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Cannabis Prosecutions in Texas Drop After Hemp Legalization

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Since hemp legalization took effect in Texas, cannabis prosecutions have dropped by more than half.

According to The Texas Tribune, the number of low-level cannabis cases has significantly dropped in the state because it is too costly and confusing to test all small amounts of cannabis to verify if they are actually hemp or cannabis.

While the Texas Department of Public Safety and local government crime labs are currently coming up with a testing method for seized plant material, there isn’t a definitive way for them to test vape pen liquid or edibles, and it’s perfectly legal for those things to contain hemp. And even when the testing is ready for flower, there aren’t resources to test hundreds of thousands of samples, so it would only be used in particular cases.

“If law enforcement agencies and prosecutors asked for all of those to be tested when these new procedures become available . . . DPS would start with such a huge backlog that it would likely never get caught up,” said Shannon Edmonds, director of governmental relations for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, to The Texas Tribune. “One decision for prosecutors and law enforcement agencies and the labs is: How do they triage these cases to focus on the most important ones?”

In 2018, records show that Texas filed up to 5,900 misdemeanor cannabis possession cases every month. The beginning of 2019 saw an average of more than 5,600 new cases filed per month. However, since the legalization of hemp in June, the number dropped dramatically with less than 2,000 misdemeanor cases were filed this past November.

Since Texas legalized hemp, a lot of changes have taken place. The state is planning to open the country’s largest cannabis processing plant, and they are slowly but surely getting a medical cannabis program. This could be a huge year for cannabis in the great state of Texas.

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