Harris County District Attorney changes hemp, marijuana case filing policy in the wake of new state laws

HB 1325 legalizes products containing no more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive element in marijuana known as THC.

HB 1325 legalizes products containing no more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive element in marijuana known as THC.

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office announced July 2 it will no longer accept criminal charges for misdemeanor possession of marijuana without a test result proving that the substance has a THC concentration over a certain percentage.

Hemp and marijuana were redefined under House Bill 1325, which was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott June 10. State law now recognizes a substance as hemp, which is legal if the tetrahydrocannabinol—or THC—concentration is less than 0.3%. If the THC concentration is greater than 0.3%, the substance is legally recognized as marijuana. This makes THC level relevant in the prosecution of marijuana cases, according to a July 2 press release from Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg’s office.

A misdemeanor charge for marijuana possession is applicable in Harris County in cases that involve four ounces or less of the substance.

Under HB 1325, proof beyond a reasonable doubt in cases involving marijuana will require laboratory testing for THC concentration, Ogg said. THC is the psychoactive element in marijuana.

The bill defines hemp as “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant … with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis,” according to the release. The bill also creates a statewide Hemp Production Plan that permits the growing of hemp as a crop.

Marijuana is defined as the plant, its seeds and “every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of that plant or its seeds,” per the release. Felony marijuana charges will be evaluated on a case by case basis by the District Attorney’s office, and in some instances, charges may be taken while lab test results are pending, according to the release.

HB 1325 was sponsored by more than a dozen state legislators, many of whom represent the greater Austin and San Antonio areas. Ogg’s release comes after Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon said that, while the bill legalizes hemp and hemp-derived products, he will continue to pursue marijuana prosecutions because the proper rules and regulations have not been established.
By


MOST RECENT

Imperio Wine & Spirits sells a variety of liquor, beer, wine and spirits. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Imperio Wine & Spirits opens in Katy; Montgomery Chick-fil-A to open dining room and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Greater Houston area.

After the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance May 13 that ended all mask requirements for fully vaccinated people, HISD released a statement saying mask mandates would remain in place for the time being for facilities and campuses. (Community Impact staff)
Houston ISD to leave mask policy in place for now

The district is also soliciting feedback on how to spend $800M in pandemic relief funding.

The Ion features an outdoor plaza that helps the building maintain its outdoor, open and walkable focus for its visitors. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
GALLERY: See the progress on The Ion ahead of an anticipated early fall opening

The building—brought to life from a $100 million investment from Rice University—is slated to open in early fall 2021.

See how some Greater Houston area school districts are planning to go back to school for the 2021-22 academic year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
See how some Greater Houston area school districts are planning to go back to school for the 2021-22 academic year

While some school districts in the Greater Houston area are doing away with face mask requirements and virtual schooling completely, others are pivoting to continue offering online learning options for students and plan to require face masks.

(Courtesy city of Houston)
BREAKING: Collins Aerospace coming to Houston Spaceport

Houston officials have announced another company slated for the Houston Spaceport at Ellington Airport in Clear Lake.

masks
CDC ends all mask requirements for fully vaccinated people

The guidance states fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors or outdoors.

Single-family home sales were up 47.4% compared to last April with 9,105 units sold versus 6,175 a year earlier. (Courtesy Houston Association of Realtors)
HAR: Houston-area home sales in April up 47% compared to last year

Single-family home sales were up 47.4% compared to April 2020.

House Bill 1024, signed into law May 12, allows restaurants and bars to permanently sell alcoholic beverages to-go. (Courtesy Pexels)
Cocktails to-go are here to stay in Texas: Gov. Greg Abbott signs change into law May 12

Supporters say the change will help restaurants continue to recover from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Huffington Park will soon see some key improvements. (Courtesy city of West University Place)
Huffington Park will undergo $200K renovation starting May 17

Huffington Park, at 6204 College St., West University Place, will soon be undergoing several key renovations.

New details could emerge soon on the potential use of underground tunnels to carry flood water in Harris County, and officials voted May 11 to dedicate an additional $3.26 million to study efforts along Buffalo Bayou. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
County commissioners expand scope of flood tunnel study as next phase nears completion

New details could emerge soon on the potential use of underground tunnels to carry flood water in Harris County, and officials voted May 11 to dedicate an additional $3.26 million to study efforts along Buffalo Bayou.

Residents will have until May 2023 to obtain a Real ID. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
US Department of Homeland Security extends Real ID deadline until 2023

Drivers will have until May 2023 to get the Real ID, which will be required for adults boarding a U.S. commercial flight.