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Marijuana charges dismissed after hemp law passes

Many people in Texas may be relieved to learn that hundreds of low-level marijuana charges are being dropped across the state. The state law does not actually decriminalize marijuana for personal use. It does, however, legalize hemp and hemp products like CBD oil, which are non-intoxicating. In order to pursue a case under the new law, police and prosecutors must distinguish between marijuana and hemp. The legislation, which passed as House Bill 1325, redefined the meaning of "marijuana" in state law. While the term previously referred to parts of the cannabis plant overall, the change specifies only those parts that are higher in THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol.

THC is known as the ingredient in cannabis that causes a high. However, most cannabis confiscated by police is not tested for THC levels or the part of the plant from which it came. Law enforcement and prosecutors are arguing that they do not have the resources to test confiscated cannabis. This means that people may be able to argue that the cannabis they had is actually one of the protected forms of hemp or a CBD product rather than the still-prohibited THC-containing cannabis. The legal limit for THC in cannabis now sits at 0.3%.

Texas crime labs claim that they cannot determine the THC potency of cannabis because they do not have the specialized equipment needed to do so, even though this equipment is available in industry. As a result, hundreds of people have seen their marijuana charges dismissed because prosecutors no longer have the evidence needed to secure a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.

Marijuana charges can still have a serious impact on the lives of people accused of possession or distribution in Texas. A criminal defense attorney may work with people facing drug charges to challenge police evidence and aim to prevent a conviction.

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