It seems like there has been an explosion in the number of stores that sell hemp & CBD products in the Houston area overnight. Simply put, an important federal law changed the definition of hemp products, de-listing them from the Controlled Substances Act and legalizing many of them but not all of them.
What is Hemp?
Hemp is a fibrous and oily plant that is often confused with marijuana because it comes from the same species of plants. However, certain types of hemp plants have very low levels of THC – the active ingredient in marijuana that makes it illegal – and much higher levels of cannabidiol, a chemical that reduces the psychoactive effects of the existing THC.
Hemp has lots of uses. Its fibrous material has been used to make textiles, clothing, and even rope, while the cannabidiol in hemp can be infused in foods and drinks and is supposed to help alleviate a wide variety of medical conditions from nausea to chronic pain to PTSD, though scientific evidence is lacking.
Hemp Products Used to Be Controlled Substances
Despite the low level of THC in hemp, the Controlled Substances Act still listed it as a Schedule I drug – one that had a high potential for abuse and addiction and had no known medical use.
The federal government backed away from that classification in the 2014 Farm Bill, which allowed “institutions of higher education” and state agricultural departments to study hemp in states that did not prohibit it. The bill also defined “industrial hemp” as a hemp product with THC levels below 0.3% on a dry weight basis, cutting into the general prohibition against all hemp products as Schedule I drugs.
2018 Farm Bill Removes Hemp from Schedule I
The 2018 Farm Bill went further than the 2014 version by reclassifying “industrial hemp” as an agricultural commodity and removing it entirely from the Controlled Substances Act.
However, just because industrial hemp is legal does not mean that you cannot face drug charges for having hemp products, particularly cannabidiol.
Legal Issues With Hemp Products
There are still a handful of important ways that you can unknowingly get in trouble by possessing hemp products or cannabidiol.
Most importantly, if the THC level of a hemp product is over 0.3%, it is considered “marijuana,” which is still illegal in Texas and which can still lead to serious drug charges.
To add to the complexity of the situation, many of the companies making cannabidiol products do not accurately label the THC concentration of their products or deliberately mislabel them to make it seem as if they are complying with the law. If you buy a mislabeled product, you could be possessing marijuana without knowing it.
Houston Drug Defense Lawyer Doug Murphy
Doug Murphy is a drug defense lawyer who is concerned with the explosion in hemp products and the misinformation about them that can lead to serious accusations of a drug crime. Contact him online or call his Houston law office at (713) 229-8333 if you have been arrested and want a lawyer to defend against the charge.