A new ban on the retail sale of smokable hemp flowers is putting the hemp industry in a state of unrest. Last year, Governor Gregg Abbot signed House Bill 1325, legalizing the cultivation, possession, and sale of industrial hemp. These activities were legal so long as the hemp contained less than .3 percent of Delta-9 THC, which is the psychoactive cannabinoid from cannabis plants.
Now, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of State Health Services worked together to enact rules that regulate the sale of hemp products. The new law, which is a result of that effort, makes it illegal to sell hemp flowers for smoking purposes. As a result, Texas hemp businesses are forced to reassess their business models to stay in compliance with the new law.
Why Was the New Hemp Law Enacted?
Since hemp farming became legal in Texas a year ago, law enforcement officials and politicians have struggled with a simple problem: how to determine if someone is smoking a joint with THC or CBD. It’s important to note that THC is the illegal psychoactive agent found in marijuana, while CBD is the legal therapeutic agent found in hemp.
HB 1325 effectively legalized both hemp and marijuana by legalizing any substance from cannabis containing 0.3 percent or less THC. That inadvertently put the emphasis on prosecutors to prove a substance is marijuana-based entirely on its degree of THC.
What lawmakers failed to realize is that the overwhelming majority of local agencies in Texas do not have the necessary equipment to determine THC levels. Further, outsourcing THC tests can be a costly endeavor.
As a result, many district attorneys in the state simply dropped misdemeanor marijuana cases. In doing so, these prosecutors ignored a letter recently sent from top state officials stressing the drug is still illegal in Texas.
How Does the New Law Affect Those Who Recently Purchased Hemp?
The new ban focuses on the retail sale of smokable hemp flowers, not on individuals who purchase smokable hemp. Still, the ban will have a significant impact on those who depend on low-THC-level products of cannabis for relief. Many believe that smoking hemp gives them the most relief for a number of conditions, including pain relief, anxiety, and depression.
Retailers argue that smoking the product is not only the best way to get all the benefits of cannabinoids, it’s also the most convenient and effective way to ingest CBD. Now that option is off the table.
Contact Our Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers
As you can see, the legal landscape for marijuana and hemp laws in Texas is changing. What may have been legal a year ago may not be legal now. If you are facing a marijuana-related charge in Texas, be proactive and consult with a reputable Austin criminal defense attorney at Granger and Mueller PC who can answer all your questions and inform you of your legal options. A skilled attorney is an advocate in your corner and someone who will fight on your behalf for a successful outcome. Contact us today.