Randall County DA: Hemp products need THC testing infrastructure

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AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — As of June 10, hemp and CBD products are legal in Texas, thanks to House Bill 1325.

The bill aligned Texas law with federal law, decriminalizing hemp and hemp products at or below 0.3% THC. However, Randall County District Attorney Robert Love says it will take time to put in place infrastructure so that law enforcement can determine the difference between hemp and marijuana.

“If you’re using it out in public and law enforcement sees you with it and it smells like marijuana, as you pointed out,” Love said, “it looks like marijuana, it smells like marijuana. You could be put in jeopardy of facing criminal charges.”

Some Texas district and county attorneys have claimed they would not prosecute misdemeanor marijuana possession cases without lab testing.

In response, Gov. Greg Abbott and other state leaders sent a letter to prosecutors.

It reads in part, “Marijuana has not been decriminalized in Texas, and these actions demonstrate a misunderstanding of how H.B. 1325 works.”

It goes on to say, “Failing to enforce marijuana laws cannot be blamed on legislation that did not decriminalize marijuana in Texas.

Love said statements do not characterize his office.

“We’re not changing the way we’re prosecuting. We’re going to prosecute illegal marijuana cases just like we have in the past. From a practical standpoint, we may be doing it differently because we have to do a test whereas prior to June 10 we didn’t.”

According to Love, running that test will take some time.

“So, we’re talking a few months down the road before DPS is going to have the ability to quantitatively test a substance that is believed to be marijuana,” Love added.

State leaders say lab testing is not required in every case and is more affordable than previously thought.

]”You can’t go into the courtroom without a test because the defense attorney is going to say, ‘Hey, is this 0.3% or less legal hemp or is this 0.3% or greater illegal marijuana?’ and I can’t honestly answer that,” said Love.

Love thinks law enforcement will still use some circumstantial evidence, so substances will be collected and saved for testing and a warrant will be issued later if a sample is determined to be higher than 0.3% THC concentration.

The state’s letter also details how a person must have a certificate to transport hemp, which it admits the state has yet to produce, making it a crime to transport hemp or have a false certificate.

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