Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law on June 10 that legalizes hemp production and cultivation across the state. Texas’ move to legalize hemp is one of the many results of the 2018 Farm Bill, which authorized domestic hemp production.
The U.S. currently relies heavily on imported hemp—the plant is now widely seen as a growth opportunity for American farmers. In 2016, the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) found U.S. retail sales of hemp products to be worth nearly $700 million.
Texas farmers, hemp producers and manufacturers will now have a legal avenue to grow and sell their product—the source of hemp fiber, CBD, and more.
The new process, which will be administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture, will include state licensure for hemp producers, transportation guidelines and sampling, inspection, and testing procedures to ensure all hemp products contain no more than .3 percent THC.
The bill passed easily through the notoriously conservative Texas legislature. Governor Abbott’s office did not respond to a request for comment regarding the Governor’s support for the new law.
Still, Texas’ political environment remains hostile to THC. When calling for hemp legalization last year, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said:
“Let’s be clear: This is not the backdoor to legalizing marijuana. Hate to break it to the potheads, but marijuana is still illegal in Texas and under federal law. Ending the ban on hemp won’t change that. This is about giving farmers another opportunity to thrive.”
Under the new law, Texas law enforcement officers may “inspect and collect a reasonably sized sample” of industrial hemp material during transport to determine the THC concentration of the material.
The law further prohibits people charged with a felony relating to a controlled substance within the past decade from receiving a state license to grow hemp. The production of hemp for smoking is also disallowed.