After an August 23 ruling, hemp that’s headed for the lungs can be legally grown and sold in Texas.
Slow Growing: Issue's been evolving since 2018
2018 — U.S. legalizes hemp at federal level with the 2018 Farm Bill.
2019 — Texas legalizes hemp, but specifically prohibits the processing and manufacture of smokable hemp.
2020 — Texas Department of State Health Services makes the call (based on its interpretation of the 2019 legislation) to restrict distribution and sales of smokable hemp, effective August 2020.
2020 — Four Texas companies challenge the ban, asking the court to declare the restrictions unconstitutional and to allow manufacture and sale of smokable hemp products.
September 2020 - August 2021 — As the lawsuit makes its way through the court of appeals, production and sales of smokable hemp are allowed throughout the state.
2021 — August 5, an appeals panel rules that Texans can legally buy smokable hemp products. However, the panel of justices uphold the ban on growing and processing hemp that’s intended for smoking or vaping. (In other words, people could buy it legally but it couldn’t be made there.)
2021 — August 23, a judge in state district court rules that the ban on production and sale of smokable hemp is unconstitutional. In effect, growing or processing smokable hemp was illegal for about two and a half weeks preceding this most recent decision.
‘Victory for the state’s hemp industry’ Calling it a “major victory for the state’s hemp industry,” Kyle Jaeger reported on the ruling for Marijuana Moment.
“Judge Lora Livingston of the 261st District Court ruled in favor of plaintiffs—a group of hemp businesses who sued the Texas Department of State Health Services over a ban on the manufacturing and selling of smokable cannabis products,” he wrote, noting that the ban on manufacturing smokable hemp will become a thing of the past once the final judgements are submitted and signed. “We’re pleased with the result” Matt Zorn, a lead attorney for the hemp companies, told Marijuana Moment. “This law never made any sense, was an unjustifiable infringement of liberty when enacted and would have seriously hurt the Texas hemp industry from farmers to consumers if allowed to move forward. After a full trial, the court saw things our way and declared the statute unconstitutional under the Texas Constitution."
In her ruling, Judge Livingston said parts of the state’s health code and agriculture code prohibiting smokable help “violate the Texas Constitution,” and called one part of the administrative code “invalid in its entirety.” She also granted a permanent order to block enforcement of those parts of the codes.
The issue might not be over, however. Zorn, the hemp companies' lawyer, told Marijuana Moment he expects the state to appeal once the judgment is finalized.