Texas Marijuana Arrests Fall by More Than Half
Roughly 6 months ago, the great state of Texas legalized industrial hemp. The nearly-identical cousin of the still federally illegal Cannabis plant has hundreds of applications for consumers and manufacturers. The plant can be turned into fabrics, plastics, health and beauty products, and lots more. An unintended side-effect from hemp's newly minted legal status - a dramatic drop in marijuana-related arrests across Lone Star State.
The problem arises when officers on the street come across what they suspect is pot. The 2 plant species look and even smell so similar, it's nearly impossible to distinguish them from each other without thorough lab testing. That testing is so expensive and time consuming that it becomes impractical to send every suspected sample to the lab.
Essentially, Law enforcement officials in Texas have to decide if a pot bust is worth the cost to the state every time. According to Click 2 Houston, a field test is being developed for seized plant material - but determining if edibles and vape pens contain THC (the psychoactive substance found in marijuana) would remain virtually impossible outside of a lab.
The first 5 months of 2019 (before hemp was legalized) saw around 5,500 new marijuana-related cases each month. Since June, that number has been cut down to less than half - in November that number was close to 2,000.