Hemp

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

There’s been a lot of confusion about the difference between marijuana and hemp since Texas legalized the production and sale of hemp in June.

The short? Marijuana is still very much illegal at the state and national level. But the new law created a distinction that’s left some prosecutors in a bit of a pickle.

Texas State Trooper car
Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

Texas’ largest law enforcement agency is moving away from arresting people for low-level marijuana offenses. It’s the latest development in the chaos that has surrounded pot prosecution after state lawmakers legalized hemp this year.

A man cuts a marijuana plant.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

Months before Texas district attorneys started dropping or delaying low-level marijuana cases, state lawmakers were told that a well-liked bill to legalize hemp was going to complicate pot prosecutions.

The warnings fell flat.

Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore
Julia Reihs / KUT

Things have changed in the past year or so in how Travis County approaches some cases involving particular types and amounts of drugs. District Attorney Margaret Moore says the "criminal justice system is a very poor tool to use to address drug usage or substance abuse of any kind."

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said Wednesday her office is dismissing 32 felony cases involving possession or delivery of marijuana or THC, pending further investigation, as the result of a new Texas law legalizing hemp.

KUT

A new law that legalized hemp in Texas is creating a haze of confusion for authorities as most crime labs around the state can't do the testing to tell the difference between the cannabis plant and its illegal cousin, marijuana.

This week, the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office dismissed about 235 misdemeanor marijuana possession cases. It was an unusual move, and a response to changes in state law earlier this month.

Marijuana on top of a Texas flag
KUT

Sixty-three bills related to marijuana or hemp were filed at the beginning of the 86th Texas legislative session in January. Four measures passed out of the House, including bills that would establish a hemp market in Texas, reduce penalties for low-level marijuana possession and expand the list of Texans who can access medical marijuana.

Juan Figueroa / The Texas Tribune

The Texas House on Tuesday gave broad preliminary approval to a bill that would allow farmers in the state to legally grow industrial hemp — a move lauded as a win for the state’s farmers.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

From Texas Standard:

When it comes to crops, Texas has one of the most diverse portfolios around. But here's one commodity you won't find: industrial hemp. The square cousin of marijuana has no psychoactive properties, but it does have a whole range of practical applications for things like textiles, food and fiber. The problem is that in most places, it's illegal to cultivate it. But a bill currently being considered by Congress could change that, and it has the support of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.

THC, the chemical that gets marijuana consumers high, is only present in minute amounts in hemp, Miller says.

Is Texas Ready to Get Kinky About Hemp?

Feb 12, 2014
Mike Lee, KUT

From StateImpact Texas:

He's run for office three times and lost. But here he is again, the novelist and troubadour that made a name for himself by turning country clichés into satiric social commentary, running for office. Richard "Kinky" Friedman (he got the nickname for his hair) is running as a Democrat for Agriculture Commissioner, and he has a plan to make Texas "greener." He wants to make hemp and marijuana legal in Texas.

“I’m not a dope smoker, okay?” he says with a point of his trademark unlit cigar. “Except with Willie [Nelson]. More as a Texas etiquette kind of thing.” First, his argument for hemp, which is in the same family as marijuana but in its industrial form doesn’t have the medicinal or recreational uses of marijuana. Friedman argues that if cotton farmers in Texas were allowed to grow hemp instead, the trade-offs would be attractive.