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AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a bill into law expanding who can access medical marijuana products in the state of Texas. Abbott signed House Bill 3703 on Friday. Effective immediately, specialty doctors will be able to prescribe medical marijuana to treat multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, ALS, terminal cancer, autism, and many kinds of seizure disorders. Past state law only allowed those patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy to be prescribed medical cannabis products, which in Texas may only contain low levels of the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. These products cannot be smoked. In Texas, the state's only dispensary offer medical marijuana only in oil and inhaler forms. Marijuana advocates applauded the new law. "Cannabis is effective medicine for many patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions," Heather Fazio, director with Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, said Friday. "HB 3703 represents a positive step toward a functional medical cannabis program, but sadly, it still leaves behind millions of Texas families that could benefit from legal access." The bill author, Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, is a registered nurse who ushered the state's original Texas Compassionate Use Act into law. The sponsor in the Texas Senate, emergency room doctor Donna Campbell, said during debate their legislation was just a small expansion of the state's current medical marijuana law. "I'm narrowly crafting this so it gives us some assurance and so we don't race into something with unintended consequences," said Campbell, R-New Braunfels. 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 legislation that allows farmers to grow hemp as an industrial crop and also legalizes low-THC cannabidiol, or CBD, products. That bill was signed into law June 10 and went into effect immediately. The governor has until Sunday to make a decision whether to sign or veto the bills state lawmakers passed this year. CORRECTION, 12:30 a.m., June 15, 2019: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said this bill will become law on Sept. 1, 2019. It was effectively immediately upon signing on June 14, 2019.

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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

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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. 

Marijuana will remain illegal in Texas.


  

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.




https://www.dallasnews.com/news/texas-legislature/2019/06/11/gov-greg-abbott-signs-law-legalizing-hemp-production-cbd-products-texas

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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.

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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.

For subscribers: If hemp is legal in Texas, what will come of the state’s medical cannabis program?

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.


https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas/article/Now-that-hemp-based-CBD-oil-is-legal-in-Texas-13969620.php

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