All posts by Heather Fazio

Texas Hemp Update: Regulations Adopted – License Applications Expected by March 16

At the end of 2018, hemp was legalized nationwide and in June 2019, state lawmakers instituted the Texas Hemp Program. Since then, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA)​ and Department of State Health Services (DSHS)​ have worked to establish the regulatory infrastructure for this program, including business licensing, testing standards, and rules relating to both industrial and consumable hemp products.

Here’s the latest…

BIG NEWS: ​TDA has adopted official rules​ governing the production (cultivation), processing, handling, sampling, testing, and disposal of hemp, which is defined as cannabis with less than .3% THC. According to an article published by the Austin-American Statesman, “The Texas Department of Agriculture has said it expects to start accepting online applications for hemp licenses on March 16.“​ 

TDA also published a list of certified hemp seed varieties​. Here’s the application​ for getting additional varieties approved.

BIG PROBLEM: DSHS is responsible for licensing the manufacturing, processing, and distribution of hemp products. Draft rules published by DSHS still include a provisions that would ban the in-state sale of consumable hemp products intended for smoking or vaping

Read more about this overreach of authority and take action​ to bring the proposed rules in line with state law, which does NOT prohibit the retail sale of these legal products.

UPDATE FROM THE USDA: Federal law requires labs testing hemp be DEA-registered. Since there are not enough DEA-registered labs across the country, the USDA has decided to not enforce this requirement​ for the duration of this crop year. Texas labs testing hemp will need to be registered with TDA. 

Additionally, the USDA has identified six methods of disposal​ for “hot” crops that have levels of THC higher than .3%.

Texas Regulators Seek to Ban Sales of Legal CBD Vape Products and Hemp Flower!

Take Action: Ask regulators to reconsider the proposed regulations.

Last year, both the state and federal governments legalized low-THC (.3%) cannabis, defining it as hemp. Consumable hemp is now completely legal to possess and use, including oils, edibles, hemp flower, and vape cartridges. These products are widely available throughout the state and have been a blessing to many Texans who can benefit from cannabis, but do not qualify to participate in the Compassionate Use Program.

In December, we reported that draft rules proposed by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) would ban in-state retail sales of consumable hemp products intended for smoking (hemp flower).

“Rule §300.004 MANUFACTURE OF SMOKABLE HEMP PRODUCT. (a) The processing, manufacturing, and retail sale of consumable hemp products for smoking is prohibited.”

State law, as instituted with the passage of HB 1325, does prohibit the in-state manufacturing of hemp products intended for smoking. However, the law does not prohibit in-state retail sales of products manufactured outside Texas, as long as those products are cultivated and manufactured in compliance with federal law.

After further analysis, the proposed rules would also ban hemp/CBD vape products! 

How was this overlooked? Because “smoking” is defined in the new law as “burning or igniting a substance and inhaling the smoke or heating a substance and inhaling the resulting vapor or aerosol.”

If adopted, these regulations would ban Texas businesses from selling hemp flower and hemp/CBD vape cartridges, cutting them out of this thriving market and pushing consumers to out-of-state retailers.

I do not believe they have the authority to do this.

DSHS is still accepting input on these proposed rules and there is time for revision before they are made final. If you are concerned about this issue, click here DSHS a quick email. Or email them directly at DSHSHempProgram@dshs.texas.gov to share your thoughtful feedback.

NOTE: None of the rules up for consideration would ban consumers from possessing these products or from purchasing them online from other states.

A public hearing was hosted on December 17, 2019, but very few people were there to testify. Watch here:

Hemp Cultivation/Manufacturing: Licensing Update

Since June, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) has moved forward with drafting rules for the regulation and licensing of hemp cultivation and manufacturing. 

Last week, TDA’s plan for regulation was approved by the USDA last week, but the department must formally adopt their hemp rules in order for hemp production businesses to become licensed to operate. This is expected to happen in the next few weeks. “Early-mid March,” according to TDA Commissioner, Sid Miller.  More info here.

Update: USDA Approves Texas Hemp Plan!

Texas farmers are one step closer to their opportunity to grow hemp!

Yesterday afternoon, the USDA approved our state’s plan to regulate hemp. Before licenses can be issued, though, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) must adopt rules for the regulation of hemp cultivation and manufacturing. Last week, TDA hosted a hearing to accept public comment relating to their draft rules (FAQ). They’re still accepting public input via email: RuleComments@TexasAgriculture.gov.

Separately, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is charged with regulating retail sales of consumable hemp products. Proposed rules have been published and are mostly good, aiming to protect consumers. However, DSHS seems to be overstepping their authority with a provision banning in-state retail sales of “smokable” hemp products. 

While the Legislature did prohibit the manufacturing of “smokable” hemp, they did not prohibit the sale of products manufactured outside of Texas. DSHS has received considerable feedback and is expected to publish a revised draft of the rules in February, giving time for more feedback before finalizing in March. Read more here and consider contacting regulators if this is important to you.

Important Note: Every part of the hemp plant (including the flower with < .3% THC) is and will remain legal to possess under all proposed rules and statutes in place. The only question is whether or not regulators are going to cut Texas businesses out of the market, pushing consumers to out-of-state retailers.

Stay tuned for more updates as they are available. If you appreciate the work we do, please consider making a donation or becoming a sustaining member!

Austin: No more arrests for small amounts of marijuana!

With unanimous approval, last night the Austin City Council approved a resolution that will put an end to arrests for low-level marijuana possession!

This resolution does the following:

  • Commit to not wasting city resources on testing THC levels for low-level marijuana offenses
  • To the extent allowable under state law, stop the APD from citing and arresting people for possession of marijuana cases they know will be rejected by the prosecutors

Click here to read public comments offered by Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy and click here to watch the video of all public comment.

Special THANKS to the resolution sponsors: Council Member Gregorio Casar, Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison, Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza, and Council Member Jimmy Flannigan!
View Austin City Council Agenda.

Texas Hemp: Public Hearing on Proposed Rules/Regulations

WACO — The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) hosted a hearing at the Texas Farm Bureau Conference Center to accept public comments on the draft hemp rules, which were published Friday, Jan. 10, 2020.

Hearing audio transcript available here.

Hemp (cannabis with < 0.3% THC) is currently legal to sell, possess, and consume in our state. Regulatory agencies are working to establish rules that create licensing requirements for cultivators, manufacturers, and retailers. If you are currently selling consumable hemp products, you will soon need a retail license. Details to be determined.

More information and Frequently Asked Questions about the Texas hemp program can be found on the TDA website here. Submit your comments and suggested amendments to the rules via email: rulecomments@texasagriculture.gov.

The Texas Hemp Program outline has been sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for approval.  This document and the proposed rules must be approved and finalized before TDA can begin granting licenses to legally grow hemp in Texas.

Commissioner Miller said at the hearing that he expected licensing to be available in early-mid March. Rules must be finalized before licensing can begin.

Related: The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is considering draft rules to regulate consumable hemp products. Most of the rules are acceptable, but they are setting outside of their statutory authority with a provision that would ban “smokable” hemp. Read more here.

Take Action Austin: Support City Council Resolution to Stop Arrests for Marijuana Possession

On Thursday, January 23rd, the Austin City Council will consider Item 59, a resolution that would limit enforcement of low-level possession of marijuana (POM). This will help countless Austin residents avoid the devastating consequences of criminal marijuana enforcement, which disproportionately impact people of color and already-struggling communities. 

Please ask your Council Member to approve this important resolution!

This resolution would do the following:

  • Commit to not wasting city resources on testing THC levels for low-level marijuana offenses
  • To the extent allowable under state law, stop the APD from citing and arresting people for POM cases they know will be rejected by the prosecutors

Special THANKS to the resolution sponsors: Council Member Gregorio Casar, Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison, Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza, and Council Member Jimmy Flannigan!
View Austin City Council Agenda.

Show up this Thursday, January 23!

The #DecrimATX resolution will be considered in the evening, so show up at City Hall at 5:30pm to register your support for the resolution!

Free parking is available in the City Hall parking garage. Upon arrival, locate a kiosk and register your support for Item 59.

Media Coverage: Texas Tribune | Austin Chronicle |KXAN | Texas Observer | KLBJ 590 (Audio) | KXAN (again)

Commissioner Sid Miller Announces Public Hearing for State Hemp Program

Hemp was legalized at the state and federal levels in 2019, bringing an end to the prohibition of broad spectrum (low-THC – .3%) cannabis!

Now, regulatory agencies are working to establish rules for implementation, including the licensing of cultivators, manufacturers, and retailers. Sid Miller, our state’s Ag. Commissioner, has announced the first formal hearing to accept public comment on his department’s draft rules, which are currently being considered for approval by the USDA.

Public comment will be accepted at the meeting and written comments can be emailed to TDAHempProgram@TexasAgriculture.gov.

Commissioner Miller’s Press Release

Sid Miller, Commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA), announced he will host a public hearing to take public comments on the Texas hemp rules. The rules were published Friday, Jan. 10, on the Texas Register. The hearing will be held on Jan. 22 at 9 a.m. at the Texas Farm Bureau Conference Center in Waco, Texas.

The Texas Hemp Program outline has been sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for approval.  This document and the proposed rules must be approved and finalized before TDA can begin granting licenses to legally grow hemp in Texas.

Proposed rules are published on the Texas Register and are available on the TDA website.

For Frequently Asked Questions about the Texas hemp rules and more information on the upcoming hemp program, visit the TDA website here.

WHEN:Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020 @ 9 a.m.
WHERETexas Farm Bureau Conference Center
7410 Fish Pond Road
Waco, Texas, 76710
WHO:Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller 
WHAT:Public hearing to take public comments on the Texas hemp rules

Related: The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is considering draft rules to regulate consumable hemp products. Most of the rules are acceptable, but they are setting outside of their statutory authority with a provision that would ban “smokable” hemp. Read more here.

HISTORIC: Thanks to you, 2019 was a great year for Texas!

Thanks to you and the millions who support cannabis law reform in our state, 2019 was a year of historic progress!

HEMP: State and federal legalization of hemp! This plant is not only valuable therapeutically, but there’s a huge market opening up for Texas farmers and entrepreneurs. Rules and regulations are still be developed, but legal hemp will soon be grown and sold in Texas!

MEDICAL CANNABIS: Expanded access to the Compassionate Use Program!
The program is still unreasonably restrictive, but as of 2019, more patients have access to medical cannabis being cultivated, processed, and sold in dispensaries right here in Texas. Patients deserve access to full spectrum cannabis and we will keep fighting!

MARIJUANA PENALTY REDUCTION:For the first time, the Texas House approved a bill to reduce penalties for low-level marijuana possession! The bill passed with bipartisan support and was backed by the governor, but didn’t get a vote in the Senate (thanks to Lt. Governor Dan Patrick). We have nearly a year to influence him and earn his support in 2021!

STATEWIDE IMPACT: Because of shifting laws and public opinion, Texas state police (DPS) and law enforcement in all metro areas are now issuing citations for marijuana possession, rather than making arrests.

ENCOURAGING NEWS: Just last week, Governor Greg Abbott pardoned two Texans who had lived many years with marijuana convictions! Now, with a clean record, these individuals may be able to further education, get a good paying job, and attain safe housing. Hopefully, they are the first of many pardoned for the-never-shoulda-been-a-crime of marijuana possession.

To make all of this possible (and thanks entirely to your support!), we worked with our allies to host training events, educational exhibits, lobby days, press conferences, and the second annual Texas Marijuana Policy Conference. We put together resource materials for lawmakers, worked with their staff, and pushed hard for votes on important bills. We’ve earned statewide media coverage and put a professional foot forward to advance our shared cause.

Let’s keep up our momentum and utilize 2020 as an opportunity to set ourselves up for success when the legislature convenes in January 2021!

Texas Hemp Update | December 17, 2019

Long awaited draft rules relating to the cultivation, manufacture, and sale of hemp and hemp products have been released!

In January, the United States legalized low-THC cannabis (.3%), defining it as hemp and authorizing interstate commerce. Texas followed suit in June. Since then, we’ve all been waiting for rules to be drafted with details about licensing, testing, and other requirements.

At long last, the USDA published their interim rules, allowing states to submit their regulatory plans for approval. In this December 2 letter to the USDA, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller did just that, setting Texas up to establish what could be the largest hemp market in the country.

Once our state plan is approved, The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) will have to go through the formal approval process for state regulations, so there is time to amend the draft rules if necessary. More information about the Texas Hemp Program can be found here.

RELATED: The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is tasked with regulating consumable hemp products. While many of their recently proposed rules are reasonable, they are attempting to prohibit in-state sales of “smokeable” hemp, something they don’t seem to have the authority to do. More here.