Hemp products are very popular in the Lone Star state – but those products are made with hemp grown outside it. Perhaps that could change relatively soon.
Texas is one of just nine remaining U.S. states yet to enact legislation supporting the cultivation of industrial hemp – and among those nine states, a number have legislation in the works.
Texas has joined that list with State Senator Charles Perry filing a bill last week that could see the crop return to Texas sooner rather than later.
As in many other U.S. states, Senate Bill 1240 considers industrial hemp to be the plant Cannabis sativa L. (and any part thereof) with a tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis . It also outlines licensing, testing and other regulatory aspects that will apply in the state.
Senator Perry has been joined by Senators Paul Bettencourt, Pat Fallon, Bob Hall, Juan Hinojosa, Jose Rodriguez and Charles Schwertner as sponsors of the bill at this point.
“Hemp products are bought and sold every day in Texas in stores like H-E-B and United,” said the Senator. “However, farmers in Texas do not get to profit off this production like farmers in 41 other states. Why should our hardworking farmers not have the same opportunity?”
The Texas Farm Bureau has gotten behind the bill and has urged the Legislature to remove barriers to its production in the state.
“It is a drought tolerant crop with many uses that can be grown anywhere in our state,” said the TFB. “Hemp should be another crop option for Texas farmers who are struggling with low commodity prices.”
If passed, the Act would take effect immediately if it receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house. If the Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, it would take effect September 1, 2019. However, it’s very early days for SB 1240 and the September date could be revised depending on how long it takes for it to work its way through.
If/when it comes into effect, a plan will need to be developed and submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for approval before proceeding. The USDA doesn’t intend announcing formal guidelines for this until September, so (legal) industrial hemp crops are unlikely to appear in Texas farmers’ fields before 2020.