On Wednesday, the Texas Senate unanimously voted in favor of a bipartisan bill that would make hemp production legal in the state. The bill, HB 1325, is one of a number of cannabis-related bills introduced to this legislative session- but so far, it’s the only one picking up steam. If signed into law, HB 1325 will set up a Texas Hemp Program, and will define a regulatory framework for anyone looking to cultivate or process hemp in the state.
Texas lawmakers have been openly reluctant to support legislature that looks anything like legalization, and in fact state Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown said explicitly that this bill “is not legalized marijuana”. This sentiment is potentially what’s stopping other cannabis-related bills in their tracks.
When this legislative session began, many cannabis advocates in Texas were excited by the expanding prospects. Bills reducing the penalty for possession of marijuana under a certain amount & increasing the availability of medical marijuana were up for discussion, but now, mere weeks before the end of the legislative session, it seems as if HB 1325 may be the only one to make it through.
CBD is federally legal, and has been since the 2018 Farm Bill passed last December, but the actual growth of hemp plants and production of hemp products was still banned in the state of Texas. This bill aims at opening up a new revenue stream for Texas farmers, and from the looks of it, it could be a very lucrative stream. Hemp plants can be used for a wide variety of things- you can make clothes, industrial parts, and even a kind of concrete called ‘hempcrete’ out of hemp. On top of that, of course, is the fact that hemp is a source of CBD, whose popularity has grown staggeringly fast over the past few years. Hemp’s widespread usefulness isn’t the only thing that’ll make it appealing to farmers, thought. Hemp is an incredibly hardy plant that, oddly enough, thrives in dry, rocky soil that’s so often found in Texas. For farmers running out of options, this bill could be the thing they’ve been waiting for.
The House approved an earlier version of HB 1325 a few weeks before it made its’ way to the Senate, where a few amendments were made before the bill was approved. Now, the bill will need to make its way back to the House so they can approve the Senate’s amendments, at which point the final version of the bill would make its way to the Governor’s desk for final signature, or veto. However, it’s unlikely that the Governor would veto a bill that was a unanimous ‘yes’ in both the House and Senate.
Nothing is set in stone yet, but it seems as if, in one month, HB 1325 will be law. It remains to be seen if any other bills will join the ranks of law, and until then, it’s hard to predict just how much the hemp scene will change for Texas.
Any step forward is a good step. Let’s keep progressing.