The Newfound Need for Austin Lawyers to Fight Felony Drug Possession Charges for Texas High Schoolers

How a Bill Legalizing Hemp Has Led to Texas Students Being Unjustly Detained:

Following the 2018 farm bill which legalized hemp- a marijuana plant containing 0.3% or less of the psychoactive compound THC- and Texas state’s legalization of hemp in 2019, delta-8, a hemp-derived low potency form of THC was also inadvertently legalized despite marijuana remaining illegal. Since the legalization of delta-8, Texas streets have been flooded with legal flavored delta-8 vapes which have become a favorite among local high schoolers. These delta-8 vapes often look identical to their illegal THC counterparts, resulting in cloudy drug enforcement given the stark contrasts in criminal possession penalties between the two substances, despite them sharing many physical and chemical similarities.

A THC vape is classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, with possession being considered a felony. In contrast, the penalty for possessing a legal delta-8 vape is a ticket similar to that given for underage drinking or tobacco use. Schools throughout Texas are cracking down on vaping and police are now offering rewards to students who report their peers for vaping, with those suspected of possessing an illegal THC vape often being placed in handcuffs and even brought to jail with pending felony charges. Delta-8 has become so popular among Texas youth that in 2021, the Texas State Health Department attempted to classify delta-8 as a controlled substance before being blocked by the cannabis industry.

With many police stations only testing if a vape contains THC, tests often cannot differentiate between illegal marijuana and legal hemp, as despite containing vastly different concentrations of THC both plants are taxonomically the same species. This leaves students with the burden to prove that they were in possession of a legal delta-8 vape, which is often difficult without further lab testing or the help of an Austin lawyer  fight federal drug possession charges.

The importance of Hiring a Lawyer to fight felony drug possession charges in High Schoolers in Austin and Throughout Texas:

If you’re a high schooler recently charged with a drug crime in Travis County, Texas, it is crucial to hire an Austin lawyer to fight what could potentially be felony drug possession charges. While many district attorneys and prosecutors need more information regarding a vape’s THC concentration and will require the vape be tested in a state lab, state labs just started testing between marijuana and hemp in September 2022, with backlogs resulting in months to years before a test may return with any conclusive evidence. During this time students should hire a lawyer to aid in avoiding paying a hefty bail as they await their lab results and provide counsel that alleviates any potential apprehension regarding this new form of testing providing a faulty reading.

If you weren’t already convinced to hire a lawyer, lab results finding that a vape contains illegal THC could land you up to ten years in prison for possession or use, with a permanent criminal record potentially leading to lifelong difficulties in obtaining a job or housing. Even if results find that a vape contained the legal derivative of THC, you will be cited with possession of drug paraphernalia and potentially placed in disciplinary school (a part of the state’s juvenile system), as Texas law requires that under most circumstances a student using, in possession of, or distributing any form of THC be expelled from school.

Many areas of Texas have ceased prosecuting low level marijuana offenses altogether due to the state’s increasingly favorable views towards legalization and the notoriously high price of testing in crime labs already dealing with more serious substances such as fentanyl. However, prosecutors mostly use their discretion when opting out of felony charges. This has led to certain areas, such as Round Rock (a city just north of Austin), requiring the district police department to file felony reports against any student in possession of a THC vape regardless of the likelihood of the vape containing delta-8. Whether you know the vape you used was delta-8 or not, if you have been charged with felony drug possession in Red Rock, or another area that continues to prosecute low level THC use, contact a local or Austin based lawyer who will fight your felony drug possession charges.