They say that everything is bigger in Texas. This is undoubtedly the case when it comes to cannabis and hemp law confusion. At the time of writing, Texan lawmakers have legalized some forms of the marijuana plant but not others.
We can tell you that cannabis and THC have been illegal since 1931. The state is taking steps towards creating an MMJ program, but the process will take time to implement.
It is a different story when it comes to CBD, but it is only a recent development. In this article, we attempt to strip away legal complexities and provide you with an up to date assessment of CBD oil legality in Texas.
What Are Texas’ Marijuana Laws?
Before we delve into the CBD complications, we’ll provide a brief overview of Texas’ stance on cannabis. It remains illegal for recreational use. In 2015, a Tea Party-backed conservative, David Simpson, surprised many by introducing a bill (HB 2165) to legalize weed in Texas fully.
He made a religious case for his bill by saying: “I don’t believe that when God made marijuana, he made a mistake the government needs to fix.” Alas, HB 2165 didn’t receive enough support to make it out of the House.
At present, possession of a small amount of marijuana could result in a 180-day prison sentence.
Texas Allows Limited Medical Use
In 2015, Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 339, also called the Texas Compassionate Use Act. It is so limited that it is not classified as a real MMJ program. It only permits the use of low THC cannabis for individuals with intractable epilepsy, and a handful of other conditions. The program has expanded to include other conditions such as:
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
As per Texas state legislature, “low-THC cannabis” is defined as:
“…any part of [the Cannabis sativa L. plant] or any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, preparation, resin, or oil of that plant that contains:
- Not more than 0.5 percent by weight of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); and
- Not less than 10 percent by weight of cannabidiol (CBD).”
SB 339 effectively only allows for CBD oil usage. The 2018 Farm Bill allows the cultivation of industrial hemp with a maximum of 0.3% THC. MMJ patients in Texas can only use products with 0.5% THC. The difference is hardly worth the extra effort. Also, doctors that recommend the oil are technically breaking federal law.
Texas’ Hemp Legislation is Causing Problems for Law Enforcement
For years, residents of Texas were confused over whether CBD oil was legal in the state. The Farm Bill legalized hemp growing but not cannabinoids such as CBD. In June 2019, Governor Abbott alleviated the confusion by signing HB 1325 into law. The bill legalized hemp farming, and also the sale and purchase of CBD oil derived from hemp. All CBD products must contain a maximum of 0.3% THC.
At the time, Abbott said HB 1325 didn’t mean cannabis would soon become legal. However, it may have unintentionally decriminalized the plant. Law enforcement has no reliable means of distinguishing between marijuana and hemp.
The bill ensures that testing is necessary to guarantee legal CBD oil. However, the requisite equipment is costly, and state labs have a huge backlog. Police officers don’t have the training to tell the difference between hemp and weed. Therefore, we have heard of many cases of wrongful arrests.
On the plus side, the state has also dropped or delayed hundreds of marijuana possession-related criminal offenses in Texas.
Is It Legal to Use CBD Products in Texas?
Thanks to HB 1325, the answer is yes if it contains 0.3% THC at the most and comes from hemp. The bill was an essential means of protecting CBD sellers and consumers in Texas.
In April 2018, the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) considered the possible outlawing of CBD products from online and in-store shelves. Fortunately, the DSHS decided to put a hold on its efforts “to strip [CBD-infused products] from Texas retail stores.”
As it happens, attorneys in the state claim the Texas Department of Public Safety, not the DSHS, is responsible for “issues related to cannabis and cannabis-related products.” This fact angered countless CBD sellers in Texas. Their livelihoods were threatened by an agency that didn’t have the authority to act.
In a strictly legal sense, HB 1325 didn’t expressly say that CBD oil was allowed in Texas. Instead, it relates to hemp products that contain a minimal level of THC. Up until the new law, Texas was one of the few states that charged people for the sale or possession of CBD.
In 2019, 71-year old Lena Bartula was arrested for possession of CBD at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The unfortunate artist spent a couple of nights in jail and faced a possible 20-year prison sentence. Thankfully, she was freed without charge.
What About Industrial Hemp in Texas?
If you purchase CBD from physical stores in most states, it likely comes from locally sourced hemp. It is not yet the case in Texas, but the situation is about to change. HB 1325 legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp in the state. As part of the 2018 Farm Bill, each state must submit a pilot program to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for approval.
The Texas Department of Agriculture was finally satisfied with the State Hemp Plan and submitted it to the USDA in December 2019. The USDA approved it on January 27, 2020. On March 16, the TDA officially announced that hemp licensing was open. Agriculture producers interested in growing the crop were encouraged to apply for a producer license.
Farmers are now in the process of producing their first harvests under the new rules.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil in Texas
Texas remains a state that has not acknowledged the possible therapeutic potential of cannabis. At present, the state only allows qualifying patients access to low-THC oil, capped at 0.5%. Also, there are only a handful of dispensaries that are eligible to sell the low-THC/high-CBD oil as defined by the Texas Compassionate Use Act.
To qualify, you must:
- Be a resident of Texas.
- Have a qualifying condition.
- Have not responded to a minimum of two FDA-approved medications for these conditions.
- Receive approval from two separate doctors.
Fortunately, HB 1325 now permits residents to access hemp-derived CBD products with a maximum THC content of 0.3%. As a result, there is little point in trying to get medical CBD oil in Texas.
Thanks to HB 1325, countless Texans are now able to purchase CBD products with less than 0.3% THC. There are hundreds of stores throughout the state, but you can also order the best CBD oil online.
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