A Texas 2019 farm bill made the production and distribution of hemp legal. Numerous news outlets have reported that this is heavily affecting marijuana charges in the state — causing some cities to go so far as to throw out charges for possession.
But do these side effects go both ways? In other words, is it possible to get a drug charge from growing or using hemp products?
The legality of hemp
As Texas Department of Health and Human Services reports, it is now legal to grow and possess hemp in Texas, but the state still heavily regulates its growth and sale. To legally produce hemp, prospective farmers must undergo a lengthy application and approval process. This process includes education, application, a criminal-background check and fees.
Even after receiving certification, a grower will need to submit his or her product for inspection to ensure that the THC content of the product is less than 0.3%– the legal differentiation between hemp and marijuana.
Hemp versus marijuana
Aside from the different concentrations of THC, hemp and marijuana are the same species of plant. NC Cooperative Extension reports that while strain and breeding play a part in the final product, it is altogether possible to produce a plant with accidentally high THC levels. One way this could occur is by simply under watering the plant, causing it to undergo physiological changes that increase THC.
During inspection, these high levels will necessitate the destruction of the crop.
So can hemp result in a drug charge? While unlikely, it is possible. Those who attempt to grow hemp without a license and mistakenly allow THC levels above the threshold could face criminal charges. Likewise, possession of “hemp” with high THC concentration is legally marijuana possession.
With many cities relaxing enforcement of marijuana laws, it is becoming less likely, but it is altogether possible to possess marijuana one believes to be hemp. Thankfully, there are many strong legal defenses for such charges.