Legalization Of Hemp Leads To Changes In Four Texas Counties

Barbara Schwarz
July 03, 2019 - 4:30 pm
Lab Testing Hemp, Cannabis

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Hemp is a cousin of marijuana, and a substance with more than 0.3 percent THC is considered  marijuana. Anything under that is deemed legal hemp. 

Harris, Bexar, Fort Bend and Nueces counties say they're going to first require lab tests before they prosecute cases involving small amounts of marijuana. Most Texas crime labs can't test for exact amounts of THC. 

Dr. Peter Stout, president of Houston Forensic Science Center says Texas crime labs either don't have the equipment, the validated testing methods or the accreditation. "Or if they've got all of those things, they just don't have the capacity. Any way you go at it, we're stuck on something."

He says testing will be a problem, especially when it comes to all of the food stuffs and the vape oils and the pens are the products. "I'm really concerned about because they are much more complex to test. Right now we see a lot of those products and we're going to see more in the future." 

He says before the law was signed on June 10th if his lab detected THC in a pot brownie or vape pen, all he had to demonstrate that there was THC there, and not the concentration. In a plant material, a chemical test looked for hair like structures on the leaves and that was sufficient to determine the substance was marijuana.

He says the kind of equipment needed for this testing is $300,000 to $400,000 per unit.