HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — A new law legalizing hemp in Texas is creating problems for authorities that will likely cost millions of dollars to fix and has temporarily stopped the prosecution of some misdemeanor cases involving marijuana, hemp’s plant cousin.
After the 2018 federal Farm Bill made hemp legal in the U.S., states like Texas passed legislation allowing farmers to grow it.
Texas’ new law provides a specific definition of marijuana, based on its percentage of THC, the compound that gets users high.
Hemp in jars (credit: CBS 11 News)
Federal law requires hemp, which is naturally low in THC, to maintain a concentration of no more than .3%.
Marijuana, which is still outlawed by the federal government, can contain more than 30% THC.
Both plants also contain CBD, and virtually all the hemp in these greenhouses will be used to produce CBD oil.
But, hemp can also be used to create clothes, food and beauty products, as well as alternative to plastic, concrete and steel.
But before the new law, Texas authorities only needed to show the presence of THC in suspected marijuana.
Officials say most Texas crime labs can’t test for exact amounts of THC.
District attorneys in at least four Texas counties say they’ll stop accepting misdemeanor marijuana cases until the problem is fixed.