The state of Texas recently legalized the use of hemp, but not marijuana. Since then, the state has struggled to find a way to test for THC when it comes to charging people with drug crimes since hemp also contains a certain amount of THC. In response, the Texas Forensics Science Commission teamed up with the Drug Enforcement Agency in order to find some way to test for THC — and they think they may have found it.
It is possible that beginning in 2020, prosecutors will have a way to measure THC in order to differentiate between marijuana and hemp. Between the TFSC and the DEA, it was found that a minimum 1% concentration of THC would suffice as a measure for differentiation. This means that prosecutors may again begin prosecuting even low-level marijuana charges, and defense attorneys will need to take steps to fully understand how the testing is supposed to work in order to serve their clients.
As for police throughout Texas, they will still require probable cause, along with either a search warrant or consent to search a person or vehicle. They will have to prove that a substance is marijuana by smell and look, which may not always be easy since hemp is similar in appearance and smell. The substance in question must then undergo testing. There are still details to work out regarding the testing parameters.
Anytime a new test, procedure or policy is added into the criminal process, it could take some time to “work out the kinks” through the legal system. It will undergo serious scrutiny by criminal defense attorneys and their experts. Anyone facing drug crimes when this new test arrives may want to take the time to challenge the charges instead of simply accepting their fate.