On September 1, 2021, numerous new or amended laws became effective in Texas. Our focus today is on two amended laws affecting the Texas hemp and medical cannabis industries.
Hemp Harvest Window Extended
Texas’ hemp farmers now have much needed, additional time to harvest their hemp crops after the required hemp sample collection for testing by the Texas Department of Agriculture (“TDA”). The TDA initially required that Texas hemp license holders complete their harvest within fifteen (15) days of the TDA’s sample collection. This extremely quick turnaround was overly burdensome and taxing on farmers as they had to basically complete their entire harvest in about two weeks post-sample collection.
As of September 1, 2021, Texas hemp license holders now have thirty (30) days to complete their harvest after the TDA’s mandatory sample collection. The corresponding, revised provision of the Texas Agriculture Code reads as follows:
- A license holder shall harvest the plants from a plot not later than the 30th day after the date a preharvest sample is collected under Section 122.154 unless field conditions delay harvesting or the department authorizes the license holder to delay harvesting. This subsection does not prohibit the license holder from harvesting the plants immediately after the preharvest sample is collected
Tex. Agric. Code § 122.201. Texas farmers now have an additional fifteen days to complete their harvest after the TDA collects its sample, which provides for more flexibility and time for the hemp plants to mature. Further, this revised thirty-day harvest window reduces the chances that Texas hemp license holders’ hemp plants test “hot,” meaning a lesser likelihood that their hemp plants will test above the 0.3% delta-9 THC threshold.
Medical Cannabis Accessibility and Threshold Increased
House Bill 1535 (“HB 1535”), which went into effect on September 1, 2021, expanded Texas’ medical cannabis program to qualify more patients for access to medical cannabis. Prior to the passage of HB 1535, the Texas Compassionate Use Program (“TCUP”) included a limited list of conditions that qualified for low-THC-cannabis-based treatment, such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, autism, ALS, terminal cancer, incurable neurodegenerative diseases, and veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
On September 1, 2021, HB 1535 added all forms of cancer, all forms of diagnosed PTSD, and chronic pain as medical conditions that qualify for low-THC-cannabis-based treatment under TCUP.
Additionally, HB 1535 raised the THC limit for medical cannabis from 0.5 percent (0.5%) to 1 percent (1%). Although the law doubled the allowable THC limit under TCUP, the initial drafts of HB 1535 would have increased the THC limit to 5 percent (5%), which would have been a significant increase for the benefit of qualifying patients. Nonetheless, the low-THC-cannabis threshold increase further indicates the progress being made in Texas’ medical cannabis industry.
Paul Stevenson is an associate attorney with Ritter Spencer PLLC who practices cannabis law and represents clients in all facets of the cannabis and hemp industries, including dispensaries, growers, processors, manufacturers, retailers, and more.
Blog Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only, and we are not providing legal guidance, so please consult with an attorney for specific legal advice