A Texas law has legalized hemp and popular hemp-derived products, like CBD oil. In doing so, the legislation redefined marijuana from certain parts of the cannabis plant to only those parts that contain more than a certain percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that allows users to get high.
According to the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, however, the change in the law has made it almost impossible to detect whether drugs found on a person is marijuana or hemp. Most, if not all Texas crime labs have no equipment or resources that employees can adequately detect the difference between the two substances. While the equipment that is necessary to determine the potency of a substance exists, the labs currently don’t have access to it. The requisite equipment costs an estimated $300,000 to $500,000, and over 20 labs would need the equipment. The quick tests that labs used to detect the presence of any cannabinoids in marijuana no longer are useable.
As a result, district attorneys statewide have begun dismissing hundreds of marijuana charges and declining to prosecute misdemeanor possession of marijuana cases in the absence of evidence proving that the substance contains more than 0.3% THC. This THC percentage is what differentiates legal hemp from illegal marijuana. Some counties also are dismissing felony-level possession marijuana charges.
In contrast, however, the Tarrant County District Attorney reported recently that she had found at least two labs that can provide the necessary technology. The sponsor of the bill, state Sen. Charles Perry, also argues that even if the hemp law hadn’t redefined marijuana at the state level, the 2018 Farm Bill would have affected the definition across all states, since it is a federal law. An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against any criminal charges. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case, present your options, and help you make the decisions that will be most beneficial to you, based on your circumstances. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 359-3362 today and see how we can help.