Texas Moves Towards Removing Hemp From Controlled Substances List, But There Are Still Questions

Texas is widely known for having some of the harshest laws in the United States. One of the stereotypes of the state is that it is a Republican/right wing stronghold with little leeway for change or progress. That looks like it may be changing however as Texas is looking to remove hemp from its list of controlled substances.

State lawmakers will debate a ton of bills next week that, if passed into law, could dictate how authorities and other law enforcement will police cannabis legislation, and clear up once and for all what hemp products are now lawful, and which will stay prohibited to purchase and sell. This has the potential to make cannabis laws confusing and cloudy.

Marijuana Vs. Hemp

Marijuana and hemp are two different forms of the cannabis plant. Unlike marijuana, hemp contains low (less than 0.3%) levels of THC, the psychoactive compound that provides marijuana users a high quality. But state law still defines marijuana and hemp as the same substance and outlaws the sale and possession of both usually.

In actuality, just a few Texans can lawfully purchase cannabis products with any THC. The nation’s Compassionate Use program, established in 2015, makes it possible for patients with intractable epilepsy and two physician’s prescriptions to buy cannabis-based medication with as much as 0.5 percent of THC. Three companies have state permits to grow bud , sell and produce the low-THC medication.

For everybody else, hemp and grass goods with THC are prohibited for several years. Growing the berry plant here also stays off limits. The sole legal hemp products are such grown elsewhere that contain no THC, such as sterilized seeds added to smoothies, fiber from the plant stalks for industrial or construction jobs or oil for cooking or topical use.

Only hemp-based CBD goods without THC are lawful currently.

Edible CBD products and others advertised to have health benefits confront additional limitations. That is probably OK under law. But hemp oil with trace amounts of the psychoactive compound or claims it will heal you of stress, stomach issues or other disorders? They are restricted from the Food and Drug Administration, along with any edible CBD merchandise.

Last year, the U.S. Congress legalized hemp that contains less than 0.3% of THC. In addition, it made it easier for companies and customers to transfer hemp across state lines and for farmers to develop it like a harvest.

The Future Of Cannabis In Texas

But national lawmakers’ stamp of approval doesn’t necessarily mean anything in Texas. State lawmakers would have to amend the definition of hemp along with the present criminal penalties for buying and selling it to make it into complete alignments, Edmonds explained.

The statements must be debated Monday in the Texas House Committee on Agriculture and Livestock could decriminalize possession of hemp with greater than 0.3 percent of THC or even establish a plan that would allow Texas farmers grow the plant as a harvest, or both. Marijuana will remain illegal even when these bills become law.

But not everybody agrees berry products will remain off limits following month. Chelsie Spencer, a Dallas-based cannabis lawyer, interprets hemp’s elimination from the controlled substances list differently, and considers retailers and consumers have an argument that federally-defined hemp products will likely be legal include April 5. But she notes this debate is untested in Texas courts.

States like Texas should move towards more progressive cannabis laws as a growing number of major retailers, from Whole Foods into Neiman Marcus, sell hemp-derived beauty and wellness solutions. Pharmacy chain CVS recently announced it will promote topical hemp-based CBD goods, like lotions and sprays, even in several nations.

“There are a good deal of big players now, so that I don’t think that it’s happening everywhere,” Revah explained.

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