The law is full of unintended consequences. One of those unintended consequences for Texas lawmakers might lead to a steep drop in low-level marijuana possession cases. That outcome seems to go well beyond what Texas legislators had in mind when they passed House Bill 1325
What is House Bill 1325?
After years of pressure, the Texas legislature began to slowly move towards removing the ban on farming or manufacturing hemp products in the state. The bill also allows for the use of CBD oil that has less than 0.3% THC content. CBD is short for Cannabidiol, a compound extracted from the cannabis plant. While it does not have the intoxicating effect of marijuana, it is credited with a wide array of potential health benefits.
While legislators aired some minor concerns about the impact of House Bill 1325 and the ability to prosecute marijuana users, the bill ultimately passed the Texas Senate unanimously. The original bill was tweaked repeatedly, including allowing state inspectors to test random batches of hemp or CBD to ensure they were not above the 0.3% threshold. However, this new threshold has led to unexpected consequences in many of Texas' largest counties.
House Bill 1325 provides law enforcement with the ability to test hemp products or CBD oil to ensure they do not contain an illegal amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. However, the statute unintentionally rewrote the law to read that any product, including marijuana, that has a 0.3% THC concentration or less is legal. While marijuana typically contains 20-25% THC content, this change has opened the door for skilled defense attorneys who know how to challenge scientific analysis in criminal cases.
Most Texas counties do not have the equipment necessary to test every drug arrest for THC, and the process to send off these samples is costly. The end result: many counties, including the 5 largest, have announced they will not prosecute low-level pot possession due to the cost.
Marijuana is Still Illegal in Texas
If you hope this development is the first step towards recreational marijuana in Texas, it is time to pump the brakes. While some district attorneys will no longer prosecute low-level offenders, possession of marijuana is still illegal. Prosecutors will not hesitate to prosecute for large amounts of marijuana, and most counties have not committed to cutting low-level prosecutions.
This change will not alter the chances of an arrest for other related crimes, like possession of drug paraphernalia. Texas has a well-earned reputation for strict drug laws and, in most cases, that is not going to change.
If you are facing a drug charge in the Houston area, it is important that you act quickly. The prosecutor in your case will not hesitate to use the resources of the State of Texas to convict you. These prosecutors have an array of drug labs, investigators, and officers at their disposal. However, you can even the odds by hiring a seasoned Houston drug crimes lawyer.
Doug Murphy is a Board Certified expert in criminal defense law who has dedicated his practice to fighting for those accused of drug crimes. If you are ready to discuss your options with an experienced defense attorney, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. right away.