Despite being sold legally, some hemp products are blurring the line between licit and illicit, complicating the legal status of marijuana in Texas. A bill recently proposed by State Rep. Nicole Collier aims to resolve some of the confusion.
For decades, there existed no distinction in U.S. law between marijuana and hemp, both of which are derived from the cannabis plant but serve completely different purposes.
Unlike marijuana, hemp cannot contain any more than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis.
However, a gray area exists known as “hot hemp,” which is when so-called “hemp” vaporizers and other products cross the legal limit of THC and can invoke the same psychoactive effects as marijuana.
Since full-THC marijuana is still illegal in Texas, someone who purchases a hemp product they believed to be legal could be prosecuted if it exceeds the legal limit.
The most potent form of THC, Delta-9, is illegal in Texas, but an ongoing legal battle has allowed for the less potent Delta-8 to be legal.
Some hemp products which are loosely regulated, such as vaporizers, could contain Delta-8 along with a small percentage of Delta-9.
Despite “lab-tested” claims from some companies, consumers cannot be fully sure whether or not their product has illegal amounts of THC.
Texas House Bill 382, the legislation proposed by Rep. Collier, could protect those who unknowingly purchase “hot hemp.”
If the bill passes, it would stop prosecution for those who “[possess] a product that purports by the product’s label to contain a consumable hemp product that is authorized under state or federal law.”
The person who had purchased the product must also have “reasonably believed” that the retailer was authorized to sell the product.
“House Bill 382 protects law-abiding consumers from the potential legal consequences of unintentionally purchasing a controlled substance from an otherwise reputable retailer,” Collier stated.
Under the bill, retailers who were responsibly purchasing products from a manufacturer would also be protected if they were given merchandise containing too much THC.