Texas lawmakers recently relaxed laws on hemp with the Hemp Bill, making hemp legal to use within the state, although marijuana use remains illegal.
As great as this may seem for some, defense attorneys along with prosecutors and others see that it’s created a legal nightmare within the justice system, namely in legally differentiating between hemp and marijuana.
Hemp and marijuana laws are now more complex than they ever were, as the state is apparently not totally prepared to differentiate between the two.
Anyone facing marijuana charges should definitely find an experienced defense lawyer to represent them in light of this complicated situation.
Hemp And Marijuana - What Is The Difference?
Hemp and marijuana come from the same plant, the cannabis plant and the difference between the two is the TCH level in different parts of the plant or different plant strains.
Previous to the recent change in marijuana regulations, defense attorneys worked under Texas law that stated that any product containing any amount of THC at all was prohibited.
Now after the Hemp Bill, the law states a distinction between hemp which can contain less than 0.3% of THC and marijuana containing 0.3% or more of THC.
How Has Legalizing Hemp Created A Problem In Texas?
As obvious as this new change in marijuana laws may seem and despite the good intention to reduce the numbers of marijuana charges being made each year, it’s turned into a Pandora’s Box for defense attorneys and the whole legal system.
This is because determining chargeable offenses now requires identifying not just the presence of THC in a substance but how much THC is present.
Unfortunately, all Texas crime labs used for such work are not equipped to determine THC concentrations.
Forensics experts and even the state’s crime lab director warned before the change was made that this would create huge headaches rather than reduce unnecessary charges, warnings went unanswered and the Hemp Bill was approved.
What Is The Solution?
Resolving the issue that Texas law now presents to all defendants, defense lawyers, and courts would require millions in equipment upgrades at the state crime labs used to conduct TCH testing and trained personnel to use it.
Until that decision is made and funding made available, many low-level marijuana cases remain questionable at best, so much so that many courts in the state have temporarily stopped prosecuting marijuana cases.
Before the Hemp Bill was approved, the request for lab funding was rejected; however, the Bill in place without the ability to test for THC concentrations essentially legalizes all marijuana and not just hemp.
Lawmakers need to go back to the drawing board and rethink this change and either rescind it or go full forward with it by providing the funds required to update the state crime labs.
Hire A Defense Attorney Experienced With Marijuana Charges
The Texas Hemp Bill that was initially designed to reduce marijuana charges in cases of low THC use has backfired and instead caused some major headaches for the courts.
Defense attorneys stress that until there is a reliable way for state crime labs to determine THC concentrations, marijuana possession cases cannot be properly decided.
As such, those facing marijuana charges have a good defense against conviction as long as they work with a lawyer experienced with marijuana charges and the way this concern affects their clients!
Reynaldo Garza, III - Attorney at Law
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520