Is it Marijuana or Hemp? Houston Lab Can Now Tell the Difference

Many of you may know by now, that there have been recent changes in the law concerning what is defined as marijuana and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) under the Texas Health and Safety Code. I discussed these changes in the law in a recent blog post TX Hemp & Marijuana Law – New Laws for 2019 and If You are Charged w/ Possession of Marijuana or THC? DO NOT PLEAD GUILTY!

The new law states that any plant or substance derived from a plant, that has a THC concentration less than 0.3% is no longer defined as a controlled substance (or marijuana) for purposes of the Texas Health and Safety Code’s punishments for related offenses. When the law went into effect, none of the Texas crime labs that were used to test for the presence of controlled substances had the ability to test for the QUANTITY of THC. The only thing that they could test for was the PRESENCE of THC. The GC/MS laboratory analysis are very sensitive, and can detect even 1 mg of THC, however, they did not previously have the ability to distinguish between the two in the lab.

Many people have caught on – attorneys and even the unrepresented are going to Court and professing that they possessed hemp or hemp oil. THe result was that many cases were getting dismissed. Some counties stopped filing Marijuana and THC oil cases altogether. But bad news for those living in Houston – the Houston Forensic Science Center issued a press release on September 8, 2020 stating that THEIR LAB CAN TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HEMP AND MARIJUANA.

The method launched Tuesday by HFSC’s seized drugs section can measure whether delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC,) the controlled substance in the cannabis plant that causes a “high,” is above or below 1 percent. This will allow the laboratory to differentiate illegal marijuana from legal hemp. However, the method is limited in scope since it will measure THC concentrations at 1 percent or more although the law defines any item with a THC concentration of more than 0.3 percent as a controlled substance. As a result, HFSC will require stakeholders to acknowledge the limitations of the testing in an end-user agreement. HFSC will also note those limitations on all final reports.

So there are two positive things about this press release. First, they STILL cannot differentiate between marijuana oil (THC oil, dabs, wax, etc) and hemp oil (CBD oil, etc). These are more serious charges, because they are a Felony. The lab can still not quantify the THC content of the oil. Second, the lab can only tell if the Marijuana flower has over 1% concentration. But to be honest, the days of there being no labs that can tell the difference between hemp products and marijuana products are numbered.


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If accused of a drug crime, including Possession of Marijuana or Cannabis Oil (THC), you need an attorney with proven results, winning cases.  Attorney Tristan LeGrande gets results – CALL NOW for a Free Consultation!

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