As every Texas resident is aware of, marijuana is illegal to possess, use, sell or produce in the state of Texas.
However, Texas just issued the first ever medical marijuana license to “Cansortium Texas” which will allow this company to sell, grow and process medical marijuana. The marijuana will be sold to patients with a specific, rare form of epilepsy.
This development could easily lead to a rapid growth of legal medical marijuana in the state of Texas. The path to recreational marijuana has seemingly always begun with the legalization of medical marijuana, just as Texas is doing.
States like Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington and a handful of others legalized the use and selling of medical marijuana, then eventually legalized the recreational use of marijuana. It starts with one or two licenses being administered to people or companies, much like in Texas, then it grows into even more people and companies receive licenses.
Then after a number of years pass, there seems to be a pattern among some states that have legalized medicinal marijuana that the legalization of recreational marijuana is sure to follow soon after.
Colorado has been a benchmark for marijuana legalization in the United States. After legalizing medicinal marijuana in 2000, the state legalized recreational use and sale of marijuana in 2014.
Oregon and California have followed in similar footsteps to Colorado with the legalization of medicinal marijuana, followed shortly by the legalization of recreational use of marijuana.
Because Texas is now following in the footsteps of these other states by legalizing the use of medicinal marijuana, this could eventually lead to the legalization of recreational use of marijuana in the state of Texas. It may take a significant number of years for it to be legalized recreationally, but the chances of it being legalized recreationally has a higher chance now than seemingly ever before.
The eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana are Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Since they all started with medicinal use, this is why it almost seems as if Texas is going to follow in the footsteps of these states. Texas has taken the first step by legalizing it medicinally.
Texas is a state that many thought would never see marijuana be legal in any sense of the word. But times have changed, and it if history is any indicator Texas may become a marijuana-friendly state after all.
Featured illustration by Max Raign
Gov. Greg Abbott signed a new law Monday that clears up which CBD products are legal in Texas and will also allow local farmers to grow hemp as a crop.
The law, which received bipartisan support in the state Legislature, goes into effect immediately.
It will allow Texas to set up a federally approved program for farmers to grow hemp as an industrial crop, including procedures for sampling, inspection and testing. It also expands the kind of hemp products that can be legally purchased in Texas to include any hemp or hemp-derived products containing less than 0.3 percent of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants.
This includes cannabidiol, or CBD, products. While Texans have found oils, tinctures and other CBD goods on store shelves for years, those that contained even trace amounts of THC were technically illegal here. Now, as long as these products are derived from hemp, contain less than 0.3 percent THC and meet other labeling and quality standards, they are legal.
Abbott, a Republican, did not sign the hemp bill publicly nor did his office return a request for comment on the new law. Other GOP leaders applauded the bill's passage into law as long overdue.
"I am excited that we have taken one more step towards giving producers in Texas the opportunity to grow hemp," Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said in a statement. "Texas will be a leader in hemp production, and we will be submitting our plan and writing rules to follow the 2018 Farm Bill and the law recently enacted in Texas.
"This will be another tool for farmers that are looking to diversify their farming operations."
The federal government removed hemp from its list of controlled substances, a move the Lone Star State replicated in April. But unlike the 42 other states who had already opted into industrial hemp production, Texas had not, a decision farmers said was holding them back from tapping into a lucrative and popular crop.
In fact, until Abbott signed the hemp bill into law Monday, state law still defined marijuana and hemp as the same, rendering both broadly illegal in Texas. Hemp and marijuana both come from the cannabis plant family. Unlike its high-inducing cousin, hemp contains low levels of THC.
Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, called the bill's signing into law "a big step for Texans and one we can all be proud of."
"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 without fear of arrest," Fazio said in a statement.
Cannabis laws were a major issue during the 2019 legislative session that wrapped up May 27. While a bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana failed, lawmakers approved an effort to slightly expand who can access medical cannabis under the state's Compassionate Use Act. That bill is still waiting for Abbott's signature or veto.
The governor has until Sunday, June 16, to make a decision.
Hemp and hemp-derived products that have become increasingly easy to find in Texas are now legal, too, after Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill legalizing its production this week.
Not only does the bill set in motion a process for creating state regulations around the monitoring and production of the plant, it also clarifies that hemp-based products such as CBD oil are legal as long as they contain no more than 0.3 percent THC, the psychoactive ingredient that gives users a high.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. Products containing CBD — including oils, sales of which have taken off in recent years — are said to treat a wide variety of ailments, from aching muscles to anxiety.
Previously, the products had been in a legal gray area after Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill that made hemp farming and hemp-based products legal, while some states including Texas hadn’t set their own laws legalizing hemp.
Here’s what you need to know about the bill:
1) Regulations are still months away, so experts are stressing “buyer beware.”
The state’s Department of Agriculture has 90 days to submit for approval a plan to the secretary of the U.S Department of Agriculture. The regulations will likely include provisions creating a hemp grower’s license program, allowing random inspections and testing of crops by the departments of agriculture and public safety and setting requirements for packaging and labeling. Experts have said that means Texans should be careful about checking the source of any products they buy until then.
Tests of unregulated CBD oil have found they don’t always contain what those selling them claim. An NBC station in Miami tested products and found 20 out of 35 contained less than half of the amount of CBD advertised on the label. Last month, Houston police reported testing CBD products and finding illegal synthetic cannabinoids.
2) The newly legal hemp-derived CBD oil is not much different from what’s available under the state’s medical marijuana program.
As the Chronicle reported last month, the 0.3 percent CBD oil hardly differs from the marijuana-derived CBD oil offered to patients in the state’s Compassionate Use program, which contains 0.5 percent THC. The medical marijuana program in Texas, one of the most restrictive in the nation, has previously only been open to patients with intractable epilepsy. A bill passed this session would expand it to include more diseases, such as autism and terminal cancer. That’s left some marijuana advocates arguing that restrictions on the medical program should be lifted.
3) Marijuana is still illegal.
Marijuana and hemp are two versions of the same plant, but hemp generally contains less THC. Sorry, pot smokers, marijuana is still off limits. This bill only legalizes hemp.