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And just like that, everything in Texas regarding CBD oil changed.
With the stroke of his pen on June 10, 2019, Governor Greg Abbot changed the legal landscape of hemp in Texas when he signed House Bill 1325. This bill, with strong bipartisan support, finally opened the door for farmers in Texas to grow hemp, with the Texas Department of Agriculture overseeing the process. Farmers will have to be licensed and their crops will be inspected, tested, and approved. This is only one side of the coin. The other side of the hemp coin deals with processing CBD products for human consumption, and the Texas Department of Health and Human Services will provide oversight for that process. This two-tier system is now in the process of establishing the rules and regulations for hemp production and consumption that will be submitted to federal agencies for approval.
The 2018 Farm Bill made industrial hemp production, and thereby hemp-derived CBD oil products, legal. It also removed industrial hemp, with a THC level of less than .3% and the inability to make someone high, from the list of controlled substances. But these actions were solely on the federal level. States would take more time to get in line with these already established federal guidelines. In fact, it wasn’t until March that Texas finally took industrial hemp from the state’s list of controlled substance, where it has been listed alongside heroin and fentanyl since 1946.
That removal paved the way for the powerful lobbying that happened behind the scenes, and on both sides of the political aisle, to help lawmakers see the value of industrial hemp. After the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, 42 other states allowed farmers to begin planting and producing industrial hemp according to each state’s regulations established by the state’s Department of Agriculture.
But not Texas farmers.
Even though industrial hemp and the lucrative CBD market is expected to surpass $20 billion by 2022, Texas farmers were prevented from tapping into the CBD market by state laws that denied them the opportunity to diversify their farming businesses into industrial hemp. The law that the governor signed on June 10 removed those restrictions, and finally brought Texas into line with federal laws and statutes regarding industrial hemp.
Marijuana, in any amount, is still illegal in Texas. CBD is only legal if it falls below the federal threshold of .3% THC, the element in marijuana that makes a user high. Because marijuana and hemp look and smell similar, testing is required to confirm that the hemp in CBD is below that limit, and therefore, legal. Once the 2018 Farm Bill passed, stores selling CBD oil and CBD products started popping up all over. Many people erroneously assumed that since industrial hemp and CBD oil were legal on the federal level, then they would automatically be legal on the state level, as well. Unfortunately, some business owners learned the hard way that this was not true when their stores were raided by local police enforcing state laws against products containing hemp as hemp was still listed on the controlled substance list at the time.
Now that Texas state law is in line with federal law as it relates to industrial hemp, those same business owners are struggling to recoup their losses from these raids. Some of their cases are considered ongoing, so their merchandise and equipment cannot be returned. Other business owners cannot just reorder inventory like before because now it will have to be tested to comply with the requirements in the law.
So even though Texas has come a long way on the road to make hemp derived CBD oil and CBD products safe, legal, and available to the average consumer, it’s also a process and takes time to make such a sweeping change. But we’re on the right path. The bottom line is that in Texas today, farmers have the chance to grow industrial hemp, and hemp-derived CBD oil and other products are fully legal. And that is a good thing.
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