Distinction between marijuana and hemp affects drug charges

While several states have passed laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, Texas is not one of them. Current Texas laws only allow the use of medical marijuana to treat some specific conditions. 

Due to medical cannabis laws in Texas, the state has made some changes in the definitions of marijuana and hemp. This new distinction between various cannabis products has caused inconsistencies in the prosecution of marijuana-related drug crimes. 

Medical marijuana 

According to FindLaw, Texas still maintains some of the harshest penalties in the nation for recreational marijuana possession. A conviction for marijuana possession, even if the amount is less than 2 ounces, may lead to jail time and a fine of up to $2,000. 

The state does allow individuals to treat some medical conditions with cannabis products that have a very low percentage of THC (the psychoactive component). The only qualifying condition in the original medical marijuana law was epilepsy, but recent changes have added other diseases to the list. 

Hemp and CBD 

An article from the Texas Tribune indicates that the state’s medical marijuana restrictions changed in 2019 to include Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis as qualifying conditions. The Tribune article also states that Texas law now considers marijuana and hemp to be two different substances, even though they both come from the cannabis plant. 

Under the new law, a cannabis plant or derivative that contains more than 0.3 percent THC is marijuana, which is illegal. Hemp is any cannabis derivative or plant that has a lower concentration of THC. According to the Tribune, Texas considers the sale and possession of hemp legal. In many issues of cannabis possession, calculating the exact percentage of THC in a substance is impractical, so prosecutors may end up dropping charges.