Texas Hemp: Turning Over A New Leaf
What is hemp? Many Texans are asking this question after the Legislature passed House Bill 1325 during the 2019 session. HB 1325 legalized and regulated the cultivation of the hemp plant and the manufacture of products containing hemp. Under the bill, the manufacture and sale of consumable products made from hemp, including the wildly popular cannabidiol (CBD) oil, and non-consumable hemp products such as fabric and soaps will be regulated by the state. While HB 1325 has created new opportunities for Texas farmers and retail businesses, it has also implemented strict rules and guidelines to regulate hemp consumption and cultivation.
Hemp is defined in HB 1325 as cannabis sativa with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of no more than 0.3 percent. THC is the active ingredient in cannabis which produces psychoactive effects or “high”. Though it is possible to smoke hemp, the minute level of THC does not produce an intoxicating high. The average level of THC in recreational cannabis today is closer to 10 percent and has been increasing for decades. Though hemp and cannabis can easily be mistaken for one another, any cannabis plant containing more than 0.3 percent THC is no longer considered hemp and is illegal.
Soon, Texas hemp products will enter the market as the legalization of hemp produces new opportunities for those in the agriculture business by allowing utilization of a new crop. CBD oil is not new to Texas shelves, but HB 1325 now permits and regulates the manufacture and sale of CBD oil and edible parts of the hemp plant. Prior to the bill’s passage, CBD oil containing low-THC levels was only legal with a prescription under the Texas Compassionate Use Act. With the passage of HB 1325, CBD products are allowed to have a minute level of THC and can now be made available to the public without a prescription. Though these products may contain low levels of THC, they are not enough to produce any kind of psychoactive effect.
Although HB 1325 authorized the production, manufacture, retail sale, and inspection of industrial hemp, it is still not legal to freely grow hemp in Texas without a permit. Persons looking to process and manufacture hemp must first obtain a license with respect to industrial or consumable purposes. Before these licenses are issued, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) must first submit a plan to the USDA and receive approval. Prior to the submission of this plan, the TDA was waiting on final rules from the USDA which were released mid-October 2019. Thus, the TDA anticipates that persons looking to produce and manufacture hemp will be able to apply for a license in March of 2020. Along with requiring licenses, hemp crops must pass a series of lab tests and regulations before they can be used in the manufacture of hemp products. While Texas has made the cultivation of hemp a highly regulated process, possession of hemp is legal and unregulated.
The signing of HB 1325 into law in July 2019 has opened new doors for Texas agriculture; we have turned over a new leaf with the legalization of hemp and its story is just beginning.
 Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) 2003-2013, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (December 2015), available at https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/
 HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE CHAPTER 487. TEXAS COMPASSIONATE-USE ACT, statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/HS/htm/HS.487.htm.
 Hemp Regulations, Texas Department of Agriculture (last updated December 2019), https://www.texasagriculture.gov/RegulatoryPrograms/Hemp.aspx