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New Program To Regulate Texas' Hemp Industry

18 hours ago
An industrial hemp plant
Associated Press

The Texas Department of State Health Services introduced a program to regulate the consumable hemp industry in the state.

Consumable hemp products include foods, drugs, devices or cosmetics that contain industrial hemp or hemp-derived cannabinoids, like CBD.

Hemp
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

Since Texas lawmakers in 2019 legalized some forms of the cannabis plant but not others, marijuana prosecution cases around the state have been thrown into disarray, and enforcement can vary greatly depending on where you live.

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley
Associated Press

The day after the Austin City Council approved a resolution to stop arresting or ticketing people for most low-level marijuana possession offenses, the police chief made clear he had no plans to do so.

A hemp plant inside of the Custom Botanical Dispensary in Austin. Stores selling CBD products are popping up across Texas.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

In 2017, business was slow for Sarah Kerver. She was a sales rep for a Colorado-based company trying to push hemp and CBD products in Texas. But customers were apprehensive.

Truck with 3,000 pounds of legal hemp
Texas Department of Public Safety

Last month, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper arrested a driver who the agency claimed was hauling more than a ton of marijuana through the state near Amarillo. Aneudy Gonzalez was jailed for nearly a month on federal charges, and the plant material was seized. But last week, the 39-year-old was released from jail, his case was dismissed and the cargo is expected to be returned.

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It’s been more than six months since Texas lawmakers legalized hemp and unintentionally disrupted marijuana prosecution across the state.

From Texas Standard:

The Texas Department of Agriculture this week released a proposed set of rules for growing hemp, which had been illegal until the federal government's 2018 Farm Bill cleared the way for production.

The new rules will help would-be growers understand how the crop will be regulated. And when the hemp is ready to be harvested, a Dallas company has a plan for processing it.

District attorneys throughout Texas haven’t prosecuted low-level marijuana offenses for the past few months because their forensic labs can’t tell the difference between legal hemp and marijuana.

Officials with the State of Texas, working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said it has found a solution. But at the recent Texas Marijuana Policy Conference in Austin, some prosecutors said they’re still not convinced to make possession charges a priority. 


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Earlier this summer, Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson did something unusual for an elected prosecutor. She dropped the charges in 234 cases all at once.

Shelby Knowles / The Texas Tribune

Texas’ largest law enforcement agency is moving away from arresting people for low-level marijuana offenses. It’s the latest development in the chaos that has surrounded pot prosecution after state lawmakers legalized hemp this year.

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The scientists think they’ve come up with a solution to Texas’ pot problem.

Forensic and crime lab experts are optimistic state and local officials will support a new proposal that would allow for a faster, cheaper way to test suspected marijuana under the state’s new definition of the drug.

Wild0ne via creative commons

This week, the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office dismissed about 235 misdemeanor marijuana possession cases. It was an unusual move, and a response to changes in state law earlier this month.

The Food and Drug Administration is holding its first public hearing on CBD, the cannabis extract that has quickly grown into a billion-dollar industry. Today's hearing will help officials determine how to regulate CBD products.

The compound can be extracted from marijuana or from hemp. It's promoted as a way to ease anxiety and inflammation – and it doesn't get people high because it doesn't contain THC, the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.

House Bill 1325 from state Rep. Tracy King, D-Batesville, would allow farmers in the state to legally grow industrial hemp.
Juan Figueroa/The Texas Tribune

The Texas House gave broad preliminary approval Tuesday to a bill that would allow farmers in the state to legally grow industrial hemp — a move lauded as a win for the state’s farmers.

The non-psychoactive component of marijuana is the latest craze in alternative medicine. Even Walgreens and CVS plan to sell CBD products. But there's one group that has yet to cash in on the CBD fever: Texas farmers.

A hemp plant is pollinated in Springfield, Ore., in April 2018. For Texas farmers, growing hemp will present some challenges. One is that it's delicate: Farmers who used pesticides in the past on crops like cotton will need to invest in soil remediation.
Associated Press

Kris Taylor was accepted into medical school. But instead of becoming a doctor, the Texan moved to California to pursue something he was really passionate about. Hemp.