June 10, 2019, proved to be a fateful day in Texas legislative history. On that date, the 86th Legislature passed House Bill 1325, which incorporated by reference the provisions provided in the Federal Farm Bill. What? What does that have to do with possession of marijuana in Texas? The answer: Everything.
The purpose of HB 1325 was to make it legal for farmers in Texas to grow, produce, and sell hemp products so long as they contained less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana that people have enjoyed for millennia. This opens the markets for hemp and hemp products, such as the wildly popular CBD oil. CBD is now legal as long as it hits below that magic 0.3% THC concentration number. So are basically all other hemp-derived products. Yay for farmers! Re-election here we come!
Now, this is where things get fun. The legislature apparently never bothered to find out if crime labs in Texas are capable of determining the THC concentration of whatever material the cops took off the “danger to society” in the tie-dye shirt who was politely asked to leave Double Dave’s 25 cent pepperoni roll night. Guess what? THEY CAN’T! That’s right, there are no labs in the entire State that can tell us what the THC concentration is in any given substance. They can tell us whether THC is present, but not how much. To perform this kind of testing you need a really, really advanced tool called a Gas Chromatograph equipped with a Mass Spectrometer and a special column. And guess what folks - that ain’t a thing right now in Texas.
As a result of HB 1325, counties across the State have begun declining charges for low-level marijuana possession. All of the large counties, e.g. Dallas, Harris, Travis, and Bexar have done this. Some of the smaller, more rural counties are still prosecuting to the full extent of the law. However, they are the minority at this point. The next legislative session does not start until January 12, 2021. Expect the likes of Abbott and Patrick to do everything they can to correct the short-sighted and embarrassing legislation. But as of right now and until then, enjoy the modern wonder of advanced scientific testing and Texas’ complete lack of foresight in that area.
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