LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A new hemp law instructs Texas Department of Public Safety officers not to arrest people found with a small amount of marijuana.
As of July 10, officers issue a citation for people with a misdemeanor amount of the drug, which is less than four ounces.
Marijuana and hemp come from the same cannabis plant, but unlike marijuana, hemp has low levels of THC, the ingredient that makes you high.
Lubbock County Criminal District Attorney, Sunshine Stanek, said they will continue to look at any case law enforcement sends to their office on a case by case basis, according to the current state law and the guidelines DPS has put in place.
First Assistant, Amanda Say, said hemp and marijuana are so different that it would be hard to confuse the cases.
“I’ve never had it brought up that the defense was, oh this isn’t marijuana this is actually hemp,” Say said.
She said people that have always had marijuana are going to continue to have marijuana and the same goes for other narcotics.
“They’re not going to hear the law and say well now i’m going to have hemp with my cocaine and I’m going to have hemp with my methamphetamine, because they’re using the marijuana to get high, and so that hemp is not going to serve that same purpose,” Say said.
Because of this, Say said the marijuana cases they currently see and prosecute will not change.
“Typically when we’re dealing with what we’re seeing with regard to the major narcotics trafficking, marijuana and the use of that types of things is we’ll see them all together,” Say said.
Lubbock County Sheriff, Kelly Rowe, says the new hemp law will not have an impact on their typical enforcement of marijuana possession.
“The officers are given a lot of discretion, again we’re not dumping lots of resources and we’re certainly not going to spend a lot of tax dollars tying up jail beds with somebody on a very minor amount of marijuana,” Rowe said.
Rowe said the most crucial issue of this matter is that there is a significant limitation on the ability to test the drug.
“There’s only a couple of labs in the entire united states that can actually test down to the minimum THC levels,” Rowe said.
If it contains less than 0.3 percent of THC it is hemp, otherwise it is marijuana, which is illegal. But, Rowe says 0.3 percent is not an amount that can be detected through the normal testing methods used for marijuana and other narcotics.
“When they tell us they can test something or they can’t test something or the timing of it, that can affect prosecution,” Stanek said. “We will work with what they tell us and we’ll work with their guidelines and just wait to hear from them.”
Intake chief Edward Wharff said as of now, they have not received any cases in Lubbock County regarding hemp itself, although they still receive cases regarding marijuana daily.