Marijuana laws have been all over the place in Texas. Many states have passed laws permitting marijuana for medical use. While some states have decriminalized marijuana, others have legalized recreational marijuana. However, Texas has been strict with marijuana laws. So, what’s happening now?
Did Texas accidentally decriminalize marijuana?
In June, Texas passed a bill that legalized the production of hemp and hemp-derived products like CBD oil. However, the state might have accidentally decriminalized marijuana, according to a GQ article on August 20. According to prosecutors, the bill made it difficult for law enforcement to determine if a substance is hemp or marijuana. The new testing is expensive for law enforcement officials.
Difference between marijuana and hemp
The THC level is the difference between hemp and marijuana. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive ingredient. If the THC level is 0.3% or more, its marijuana. When the THC level is below 0.3%, it’s hemp. In an update in June, the Texas District and County Attorneys Association stated that the bill’s side effects passed. They said that the sudden execution of the law didn’t give crime labs in Texas the time or resources to differentiate legal hemp from illegal marijuana.
The prosecutor’s association and state crime labs said that they don’t have the resources to detect the TCH level correctly. As a result, hundreds of marijuana cases were dropped. According to the Texas Tribune, Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said, “I will also be informing the law enforcement agencies by letter not to file marijuana or THC felony cases without consulting with the DA’s Office first to determine whether the necessary lab testing can be obtained.”
Florida and Ohio accidentally decriminalized marijuana
Besides Texas, Florida and Ohio also unintentionally decriminalized marijuana. In June, Florida passed a bill to administer regulations regarding hemp licensing and cultivation. In July, Ohio passed a similar bill, which accidentally didn’t determine hemp from marijuana. The bill allows farmers to grow hemp. As a result, the bill legalized manufacturing and selling CBD products derived from the cannabis plant. Lawmakers have faced challenges in all three of the states.
Is Texas down for marijuana legalization?
Texas has been a pretty strict state when it comes to cannabis laws. Even possessing a tiny amount of marijuana can land an individual in jail in Texas. The penalties could get more severe. A Cato Institute report this week discussed how strict Texas has been with cannabis laws. In 2017, Texas made 62,057 arrests related to marijuana possession. The report said that arrests related to marijuana violations have increased from 6.8% to 8.2% since 2010. Therefore, passing the bill has been a challenge for law enforcement officials.
However, Republican leadership in Texas explained in a letter to the Texas District and County Attorneys Association that marijuana hasn’t been decriminalized in Texas.
Hemp business expands among cannabis players
The federal Farm Bill passed in 2018. The bill legalized regulated hemp cultivation. Notably, the Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. The bill allows the transfer of hemp-derived products to other states for commercial or other purposes. Since then, many states have chosen to legalize hemp. The states want to profit from the growing hemp market. Currently, around 47 states have passed some kind of hemp legislation.
Many cannabis players are also cashing in on the hemp business. Recently, Tilray (TLRY) finalized a deal with the largest hemp foods company. Tilray acquired Manitoba Harvest in February. The company introduced a wide variety of hemp-extracted products in the second quarter. Tilray’s earnings results haven’t been strong this year. The company has reported net losses. Overall, the stock has fallen 35.1% in August and 62.4% YTD (year-to-date).
Canopy Growth (CGC) (WEED) is moving forward with its plan to open a New York hemp-growing facility, which could boost the US CBD market. The company acquired AgriNext USA to advance its hemp business. Canopy Growth had disappointing results for the first quarter of 2020. The company’s top line and bottom line missed the estimates. The stock has fallen 28.0% in August and 12.5% YTD.
Aurora Cannabis (ACB) has been developing hemp-based products. The company acquired Hempco Food and Fiber’s outstanding common shares. Is the hemp business expanding amid trade war tensions? Read Hit by Trade War, Tobacco Farmers Turn to Hemp to learn more. Aurora Cannabis is scheduled to report its results next month. The company increased its revenue guidance for the quarter. Aurora Cannabis stock has fallen 10.8% in August. So far, the stock has risen 12.2% YTD.
Some presidential candidates support cannabis legalization. The 2020 presidential election is heating up. Marijuana legalization is a significant policy issue in the election campaign. Will loopholes in legislation complicate the situation for the cannabis industry? Read Marijuana Legalization: Is the White House Warming Up? to learn more. Stay tuned with us for the latest news.
Correction: We updated this post to explain the difference in the THC level between hemp and marijuana.