Texas House Bill 1325 has just deemed that substances from the Cannabis sativa plant that produce hemp are now legal in the great state of Texas, which technically means marijuana — a “substance” from the plant Cannabis sativa — is also legal… to an extent. Don’t get us wrong, weed is very much still illegal in Texas, but because of HB1325, it is now the burden of prosecutors to prove if a substance falls within the legal threshold of 0.3% THC, a costly and time-consuming process many counties are not equipped to handle. As a result, according to research done by Texas Monthly, nine of the states twelve most populous counties will no longer prosecute low-level marijuana cases, and some counties are even dismissing pending cases.
The nine counties consist of nearly 15 million people and include the heavily populated counties of Harris, Dallas, Travis, Tarrant, and Bexar, which account for more than half of Texas’ total population. The bill was intended to legalize hemp, because of its potential as a drought-resistant cash crop, but the language of the bill relies on the THC content of a product to differentiate between its legal status, which is causing an unintended result. Hemp can be used in the production of twine, protein powder, clothing, and is present in several over-the-counter moisturizers, but has been classified as a Schedule I drugs since the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 because of its relation to the same plant that produces marijuana.
According to Texas Monthly, marijuana’s psychoactive effects are felt when a plant with 5% to 25% THC content is smoked or ingested, which is well above the 0.3% found in hemp. But because many of the counties in Texas aren’t outfitted with the proper equipment to measure THC content, verifying THC content is simply too costly for the various counties to want to deal with. Speaking to Waco Texas’ KWTX, J.D. Sheffield, the state representative for Gatesville Texas says “It’s one of those things that we did and now we’re looking back and saying, ‘Well, we didn’t think about that.”
Bless your heart Texas. And — for now at least — roll it up and smoke it.