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Hemp Law: Texas DPS Told Not To Arrest In Low-Level Weed Cases

A memo obtained by The Texas Tribune instructs DPS officers to cite and release suspects in misdemeanor marijuana cases "as appropriate."

Texas’ largest law enforcement agency is moving away from arresting people for low-level marijuana offenses. It’s the latest development in the chaos that has surrounded pot prosecution after state lawmakers legalized hemp this year.

As of July 10, all Texas Department of Public Safety officers have been instructed to issue a citation for people with a misdemeanor amount of the suspected drug — less than 4 ounces in possession cases — when possible, according to an interoffice memo obtained by The Texas Tribune. The citation requires a person to appear in court and face their criminal charges.

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Those issued a citation for misdemeanor charges still face the same penalties if convicted — up to a year in jail and fine of $4,000.

“Departmental personnel are expected to continue enforcing marijuana related offenses,” the memo states. “However, effective immediately, personnel will cite and release for any misdemeanor amount of marijuana.”

Find out what's happening in Austin with free, real-time updates from Patch.

“Texas DPS officers told not to arrest in low-level marijuana cases after new hemp law” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

The DPS policy change came about a week before Republican state leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott, chastised prosecutors who have dropped marijuana cases or put them on hold because of the new law. Prosecutors have claimed they need new lab reports to differentiate hemp from marijuana. A DPS statement said Thursday that the agency’s memo was sent to reinforce that marijuana enforcement should continue despite local prosecutors now refusing cases.

“This internal memo was necessary in order to address reports that local prosecutors were interpreting the new statute differently, which was impacting the level of enforcement action law enforcement could take,” the statement read. “Even in jurisdictions where the local prosecutor will not accept marihuana cases without a quantitative lab report, DPS will continue to enforce the law through available statutory means, including cite and release as an alternative to putting people in jail.”

A spokesperson for Abbott did not immediately respond to questions for this story.

The memo by Randall Prince, deputy director of law enforcement operations at DPS, was sent out to guide enforcement practices in light of the new hemp bill that passed the Texas Legislature, House Bill 1325, and was signed into law last month. Prince clarified that HB 1325 does not decriminalize marijuana, writing, “Because marijuana and hemp come from the same plant, it is difficult to definitively distinguish the two without a laboratory analysis.”

That difficulty has led prosecutors across the state to drop hundreds of low-level marijuana cases and stop accepting new ones, since lab testing to differentiate between now-legal hemp and illegal marijuana is not currently available in government crime labs.

But while prosecutors have said the lack of testing knocks down their ability to prove something is marijuana beyond a reasonable doubt and secure a guilty verdict, the DPS memo stated that officers can still find probable cause — the legal burden needed to charge someone with a crime. Prince said the possibility that a substance is hemp, not pot, doesn’t outweigh the burden. He added that hemp production in Texas hasn’t yet started, making it “unlikely that any substance encountered now is hemp.”

However, in Tarrant County, law enforcement has sent some pending felony cases to a private lab that can differentiate between hemp and marijuana. The difference is marked by the level of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in a cannabis substance. THC is the part of cannabis that gets you high. If it contains less than 0.3% of THC, it’s legal hemp; otherwise, it’s illegal marijuana.

The first two substances that came back with test results in Tarrant County contained 13% and 15% THC — making them marijuana, according to a spokesperson for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office. The third substance in a marijuana case had 0.2% THC — which is legal hemp.

It’s still unclear how much the new policy will impact marijuana prosecutions statewide. DPS did not respond to questions about how often its officers arrested people on misdemeanor marijuana offenses before the law change. The last annual safety report on the agency’s website, from 2016, says highway patrol troopers conducted about 65,000 criminal arrests — with no indication of how many were for marijuana or any other drug. In all of Texas in 2016, law enforcement officers arrested about 86,000 people on misdemeanor marijuana charges, according to DPS statistics given to budget officials this year.

There are also restrictions to the policy directive. Under Texas law, citations in lieu of arrest are only allowed if the suspected crime happens in the same county where the person lives. Marijuana found during traffic stops outside of a suspect’s home county along Texas highways, where DPS troopers often patrol, would still result in arrests.

And perhaps most restrictive, the memo says DPS regions should first consult with local prosecutors before implementing the new policy of cite and release and “follow each prosecutors’ direction regarding whether to cite or arrest.”

DPS said in its statement that before the hemp law, DPS was arresting and booking people on marijuana possession cases in most counties, and “we will continue to do just that in jurisdictions where prosecutors are accepting cases without a quantitative lab report.”

A growing number of law enforcement agencies have cite-and-release policies for low-level charges. Some counties also offer defendants a diversion program to keep their records clean and keep them out of jail. These types of policies exist in Harris, Dallas, Bexar, Travis and Nueces counties. They rely on a court system in place to accept those cases.

“It’s a collaborative effort,” said Troy Gay, Austin Police Department’s chief of staff. “If a court does not have a cite-and-release process set up, there’s no way for any law enforcement in that jurisdiction to do that.”

Most counties don’t have that process, potentially stopping DPS cite-and-release practices in largest parts of Texas. Gay did not have information on how often people in Austin cited for misdemeanor offenses failed to show up to their court dates, but he said police are arresting people much less. From the first fiscal quarter of 2018 to 2019, the arrest rate for cite-and-release eligible offenses dropped 59%, he said. The Travis County attorney, who handles misdemeanor prosecution, did not immediately respond to questions about cite and release.

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Buy CBD Oil And Hemp Insurance Texas

Get the best TX small business insurance quotes online & info on cost, coverage, minimum requirements, certificates & more.

  1. General Liability Insurance
  2. CBD Oil And Hemp Insurance Texas

CBD Oil And Hemp Insurance Texas Policy Information

DISCLAIMER:: Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and as such it remains a federal crime to grow, sell, and/or use marijuana. Any content contained herein is not intended to provide legal advice or to assist with violation of any state or federal law.

CBD Oil And Hemp Insurance Texas. From aches and pains to anxiety relief, CBD oil has been touted as an all-natural cure-all. Because of the vast ailments that it can help to ease, and since there are very minimal side effects, countless people are turning to CBD oil as an alternative treatment for a variety of conditions.

Given the increased demand for CBD oil, you might be thinking about starting up your own business, either manufacturing or selling it. It can certainly be a lucrative business opportunity; plus, operating a business that offers CBD products can be very gratifying, as you’ll providing the public with a product that can help them in a myriad of ways.

If you’re thinking about starting up a TX CBD oil business, there are a number of things that you need to keep in mind so that you can set yourself up for success. One of the most important factors that you need to consider is insurance. Like any industry, there are a number of risks that can be associated with making or selling products that contain CBD oil.

Why do CBD manufactures and distributors need commercial CBD oil and hemp insurance Texas? What type of coverage should they carry? Read on to find the answers to these questions so you can keep your business, your clients, your employees – and yourself – protected.

Why Insurance Is Important For CBD & Hemp Manufacturers And Distributors

Despite your best attempts to offer the highest quality products and to ensure that your TX place of business is safe for your employees and clients, there is always a chance that something will go awry. If you sell CBD products, a client could have a bad reaction; or, if you run a facility that manufacturers CBD oil, an employee could be injured on the job, or a vendor could slip and fall while making a delivery.

These are just some of the problems that could occur. In the event that something does go wrong – a client sues you, an employee is injured, or your commercial space is vandalized or damaged in a fire, for example – you’ll be legally responsible for covering the costs that are associated with mishaps.

Legal defense fees, settlements, repairing or replacing damaged or stolen property, and medical bills can be quite expensive; but, as the proprietor of your establishment, you will have to pay for these types of expenses. If you have the right type of insurance coverage, you avoid paying such exorbitant costs out of your own pocket. Instead, in exchange for paying your premiums, the company that carries your insurance policy, will cover the expenses, up to the limits of your policy.

In other words, CBD oil and hemp insurance Texas insurance can help you avoid financial ruin; not to mention the fact you’re legally required to carry certain forms of commercial insurance.

Types Of Insurance Coverage for CBD & Hemp Manufacturers and Distributors

What type of CBD oil and hemp insurance Texas should you carry if you are making or selling CBD and hemp products? There are several different types of coverage that you should invest in, but the following are the most important:

  • Commercial General Liability – If a client claims that your product caused them harm and sues you, or if a vendor slips and falls on your property and files a suit, commercial general liability insurance will cover the expenses for you. This type of insurance will assist with legal defense fees, settlements, and any medical bills that you are responsible for.
  • Commercial Property – Your warehouse or store could catch on fire, or someone could vandalize it and steal equipment and inventory. In these types of situations, commercial property insurance will help to pay for the damages and repairs to your building, as well as the cost of replacing any lost or stolen items.
  • Workers compensation – If any employee sustains a work-related injury, you, the employer, will have to pay any medical care that’s require, as well as cover the cost of lost wages, and possibly more. Workers’ comp insurance covers these types of expenses. It pays for medical care that an employee may require, replaces the wages that he or she lost while recovering, and can even help to pay for legal defense if the employee decides to sue.

These are just some of the different types of CBD oil and hemp insurance Texas coverage that CBD oil manufactures and sellers should carry.

TX CBD Oil Derived From Marijuana Risks & Exposures

The legality of CBD can vary from state to state and federally, but in general, one of the main determining factors is whether the CBD is derived from hemp or marijuana. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation and transportation of cannabis products, including CBD oil, on a federal level – as long as the hemp being grown and transported contains 0.3% or less of the cannabinoid THC.

Introduction: Marijuana products manufacturers start with raw cannabis leaves. The stem is removed from the leaf and the leaf is cleaned and cured. Curing involves drying the leaves and sometimes adding flavoring agents. Additional processing converts the leaf into a liquid, loose-leaf, oil, powder, pill, rolled or vapor form that can be sold.

Some manufacturers develop creams, lotions, and other topically applied products that are infused with marijuana. Others may develop edibles that are made with marijuana-infused butter. As marijuana becomes more normalized, additional products will be developed.

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Some research indicates that marijuana is useful in pain relief for conditions such as chemotherapy-induced nausea, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and neuropathy, and as an appetite stimulant for such disorders as AIDS wasting syndrome. However, the FDA has not approved it for any type of medicinal or recreational use as no studies have been done in clinical trial settings. Conducting clinical research involves the FDA along with the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse). Concerns have been expressed as to the lack of consistency in drug purity and potency, impact on fetuses by pregnant women, and long-term usage implications such as drug dependency.

Currently, over half of the states have approved the use of medicinal marijuana under specifically defined circumstances, while nine states have approved its recreational use in small quantities. Manufacturing and distribution guidelines vary by state, as well as the form in which the product may be sold. However, the federal government continues to criminalize the growth, cultivation, and use of marijuana regardless of the circumstances. It is unclear how the differences in state and federal law will ultimately be resolved.

Premises liability exposure is normally low due to limited access by visitors. If tours are offered, visitors may be injured by slips, trips, or falls, or may be exposed to toxic or caustic chemicals. Floor coverings should be in good condition, no frayed or worn spots on carpet and no cracks or holes in flooring. Steps and uneven floor surfaces should be prominently marked. Enough exits must be provided and be well marked, with backup lighting systems in case of power failure.

Parking lots and sidewalks need to be in good repair with snow and ice removed, and generally level and free of exposure to slips and falls. If the business is open after dark, there should be adequate lighting and appropriate security for the area. Toxins released in a fire or fumes, spills or leaks from chemical tanks may cause serious injury or property damage to neighboring properties.

Products liability exposure is currently unknown as no long-term scientific studies have yet been completed evaluating the effects of marijuana on human health. There could be serious adverse impacts as users tend to hold the smoke in their lungs longer than tobacco smokers. However, tobacco products receive a federal exemption from most types of product liability claims as tobacco has been a known carcinogen since the 1960’s.

Such an exemption is not available for marijuana manufacturers. A concern with edibles is that they are visually indistinguishable from non-marijuana infused products and packaging is attractive to children.

Environmental impairment exposures are moderate. Sudden or cumulative discharges of chemicals used as additives (which may be toxic or combustible or both) may contaminate air, surface or ground water, or soil. Disposal procedures must adhere to all EPA and other regulatory standards.

Workers compensation exposure may be high. Injuries from production machinery are common, as are burns, cuts, slips, trips, falls, hearing loss from machinery noise, and back injuries from lifting. Employees should be provided with safety equipment, trained on proper handling techniques and have conveying devises available to assist with heavy lifting. Flammable liquids and chemicals can cause skin and eye irritation.

Cumulative exposure to marijuana dust may create a potential for lung and respiratory diseases and injuries. Drivers of forklifts and vehicles may be injured in accidents. Appropriate ventilation of the facility is crucial because of the potential impairment of employees due to exposure to the product that may contribute to accidents and possible long-term health issues.

Property exposures include offices, drying facilities, processing areas, and warehouses for raw marijuana and finished goods. Ignition sources include electrical wiring, heating and air conditioning systems, dryers, and production machinery. The large draft spaces in storage warehouses can contribute to the spread of a fire. Chemical additives may be highly flammable and add to the fire load. Accumulations of dust can result in explosions. This hazard increases in the absence of well-maintained dust collection systems.

Raw goods and finished products, which are highly combustible and easily contaminated by smoke, temperature changes, and humidity, are also targeted by thieves due to the high resale value in the black market. Vandalism can result from trespassers and protestors. Appropriate security controls must be taken including physical barriers to prevent entrance to the premises after hours and an alarm system that reports directly to a central station or the police department.

Equipment breakdown exposures include breakdown losses to production equipment, dust collection and ventilation systems, electrical control panels, and other apparatus. Breakdown and loss of use to the conveyor and other production machinery could result in a significant loss, both direct and under time element.

Crime exposures are chiefly from employee dishonesty and theft of money and securities due to the high resale value of marijuana products on the black market. Employees may act alone or in collusion with outsiders in stealing money, raw materials, or finished stock. Background checks should be conducted on all employees. There must be a separation of duties between persons handling deposits and disbursements and handling bank statements.

Inland marine exposures include accounts receivable if the manufacturer offers credit, computers (which may include computer-run production equipment), goods in transit, and valuable papers and records for customers’ and suppliers’ information as well as quality control testing results. Backup copies of all records should be made and stored off premises. Goods in transit may be damaged by fire, theft, collision and overturn, or contamination.

Commercial auto exposure may be moderate if the manufacturer transports raw materials or finished products. Manufacturers generally have private passenger fleets used by sales representatives. There should be written procedures regarding the private use of these vehicles by others. Drivers should have an appropriate license and an acceptable MVR. All vehicles must be well maintained with documentation kept in a central location. If the product is in the vehicle with the driver, adequate ventilation is important to prevent driving impairment.

CBD Oil And Hemp Insurance – The Bottom Line

To learn more about the policies you should invest in and how much CBD oil and hemp insurance Texas coverage you should carry, speak with a reputable insurance broker.

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Texas Economic Outlook & Requirements For Commercial Insurance

If you are considering opening up a business in the Lone Star State, you first want to make sure that it is a sound location for your operations. That means that you should understand some key information related to the state’s economy, as well as the types of insurance coverages that businesses are legally required to carry.

Economic Outlook For The State Of Texas

In terms of the economy, Texas offers fantastic news for those who are thinking about starting up a business in this state. That’s because the Lone Star State has the second largest economy of all 50 states in the nation. The gross state product is valued at an estimated at over $1.706 trillion in 2022. In 2015, the state was the headquarters for six of the top 50 Fortune 500 companies.

As expected, several industries contribute to the economy of Texas. One of the most notable industries is agriculture. In fact, this state has the highest production of cattle, sheep, and goat products. It is also the largest producer of cotton and cereal crops. Other crops that this state is famed for include cantaloupes, watermelons, and grapefruits.

Other leading industries in the State of Texas include:

  • Aeronautics
  • Defense
  • Computer Technology
  • Energy
  • Tourism
  • Entertainment
  • Healthcare

If you are considering going into business in TX, having an operation in any of these industries will likely afford you success.

Commercial Insurance Regulations For Business Owners In TX

The Texas Department of Insurance regulates is the main insurance regulatory agency in the Lone Star State. Texas is quite lenient when it comes to insurance requirements for business owners. In fact, there is only one type of insurance that business owners are legally required to carry, and that is commercial auto insurance. If you are planning on using a vehicle for anything related to your business, whether it’s making deliveries, transporting goods, or meeting with clients, you must have a commercial auto insurance policy.

While Workers’ Compensation coverage is required in every other state, in TX, is it not mandated; however, if you decide not to carry this type of coverage, you will be required to offer your employees some type of incentive package in the event that the do become injured or develop a work-related illness.

Additional Resources For Manufacturing Insurance

Learn all about manufacturing insurance. Manufacturers face many unique risks such as product libility and/or product recall exposures due to the nature of their business operations.

For manufacturers, having the proper coverage is very important. You will need Products/Completed Operations Liability Coverage to protect you against injuries or property damage cause my the products you make or sell.

Manufacturing is an extremely broad category that includes countless potential hazards and exposures in virtually all coverage areas. Because of this, every individual manufacturer is unique and a specific risk survey of every operation is advisable.

The basic insurance needs for every class of business or operation includes property coverage for buildings, machinery and equipment, as well as for raw stock and finished products.

Liability insurance for premises exposures is important but products liability insurance presents greater concerns so these exposures and coverage needs must be evaluated carefully.

In addition, protection for injuries to workers, environmental coverages and automobile insurance are priority items.

What does the insured does that could result in a covered loss? The insuring agreement only requires that the insured be legally obligated to pay damages for injury to others or damage to their property included within the products-completed operations hazard covered by the insurance.

Because of this, every product manufactured and completed operation exposure for each named insured must be determined, described and evaluated to be certain that each represents acceptable exposures, or are acceptable classes of business to the insurance company providing coverage.

Once the extent of all business activities and operations is determined, the process of identifying hazards begins. The first step in the process is completely listing and describing all current products being manufactured and projects being worked on.

The next step is obtaining the same information for discontinued products and completed projects for the past five to 10 years, depending on the products or projects involved. This should include an explanation of why the products were discontinued. If some completed projects were of a different type than those currently being worked on, an explanation is in order, including whether the insured may resume them in the future.

Minimum recommended small business insurance coverage: Building, Business Personal Property, Business Income with Extra Expense, Equipment Breakdown, Employee Dishonesty, Accounts Receivable, Computers, Goods in Transit, Valuable Papers and Records, General Liability, Employee Benefits Liability, Environmental Impairment Liability, Umbrella Liability, Hired and Non-owned Auto Liability & Workers Compensation.

Other commercial insurance policies to consider: Earthquake, Flood, Cyber Liability, Employment-related Practices Liability, Business Auto Liability and Physical Damage and Stop Gap Liability.

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