A Tale of Two Cannabinoids: Marijuana vs. Hemp
by: Jasmine M. Drake, Ph.D., Elycia S. Daniel, M.A., and Jennifer W. Bourgeois, M.S.
As Marijuana decriminalization legislation rapidly sweeps across the United States for either medicinal or recreational use, the potential ramifications for the criminal justice and crime laboratory have not yet been fully explored. Although Marijuana is illegal on a Federal level, the definition of Marijuana is now changing based on new Federal and local legal requirements. For example, according to the U.S. Farm bill, Hemp products, which have Δ-9 tetrahydrocannabinol or THC concentrations < 0.3 % are no longer considered as illegal, according to Federal Law. Similarly, with the passing of HB 1325 in Texas, the legal definition of Marijuana has also changed to only include products or plant materials with Δ-9 THC concentrations > 0.3 %. These new legal requirements not only impact the public but may create new obstacles for crime laboratories and the criminal justice system in the analysis and the prosecution of marijuana charges. In this paper, the new definitions of legal Hemp vs. illegal Marijuana will be presented along with the potential considerations and implications for the criminal justice system and crime laboratories in Texas.