New hemp law complicates marijuana laws in McLennan County

News

WACO, Texas – With the approval of HB-1325, the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office will now have to change their procedures of marijuana going forward.

“The bill has created a significant dilemma on how we’re going to be handling our marijuana cases,” says McLennan County District Attorney Barry Johnson.

The Texas Hemp Protection Plan passed on June 10 allows for hemp to be grown as a crop. But how does one prove it’s hemp?

“What the legislature has done is by passing a bill that defines marijuana as anything more than .3% THC, they’ve redefined what marijuana is,” Johnson says.

Law enforcement officers will now need a lab test to determine the THC content. The District Attorney’s Office said they will not be able to accept prosecution of any marijuana possession cases under four ounces without lab analysis.

“They can test for marijuana but they cannot get the quantitative analysis,” Johnson says.

Marijuana is now defined as Cannabis Sativa L, not hemp. Hemp is now defined as Cannabis Sativa L, which has a THC concentration of less than .3 percent.

“The chemist labs in Texas can’t perform those tests,” says Attorney Thomas West.

West says testing will be expensive and evidence will most likely be stored until labs can start testing. Getting caught, however, could still land you in legal trouble.

“It’ll put people in a bad position because every time they get stopped, they’re going to say it’s hemp. What’s the other side going to say? The law-enforcement? This looks like marijuana, smells like marijuana, must be marijuana. That’s against the law in the state of Texas,” West says.

They will continue to review felony-level cases that are clearly over the felony limit and will decide how to proceed with a case-by-case basis.

The office recommends there are no arrests on amounts of marijuana less than four ounces, but to fully investigate cases that have evidence for safekeeping until lab testing.

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