There is an update to this article, which may be found here.

Cannabidiol products – better known as CBD – are fairly new to Texas. They usually come in the form of oils, drinks or snacks containing the non-psychoactive chemical compound found in cannabis, THC. Unlike THC, which is famously known as the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant and produces the typical “marijuana high,” CBD is a 100% non-psychoactive cannabinoid. It has gained popularity in recent years due to its therapeutic benefits and currently appears in many forms, the most common of which appear to be oils.

However, a question that is vexing many at the moment is, is CBD legal Texas?

On Wednesday, May 15, State lawmakers approved a bill to legalize industrial hemp production and clear up confusion about what CBD products can be sold in Texas.  The Senate on Wednesday voted unanimously in favor of House Bill 1325. Now, House lawmakers must decide whether they agree with the Senate’s amendments to the bill. If the House agrees, or the two chambers identify negotiators to hash (no-pun intended) out the differences and sign off on their deal, the bill would head to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for his signature or veto.

Until recently all forms of CBD were illegal in the United States, but in 2014, federal legislation was passed (known as the Farm Bill of 2014) which allowed for the cultivation of industrial hemp (hemp that contains less than 0.3% THC by weight).

Because CBD contains essentially no THC by weight, this has led most people, including CBD vendors, to believe the CBD is legal in the state of Texas. However, that is not the case. At the moment, there are no current laws on the books that allow for the sell, distribute, and/or possess CBD, and in Texas, the law still defines marijuana and hemp as the same thing.

Until this week, the closest Texas has come was in 2015 when Texas passed the Compassionate Use Act. The Compassionate Use Act is codified at Texas Occupations Code Sec. 169.001, and defines “Low-THC Cannabis” as the plant Cannabis sativa L., and any part of that plant or any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, preparation, resin, or oil of that plant that contains:

  1. Not more than 0.5 percent by weight of tetrahydrocannabinols; and
  2. Not less than 10 percent by weight of cannabidiol.

In addition, the Compassionate Use Act is statutorily limited to patients in Texas with intractable epilepsy who have a prescription from their physician. Currently, there are only three organizations in the state with a license to dispense under the Act.

More recently, in April 2018, the Department of State Health Services DHSH) considered the possibility of outlawing of CBD oil and other CBD-infused products from online and in-store shelves.  However, this did not come to fruition, as the DHSH decided to put a hold on its efforts to strip CBD-infused products from Texas retail stores and reconsider the issue once state lawmakers “have a chance to weigh in during next year’s legislative session.

In short, what all that means is that in Texas, if you possess CBD oil with any trace of THC, you could be charged with a felony for possession of a controlled substance which, depending on the weight in grams, can carry a range of punishment from 180 days in a state jail facility up to 20 years in prison.

However, under House Bill 1325, a federally approved program would be created for Texas farmers to grow hemp as a crop, including procedures for sampling, inspection, and testing. It also would expand the kind of hemp products that can be legally purchased in Texas to include any hemp or hemp-derived products containing less than 0.3 percent of THC.  CBD products would also be legal if the bill becomes law, as long as they are derived from hemp and contain low levels of THC.

During the debate, Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, said passing this bill would be a boon to farmers, who want to cash in on the drought-resistant crop: “When Texas does something and does it right, we usually become the market leaders.”

That is all we know for now.  Check back here for updates!

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