There wasn’t a big public event for it, nor was there any type of ceremony when Texas Governor Greg Abbott legalized industrial hemp—as well as hemp-derived products—in June of 2019. Prior to legalization, however, San Antonio had many existing CBD stores that both confused and excited the public. This once gray area is now as clear as ever with both the Texas House and Senate overwhelmingly passing House Bill 1325, legalizing industrial hemp production.
CBD Gray Area Cleared Up
Prior to legalization, CBD products and stores existed in a gray area. Last year, the Texas Department of State Health Services issued mandatory guidelines mandating various labeling requirements for hemp and CBD products. This in turn made many existing products technically illegal, as they didn’t have the appropriate labeling as required by the mandate.
Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, praised the bill for clarifying state law.
“The Texas Legislature got at least one thing right this session when they legalized hemp. Finally, Texas farmers are no longer cut out of this lucrative agricultural market. Plus, Texans are now free to use CBD. There’s a lot to be excited about with this legislation.” —Heather Fazio
Texas Farmers Benefit From Hemp Legalization
The bill’s author, Texas House Republican Charles Perry, along with Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, cited Texas farmers as one of the main reasons for pushing legalization of hemp production. According to them, legalizing the production of hemp would give Texas farmers a level playing field with states that were already ahead in hemp production—where it was already legal.
“The hemp industry is rapidly growing and we need to ensure our farmers are able to participate. We hope this agricultural commodity will help boost rural communities now that there is a new viable crop option for our farmers.” —Charles Perry
Now, under the new law, Miller’s department of agriculture is responsible for overseeing and licensing farms that want to grow hemp. Any hemp products made for human consumption, however, will be regulated by the Texas Health and Human Services.
Hemp Legalization Confuses Prosecutors in Texas
After the House and Senate passed legalization of hemp products, prosecutors across Texas have dropped hundreds of low-level marijuana charges despite the law specifically legalizing hemp and not marijuana. Additionally, they say they won’t pursue new marijuana charges without further testing and clarification.
If the new law didn’t decriminalize marijuana and only legalized hemp products like CBD oil, why the confusion? According to prosecutors, the new law has made it difficult for law enforcement and police to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana.
Shedding Light on Hemp and Marijuana
Among other provisions, House Bill 1325 kind of changed the definition of marijuana. Prior to legalization in Texas, any part of the cannabis plant was considered marijuana—however, HB 1325 changed the definition to only certain parts of the plant that contain a high level of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant that induces the infamous high associated with marijuana.
District attorneys across Texas claim that state crime labs don’t have the resources to test various marijuana cases to make the distinction between hemp and marijuana. In fact, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety claimed it didn’t have the equipment or procedures to determine THC amounts, despite bill advocates claiming that there was.
San Antonio Hemp and CBD Industry
CBD products throughout San Antonio are derived from industrial hemp and contain less than .03% THC. With ongoing changes and advances being made in the Texas hemp industry, San Antonio farmers and business owners have a brand new economic playing field. Whether throughout the state or within the San Antonio community, CBD and hemp production is sure to welcome a bright future ahead.