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Texas House Bill to Legalize Farming of Industrial Hemp Approved

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On Wednesday, April 24, 2019, House Bill 1325 was approved, the first step in allowing Texas farmers to grow hemp as an industrial crop. It also paves the way for cannabidiol (CBD) products with low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The bill passed with a 144-0 vote and will move on toward the Texas Senate for deliberation.

Hemp and marijuana are derived from the cannabis plant family. But, as noted above, the former contains only low THC levels (THC is the compound which makes users of marijuana high). The passing of HB 1325 is seen as a win for the agricultural industry in the Lone Star State. Products which are hemp-based and do not contain THC are legal in Texas. Items such as clothing, topical products, and even twine incorporating this plant species can be sold in this state. However, the plant itself, from which these products are derived, can’t be legally grown in Texas. Subsequently, the agriculture industry suffers as a result of outsourcing by Texas businesses for their key ingredient. Recently, it was removed from the list of controlled substances by the federal government, and Texas is looking to follow suit. This latest move is seen as a continuance of that process, allowing for industrial hemp production within our own state borders. At present, hemp-based products with even the smallest amounts of THC remain illegal in Texas. This bill seeks to legalize those that fall under a percentage point of 0.3 for THC presence.

Texas House Bill to Legalize Farming of Industrial Hemp Approved

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Prior to becoming law, this bill has numerous hoops to jump through, including a Texas Senate vote and a trip to the Governor’s office for approval or rejection. Due to the fact that members of both parties are in support, this bill has a high likelihood of becoming law. In a report by the Texas Tribune, Gene Hall, a Texas Farm Bureau spokesman, was quoted as saying, “There’s no good reason for Texas farmers and ranchers not to have hemp as a crop option. 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.”

With the passing of HB 1325 in this legislative session, the possibility of a farming program is also on the horizon, delineating strategies for the proper cultivation of the plant. “HB 1325 is right-to-farm legislation that will allow Texas farmers the opportunity to cultivate a drought-resistant cash crop — that being hemp,” Representative Tracy King told House members. Due to being a close cousin of marijuana, the crop was made illegal to grow in Texas in 1970.