EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The El Paso Police Department is seeking an expanded contract with National Medical Service Labs to test for marijuana.
On Tuesday, the El Paso City Council will consider approving the contract expansion with NMS Labs for crime lab services in an agreement not to exceed $3.9 million over the next three years, according to a city presentation. The contract expansion includes marijuana testing that would cost the city $360,000.
Police say the purchase will allow for laboratory analysis and reporting for Marijuana or delta-9 THC. EPPD intends on using the test results in cases involving seizures of items suspected of having THC.
In August, the El Paso City Council narrowly approved allowing the police to use 2022 funds to pay for cannabis testing. Mayor Oscar Leeser broke a tie allowing the police to use $72,000 from its budget to pay for marijuana testing in cases including misdemeanor amounts or low-level amounts of the drug.
It’s unclear why Tuesday’s item would be for a larger expense on the lab service.
Earlier this year, the EPPD introduced a proposal for $72,000 in additional funding to cover the costs of testing for THC. Police officials say the request is in response to a letter from the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office requiring testing to pursue all marijuana cases.
Though most major cities and counties in Texas have adopted more lenient practices on low-level marijuana cases, El Paso has continued a more hardline approach, despite the City Council adopting a “cite and release” policy for misdemeanor levels of marijuana possession.
Throughout the state, prosecutors have tossed low-level marijuana cases or held off on criminal charges due to changes in hemp laws and the lack of testing resources.