Texas has long been known as an intensely anti-cannabis state. In fact, back in the 1960s and 1970s there were nightmare stories of people receiving long prison sentences for possessing even small amounts of marijuana. Times have changed quite a bit since then (with still a long way to go in the minds of cannabis enthusiasts).
Hemp is legal in the state of Texas and marijuana remains illegal. How can that be, you ask? Aren’t hemp and cannabis one and the same? Yes, but not really. Hemp and cannabis come from plants in the Cannabaceae family. There are three main plants in that family: cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, and cannabis ruderalis. All cannabis plants contain cannabinoids, which are active compounds found in the plant. There are actually about 113 identified cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, with the two most prominent being Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC or delta9-THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).
What is THC and why is it so maligned in history?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychotropic component in cannabis that creates the famous high associated with marijuana. It is almost 100% responsible for the century long prohibition of cannabis in the United States.
THC, at its core, is a substance that alters brain function, resulting in changes in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, or behavior. It is currently listed as a Schedule 1 Class drug at the federal level. The public stance on cannabis containing THC has softened in recent times and in some states, it is accepted for medicinal or even recreational use.
Most cannabinoids found in cannabis, almost all outside delta9-THC actually, are non-psychotropic in nature and do not cause any psychoactive effects on the body. Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most dominant cannabinoid (behind THC). However, because they were all traditionally associated with the same plant as THC, they were all subjected to the same banishment.
How cannabis is both marijuana and hemp
Cannabis has been used for centuries as an industrial source for fiber. It was quite possibly one of the first crops cultivated by humans. Its use as a fiber for clothing, textiles, and other similar purposes depended on its dense nature. Through selective cultivation, cannabis essentially developed two primary strains or variations of the same plant.
One variation contained higher concentrations of THC. This was culturally called marijuana and was intoxicating. Another had significantly lower concentrations of THC and higher levels of CBD. This second variation was called hemp and is used for textiles and industry. Through the 1900s, any cannabis consumption was considered evil, whether it was the high-THC variety or the high-CBD hemp variety. No distinction was made.
The Agriculture Bill of 2018 (also known as the 2018 Farm Bill) finally created a legal definition and distinction by removing hemp from the Schedule 1 drug list, making it a new legal commodity for cultivation, sale, and use. Further, it finally assigned a legal definition to hemp; it was defined as cannabis that contains less than 0.3% delta9-THC by dry weight. Just like that, the cannabis plant was made legal in one form and illegal in another.
Texas and the current status of hemp derived CBD
After the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp products finally had a legal definition at the federal level. Having a legal definition did not exactly legalize it everywhere, it simply defined hemp and removed it from the Schedule 1 drug list, leaving states to determine its legal status at the local level.
It took until June 2019 for Texas Governor Greg Abbott to end the confusion over hemp’s legal status by signing House Bill 1325. This bill legalized the cultivation, consumption, use, and sale of hemp and hemp-derived oil products in the State of Texas. It also clearly defined hemp in the same way the federal government did—cannabis containing less than 0.3% delta9-THC.
Today the cultivation, consumption, purchase, and use of hemp derived CBD oil is completely legal. The House Bill 1325 tasked the Texas Department of Agriculture with determining a plan forward which was recently completed. In March 2020, the Texas Department of Agriculture began accepting applications for the newly created Texas Industrial Hemp Program. While some bumps in the road are inevitable with any new program, production is eventually expected to take off like a rocket. Texas has very fertile soils and its agriculture is steeped in a rich tradition of excellence.
The House bill provides clarity in Texas while clearly defining a distinction between legal hemp derived CBD and illegal cannabis.
Testing, testing, testing
On a practical level, the only way for consumers to ensure that they are in compliance with the law is for them to have access to third party testing that ensures products have less than 0.3% THC. This is why Soul Blossom provides online public access to the third party testing results for all of our products.
The majority of our products contain no THC at all. We use only phytocannabinoids-rich, low-THC strains of cannabis. The residual THC from the plant is then completely refined out, leaving only THC-free, phytocannabinoids-rich CBD extract.
If you are going to consume CBD in Texas, it is imperative that you purchase from a reputable distributor who freely provides third party independent testing data on all products. This advice is solid for anyone using CBD products no matter where they are.
Unintended consequences in Texas
At Soul Blossom, we come from the CBD wellness side of the equation. Neither of the founders were ever high-THC cannabis users. In fact, neither of us particularly enjoy the psychotropic properties or feelings (such as paranoia) that come with THC use. So the legal status of high-THC cannabis is neither here nor there for us personally. However, we recognize there are certainly larger issues at play.
The distinction between illegal marijuana and legal hemp comes down to one factor - the amount of THC in the product. This is why it can be problematic from an enforcement perspective.
High-THC extracted oil-based products are available in areas of the country where high-THC cannabis is legal. They are completely indistinguishable from CBD extracted oil-based products in terms of look and feel. Likewise, for those who use raw THC rich flower products and high-CBD hemp flowers, they look, smell, and feel completely identical to each other. The only distinguishing factor is the amount of THC contained, which can only be determined through an expensive testing process.
As you can imagine, this has placed law enforcement at a significant disadvantage when it comes to marijuana laws. Without access to sophisticated and expensive testing, it is just not practical to prosecute low-level marijuana users. Until the testing capacity becomes more widespread to law enforcement, high-THC cannabis has been effectively decriminalized in Texas. The resentments caused within the old guard Texas establishment is palpable at times. Old conservtive anti-cannabis habits die hard.
it is completely legal to purchase, use, and sell CBD-rich, THC-free products here in Texas (and elsewhere) without fear of arrest or persecution. It’s imperative that you shop smart though and make sure that you are using products that are responsibly sourced and third party tested.