AUSTIN, Texas — Texas lawmakers in the House have approved a bill to permit the legal sale of CBD and hemp products.
HB1325 was passed unanimously (144-0) and will now head to the Senate. However, the bill is not expected to have an uncontested path to passage there. If the bill manages to survive the Senate it is unclear if Governor Gregg Abbot will sign it into law.
If approved, HB1325 would allow farmers to cultivate hemp which could be used to extract CBD if it contains less than 0.3 percent THC. Hemp would be removed from the state’s list of controlled substances. Unlike the cannabinoid THC, CBD does not produce a psychedelic effect and has become popular for its perceived medicinal benefits.
“There’s no good reason for Texas farmers and ranchers not to have hemp as a crop option,” Gene Hall, a spokesman for the Texas Farm Bureau, said according to The Texas Tribune. “I suspect a lot of farmers will choose this option once it’s available. It’s a drought-tolerant crop and can be grown anywhere where cropping is prevalent right now.”
Another obstacle could be Lt. Governor Dan Patrick who has expressed opposition to expanding any access to cannabis. Last month, while discussing a medicinal cannabis bill, Patrick said he “strongly opposed to weakening any laws against marijuana [and] remains wary of the various medicinal use proposals that could become a vehicle for expanding access to this drug.” Patrick can block any bill from coming up for a vote in the state’s senate. It is unclear if he views CBD in a similar light.
There is some bi-partisan support for legalizing hemp and CBD in Texas. Agriculture Commissioner, Sid Miller, a Republican, sees legalized industrial hemp as a potential boon for farmers. “Allowing the Texas Department of Agriculture to create an industrial hemp program here in Texas will give Texas farmers an exciting new opportunity to thrive—and that’s something everyone should get behind,” Miller said. “It is all about Texas farmers and ranchers and seeing them prosper.”
Dozens of other states have already passed similar legislation and Congress approved the federal 2018 Farm Bill in December. However, there is a bit of confusion as to what exactly is legal and if a federal crackdown could be on the horizon for CBD. Some producers have already received warning letters from the FDA. The agency will hold a public hearing on CBD regulations on May 31.