- Is CBD Legal in Texas? Everything You Need to Know
Is CBD Legal in Texas? Everything You Need to Know
We had hoped that the 2018 Farm Bill would help clarify a few things regarding CBD. Instead, it only served to confuse matters further. The ground-breaking legislation ensured the legalization of hemp cultivation in the United States. After over 80 years of prohibition, hemp is back on the map!
Hemp received the same classification as cannabis ever since the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act. There was a brief flurry of cultivation during the 1950s. However, the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (CSA) classified hemp as a Schedule I substance. It was the same scheduling as weed. The Farm Bill removed hemp from the CSA’s Schedule I list.
Many CBD sellers assumed that it would lead to a golden age for their product. Alas, the Farm Bill didn’t explicitly legalize cannabidiol on a federal level. It is left to individual states to decide. Some, like Minnesota, chose to regulate it rather than banning it. Others, like Nebraska, try to claim the substance is prohibited despite the protestations of legal experts.
What about CBD oil? Is it legal in the Lone Star State? The answer is ‘yes,’ but only recently! Up until a few months ago, it was technically illegal to sell or buy CBD in Texas. What changed? Read on to find out.
CBD Oil in Texas Is Now Legal
For years, Texans believed they could buy CBD legally. In reality, the state did not go along with those that freely permitted the cannabinoid. Mercifully, Governor Greg Abbott alleviated the confusion by signing House Bill 1325 into law in June 2019. As well as legalizing hemp farming, the bill permits the sale and purchase of hemp-derived CBD oil.
The main caveat is that these products must contain a maximum of 0.3% THC. It is a rule that lines up with the Farm Bill. According to that piece of legislation, industrial hemp must have no more than 0.3% THC. Abbott stressed that the end of prohibition doesn’t mean the impending legalization of cannabis.
There is a BIG difference between CBD in Texas and marijuana. The former is legal today. Possession of the latter could result in a lengthy prison sentence!
Can I Buy CBD Oil in Texas Today?
Yes, you can. There is a proliferation of CBD stores in Texas. HB 1325 was a real boon to cannabidiol enterprises and online sellers. The state is a substantial national market, and the legalization of hemp will significantly help the local economy. The hemp cultivation aspect of the bill is not yet ready (more on that later).
However, HB 1325 permits existing retailers to possess, transport, or sell consumable hemp products. Only retailers licensed as currently required by law may proceed. These brands must also ensure their products are safe for consumption. This means items free from pesticides, residual solvents, and heavy metals.
Up until the implementation of HB 1325, selling or buying CBD in Texas was a risky affair. It was one of the few states that arrested and charged people for using it. A senior citizen named Lena Bartula felt the force of the law when caught with a small bottle of CBD. The Fort Worth resident was on her way to Portland, Oregon.
An agent at DFW Airport searched Lena’s bag and found something suspicious. Tests at the airport revealed that the substance was CBD oil. The 72-year old was arrested on a felony charge and spent two nights in jail. The charge was the possession of a controlled substance with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Fortunately, common sense prevailed, and a Tarrant County grand jury dismissed the case.
A Testing Matter
HB 1325 ensures the necessity of testing to ensure that merchants aren’t selling illegal cannabis oil. It is an expensive process. Texan crime labs estimated that machines to accurately test THC levels cost $500,000 each! Equipment that measures to 1% THC costs $75,000 per machine.
As things stand, state labs are already inundated with marijuana samples. The added need to test hemp and CBD in Texas will cost the state a fortune. Laboratories require more employees and funding to get by. Moreover, HB 1325 does not include provisions for funding.
At present, police field tests are not designed to determine the difference between cannabis and CBD oil. As a result, some CBD users in Texas could suffer the same fate as Lena Bartula. There is a possibility that you spend time in a holding cell while law enforcement tests your sample.
It is essential to only deal with reputable CBD brands in Texas and nationwide. Don’t buy the compound from any company that can’t show third-party lab reports. Recently, an NBC station in Miami, Florida, tested 35 cannabidiol products. It found that 20 of them contained less than 50% of the CBD advertised on the label.
At least HB 1325 takes the pressure off CBD oil users in Texas. Before the bill, cases such as that of Lena Bartula were not uncommon. At that time, possession of CBD with any trace of THC was a felony offense. The minimum jail term was 180 days. As Lena discovered, the maximum was two decades.
Industrial Hemp in Texas
Chances are, the CBD you buy in a local store comes from locally sourced hemp. At least, that should be the case. Unfortunately, it is taking the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) a long time to get moving. Despite the passing of HB 1325 into law, hemp is still not legal to cultivate in Texas. The bill is supposed to authorize the production, manufacture, retail sales, and inspection of hemp crops and products.
However, it remains illegal to grow until the TDA submits a state hemp plan to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The TDA’s policy must receive approval, and then we must wait for administrative rules to take effect. The USDA released its interim final rules on hemp in October 2019. The TDA submitted its state hemp plan on December 2, 2019. Eleven days later, administrative rules were published but not adopted. According to the TDA, the hemp growing application process will begin in early 2020. It is not yet in place at the time of writing.
Meanwhile, a trucker named Aneudy Gonzalez spent one month in prison. His ‘crime’ was hauling 3,350 pounds of marijuana in late 2019. A federal lab tested his cargo and found that it was hemp! What’s worse is that Gonzalez showed a state trooper a lab report proving that the shipment was hemp. Texas law says that the state policy is NOT to interfere with hemp.
Thankfully, the driver was released from prison in January 2020. However, the mistake meant he had to spend Christmas in jail, away from his wife and children. Will this type of blunder continue to occur when hemp farmers begin growing the crop en-masse?
Is Marijuana Legal in Texas?
Since CBD in Texas is only recently legal, it isn’t surprising to learn that the state is generally anti-cannabis. There is technically a medical marijuana program in Texas. In reality, however, it is about as restrictive as it gets. Texas has always shown a firm hand when dealing with cannabis. Before 1973, its marijuana laws were the harshest in the country. Possession of any amount was a felony offense. It carried a potential jail term ranging from two years to life!
In June 1973, House Bill 447 significantly reduced cannabis penalties. In 2007, House Bill 2391 permitted police to ‘cite and release’ suspects of misdemeanor crimes. One of the offenses involved was the possession of up to four ounces of marijuana. However, many law enforcement agencies said they would continue to arrest for minor weed offenses.
A 2015 proposal to legalize recreational cannabis in Texas didn’t get far on the House floor. However, Governor Abbott signed Senate Bill 339 into law in June of that year. The Texas Compassionate Use Act allows the use of low-THC marijuana oil to treat epilepsy. The oil in question must contain a maximum of 0.5% THC and a minimum of 10% CBD.
In June 2019, Governor Abbott signed House Bill 3703 into law. It increased the number of qualifying conditions eligible for the Texan MMJ program. The bill added autism, terminal cancer, ALS, and several other illnesses. It did not change the CBD or THC thresholds, however.
HB 1325 is Good News for Low-Level Offenders
House Bill 1325 had an unintended positive effect for those charged with minor cannabis crimes. The bill changed the legal definition of marijuana from weed in general to cannabis containing more than 0.3% THC. As a result, a considerable amount of charges were dropped due to a lack of THC testing equipment!
Prosecutors in counties such as Travis and Harris announced the dismissal of hundreds of cases. They also stated that there was a temporary halt to the pursuit of new charges. In July 2019, the Department of Public Safety received a directive. It said that misdemeanor-level offenders must be cited and released rather than being arrested and held. Please note that cannabis-related offenses are still enforced.
In some counties, offenders now receive the offer of an alternative sentence. For example, they can choose a diversion program instead of prison. Such a process involves attending drug classes, taking drug tests, and reporting to a probation officer. If they keep their record clean, they often have the opportunity to dismiss the charge.
HB 1325 will hopefully end the ridiculous situation regarding CBD oil in Texas. Less than a year ago, it was entirely possible to spend time in prison for possession of a non-intoxicating substance. We even heard reports of police raids on cannabidiol sellers! In a tragi-comic scenario, we had law enforcement treat ‘mom and pop’ stores as drug kingpins. What House Bill 1325 does is spell out that CBD with a THC level of 0.3% or less is legal in Texas.
Final Thoughts on CBD in Texas
These days, it is legal to purchase CBD oil in Texas without fear of arrest. At least, that is the case in a legal sense. One wonders when law enforcement will begin using its resources where they are genuinely necessary. In the meantime, make your CBD purchase from a reputable brand that offers third-party testing. Otherwise, you run the risk of accidentally breaking the law.
What House Bill 1325 also does is render the MMJ program almost null and void. Why go through a lengthy process to get 0.5% THC oil when you can walk into a shop and get 0.3% THC oil? Like the general rules about CBD in Texas, it doesn’t make much sense. Perhaps HB 1325 will persuade Texan lawmakers to lift the restrictions on the medical marijuana program. With a Republican-backed Senate, we wouldn’t count on it.
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