Hemp creating issues for Amarillo law enforcement

Updated: Jan. 9, 2020 at 10:12 AM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - It was one of the main topics at this year’s farm and ranch show, but with certain laws and regulations still in the process of being created by the state, it has created confusion at the local level.

“There’s just no way other than a test that you can decide if something has point three THC levels or greater than point three THC levels,” said Robert Love, Randall County Criminal District Attorney.

District Attorney Love says some prosecutors are waiting for the guidelines DPS submitted for testing to be approved so until then, if marijuana is suspected, it can only be confiscated and held until it can be tested.

“What we’re doing in Randall county is we’re keeping those cases where they have suspected marijuana and we are putting those cases in our systems, we’re not filing charges at this point and we’re just waiting for the time where we can send in the substances for testing. In Randall county we are going to prosecute anybody who processes marijuana as opposed to hemp,” said Love.

However, in the process of waiting, hemp experts say if not treated correctly, confiscation could ruin the crop.

“When these products, these legal hemp products are confiscated, these are food grade, perishable products. So the longer they are held in custody, especially in uncontrolled environments of temperature, humidity etc., it’s degrading the quality of these products,” said Shelia Hemphill, executive director of Texas Hemp Industries Association.

The difference between hemp and marijuana is the level of THC, which creates the feeling of being high, which can’t exceed more than 0.3% if it’s a hemp crop.

Law enforcement says the confusion is due to the Texas hemp bill that went into effect last summer. Law enforcement wasn't ready for what this bill would allow creating the repercussions we see today.

However, since there is much unknown about this crop, experts say the possibility of confusion is likely to continue.

“Just because hemp may be legal to grow this growing season, I certainly don’t think that means these issues are going to go away. In fact I think when we see the final plan from Texas, it’s probably going to raise a bunch more questions that producers need to be aware of. What I would tell anybody who is considering growing hemp, anybody who’s involved in transportation, expect there to be issues and expect there to be bugs that need to be worked out of the system,” said Tiffany Lashmet, extension agricultural law specialist.

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