a representative republican form of government, but today we have lost the republic and our “representatives” seek office only to magnify and multiply their own opinions and votes, apparently.

Here’s what I mean: this year the Delegates to the Republican Party Convention in San Antonio set what they call “Constitutional carry” of firearms as the #1 priority for the majority Party in this session of the Texas Congress.

“Constitutional Carry” is bad terminology, but suffice it to say that it is meant to repeal the costs associated with legally carrying a firearm in Texas. Nothing about it would authorize anyone to carry if they couldn’t qualify under the present law and pay the associated fees and licenses.

A new Speaker of the Texas House was elected for this session after several sessions under Joe Straus, a man most conservative Republicans thought far too liberal. Dennis Bonnen proceeded to follow in Straus’ tracks almost step by step, appointing liberal Democrats to Chair key committees that would handle conservative legislation, including Constitutional Carry.

That should have cued anyone to know that Bonnen was opposed to this legislation that is overwhelmingly supported by his own Party, and has many supporters in the Democrat Party along with Libertarians.

The Bill had been stalled in the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee chaired by Pancho Nevarez (D) Eagle Pass for weeks before the well-publicized incident with Mr. Chris McNutt, Executive Director of Texas Gun Rights, so neither of these men intended to ever let this Bill get to the floor for a vote anyway.

Now it has been made abundantly clear that the Speaker just flat lied about what happened at his house in Lake Jackson as well as at a fundraising event at which he was scheduled to speak and stormed out after confronting Mr. McNutt.

The DPS Trooper’s testimony as well as bodycam footage shows that Mr. McNutt was unarmed and never stepped on the Bonnen’s property, regardless of what the Speaker says.

So, how can we have a representative republican government here in Texas if one man, in complete disdain for what the people want, stops proposed legislation from even getting a hearing?

If legislation with overwhelming support of the people cannot be heard or voted on we have an oligarchy, certainly not a republic!

 A Conroe lawyer, John Choate Jr., has seen the abuse of political power in our great State of Texas and has assisted many citizens.  Call the Conroe lawyer with your questions or concerns.