Delta-8 THC products are stirring up controversy around the United States. Several states have chosen to ban these products, but it appears that Texas will not be joining them.
A bill that would have made delta-8 THC illegal in the state did not pass before the end of the legislative session May 31.
The bill started out with industry support
Delta-8 THC is a cannabinoid found naturally in cannabis plants. It has a similar chemical structure to delta-9 THC, which many people recognize as the compound that can cause intoxicating effects associated with federally illegal cannabis products.
However, delta-8 THC is said to have a milder effect than delta-9 THC, and it is harvested from hemp. As a hemp-derived cannabinoid, delta-8 THC reportedly was made legal through the 2018 Farm Bill.
When HB 3948 passed out of the Texas House of Representatives, it reportedly had the support of many farmers and businesses. The bill was intended to help the state’s hemp industry by creating a licensing process for research, clarifying some language on behalf of farmers, allowing hemp to be used as animal feed and more.
The bill passed the House with 132 votes in its favor and 13 votes against it. Two representatives chose not to vote and three were absent from the vote. House sponsors included Representatives Tracy King, Ryan Guillen, Ana-Maria Ramos, Eddie Morales, Celia Israel, Penny Morales Shaw, Eddie Rodriguez and Erin Zwiener.
An amendment was added to ban Delta-8 THC
After the House passed the bill, it went on to the Texas Senate. However, the Senate decided to add an amendment to the bill that many hemp industry stakeholders reportedly felt was not in the industry’s best interests. This amendment would have made delta-8 THC and other similar compounds illegal.
Ultimately, the Senate passed the bill with the votes 30 to one. The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Senators Charles Perry and Roland Gutierrez.
Although the bill was passed by the House and the Senate, the Senate’s amendment to the bill caused it to conflict with the House version of the bill. Because of this, House author Representative Tracy King chose to go to a conference committee.
The purpose of a conference committee like this is to reconcile the differences in a piece of legislation. In this case, the purpose was to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of HB 3948.
However, the authors of the bill were not able to reach an agreement on the amendment before their deadline. The 87th Legislative Session ended on May 31, and the bill died.
Local advocates helped prevent a negative outcome
Behind the scenes, several Texas brands and organizations had spent roughly four months working together to try to prevent the bill from becoming law. These included Hometown Hero, the Texas Hemp Federation, Coats Rose Law Firm, the Texas Hemp Coalition, Delta Effex, Treetop Hemp Co., Honeyroot, Eighty Six Brand and Pinnacle Hemp.
“I apologize that we were not more public with our strategy, but because of the nature of politics, it was best that we stayed quiet about our efforts,” said Lukas Gilkey in a statement. Gilkey is the CEO of Hometown Hero, one of the businesses advocating against the Senate’s amendment to the bill.
“It turns out we needed a lot of money and key players to make this happen as there were groups fighting to make Delta-8 illegal,” Gilkey added. “One hemp advocacy group and one medical marijuana company chose to fight us head-on. Despite being a very young industry, we proved that the Delta-8 industry is capable of fighting overreaching and unnecessary cannabis regulation.”