On June 10, 2019, Governor Gregg Abbott signed into a law a bill that legalized
the industrial production of hemp. The legislation, which took effect
immediately, was initially introduced to help farmers compete in the rapidly
growing hemp production industry.
Hemp and Marijuana Redefined
Under the new law, the distinguishing factors between hemp and marijuana
were redefined. Where before hemp was considered the part of the cannabis
plant that did not contain marijuana, now it is determined by how much
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is in the product. Hemp is defined as a substance
that contains less than 0.3% of THC, whereas marijuana contains more than 0.3%.
Labs Not Currently Equipped to Test for THC Levels
The only way to determine the percentage of THC in a substance is to conduct
a specific chemical test, which Texas labs are not currently set up to
perform. That means if law enforcement seizes a material they believe
is marijuana, without proper testing, there would be no way to prove that
it falls under the legal definition of the drug. Right now, if a person
were charged with possessing marijuana, they could argue it was hemp,
and since the substance is now legal and labs don’t have the tools
to determine how much THC is it, prosecutors would have trouble landing
Prosecutors Dropping Charges
As a result, many prosecutors have said they will be dropping misdemeanor
possession of marijuana for personal use charges. Additionally, they might not pursue any new
cases until proper tests can be conducted.
Experts say the machines for testing for the THC percentage in a substance
are costly – around $300,000 to $500,000. It could take up to 1
year for the state’s labs to be properly equipped.
Request a Free Consultation with Jerry Loftin & Associates Today
Together, our attorneys have more than 65 years of legal experience and
know-how to fight charges for
drug crimes, such as possession of marijuana. With our understanding of the law and
the personalized service we provide, we will build an innovative defense
strategy for your unique case. We will work relentlessly to get charges
reduced or dropped and minimize the consequences of a conviction on your life.
For professional and aggressive legal representation, call us at (817) 429-2000 or
contact us online.