SAN ANGELO, Texas – When House Bill 1325 became law, it gave farmers the right to grow industrial hemp. However, now it’s causing some confusion, being that hemp and marijuana are derived from the same species of plant, cannabis sativa.
“The difference is that hemp is 0.3 % THC or less, that’s how you get CBD derived hemp products,” stated Jayda DiStefano, who is the Owner of Bel Esprit Naturals.
“Hemp is used for cosmetics, fibers, lotions and things like that,” added Chris Taylor, who is the Tom Green County Attorney.
Nonetheless, prosecutors in many parts of Texas began dropping low level marijuana charges, due to not being able to tell the difference. The equipment needed to test the THC concentration between hemp and marijuana, can cost up to $500,000 dollars and most labs don’t carry it. Yet, there are still ways to distinguish the boundaries regarding this law.
“There are three different categories of hemp. You’ve got hemp, you’ve got consumable hemp products and non-consumable hemp products. When I say hemp, I’m talking about the weeds that are out in the field. Now you can have hemp in your car and still get in trouble. In order to have it, you must follow all the rules and regulations of the Department of Agriculture, which requires you to get have a license,” elaborated Taylor.
Many believe, if taken as instructed, hemp products can be are extremely very beneficial but just have a negative stigma surrounding them.
“Simply 0.3% THC or less, that’s not a lot. It has no psychoactive effects. You’re not going to get high from hemp. Everybody’s talking about it and it’s helped so many people’s health and it’s changed a lot of lives,” expressed DiStefano.
However, others believe this is a danger to our community and to our society.
“Last year we treated over 1500 people in our treatment programs and 15% of those were here just because of their marijuana addiction. It’s being normalized and our youth are thinking that it’s no big deal and that’s dangerous because the acceptance of it grows. So, if that’s not a big deal than marijuana is not a big deal,” explained Eric Sanchez, who is the CEO of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council for the Concho Valley.
Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen all co-signed a letter that was sent to District and County Attorneys in Texas, asking them to continue prosecuting marijuana cases, as it has not been decriminalized.
“If it looks like marijuana and smells like marijuana, then it’s probably marijuana. The word probably is really important because it gives the officers probable cause to continue to arrest people,” claimed Taylor.
California Senator Kamala Harris just proposed a bill on Tuesday, to legalize marijuana nationwide.