Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018
Texans love our independence, but we’re also bound to follow federal laws. One of the most shocking hemp-related laws was passed in December of 2018, and it has some significant implications for Texas.
This new law, the Agricultural Improvement Act, legalizes industrial hemp. How? It completely removes marijuana products that contain less than 0.3% THC from the list of controlled substances prohibited by the government. In addition to legalizing hemp, it also allows certain growers to apply for government funding.
HB 1325: New Hemp Laws in Texas for 2019
Once this federal law was passed, Texas had the responsibility of following suit. This year, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1325 to further define the state’s new hemp laws. Here’s a breakdown of what was included in the bill:
- Hemp is now legal, but with added restrictions
- The manufacture and sale of consumable hemp products is now legal
- The Department of Agriculture will oversee and give licenses to hemp growers
Consumable hemp products include the items you may have seen appearing at your local stores. CBD oil, hemp foods, hemp-infused cosmetics and more are now legal to possess and sell.
HB 1325 defines hemp in the same way the new federal law does. Hemp is anything that contains less than 0.3% THC.
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What’s the Difference Between CBD, Hemp, and Marijuana?
The Agricultural Improvement Act clearly legalized hemp, but what’s the difference between hemp, CBD, and marijuana? Don’t all these products come from the same plant? How exactly are the law and courts defining “hemp” products? Here’s what you need to know:
- Hemp, CBD, and marijuana all come from the cannabis plant
- Prior to the new law, no distinction was made between hemp and other cannabis products
- Hemp MUST NOT contain more than 0.3% of THC
- THC is the compound that causes the user to feel “high”
- CBD is considered hemp-derived when it has a THC concentration of less than 0.3%
- CBD is considered marijuana-based when its THC concentration is higher than 0.3%
- The legality of CBD hinges on whether it was produced in a manner consistent with the new Agricultural Improvement Act
So, can we expect to see individuals growing the plant without repercussion now? The law makes it clear that individuals will still get criminally charged if they’re growing a marijuana plant that proves to have a THC concentration above the threshold. Additionally, the law specifies that hemp cultivators must receive a government-approved license before starting a growing project.
In short, hemp is now legal but with serious restrictions. CBD products may be legal or illegal depending on the product’s contents and how it was produced. Psychoactive marijuana remains illegal, and it’s still considered a controlled substance according to federal law.
Can I Still Be Charged With a Marijuana Crime in Texas?
These recent developments in marijuana-related laws are both controversial and confusing to the public. Not only are they causing confusion, but they’re also causing problems in some Texas courts. While marijuana is still illegal, marijuana-related crimes are becoming harder to prosecute. Here’s why:
- Prosecutors have the burden of proving the substance is marijuana and not hemp or CBD
- There are limited crime labs in Texas that can detect THC concentrations at such a low threshold (0.3%)
- Few agencies have the funds to purchase the needed lab equipment at this time
Together, these three factors make it nearly impossible for a Texas police officer to prove whether the controlled substance is illegal marijuana or legal cannabis. So, what exactly are courtrooms doing when faced with this problem?
In some counties, prosecutors are making the difficult decision to throw out petty marijuana possession cases due to an inability to get a conviction. Some areas are simply refusing to accept any petty marijuana claims until something changes. Police officers may decide not to charge you depending on where you were caught with cannabis.
As a result, low-level marijuana-crimes are being prosecuted at a lower rate. Keep in mind that this fact won’t necessarily protect you. Some counties are choosing to simply divert these low-level offenders to a rehabilitation program without a criminal record. Other counties do have the capacity to prove whether the substance meets the illegal threshold of THC.
This confusion could work in your favor if you were recently arrested or accused of a marijuana-related crime. It’s important, however, not to rely on this loophole as your only defense strategy. Rather, it’s beneficial to reach out to an attorney to formulate the best strategy in your circumstances.
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Were You Accused of a Hemp or Marijuana-Related Crime?
New hemp laws in Texas are creating a lot of confusion around the legality of the marijuana plant and its derivatives. On top of that, there’s a growing public push to decriminalize the cannabis plant on the federal and state level. If you need further clarification about the plant or one of its products, then it’s advised that you reach out to a lawyer in your area for solid legal advice.
Despite the public’s changing perceptions on marijuana, hemp, and CBD, it remains an illegal controlled substance according to federal law when it exceeds the THC threshold. If you’ve been charged with a marijuana or hemp-related crime, then constructing a valid defense strategy will be challenging.
Are you ready to start building a defense strategy against your criminal charges? You have the right to retain legal representation, and it’s best to utilize this right. Put your trust in the hands of experienced and knowledgeable attorney Brett A. Podolsky. Reach out to his law office online or by phone at (713) 227-0087 to get started.