Further Expansion of Texas’ Compassionate Use Program with H.B. 1535 in 2021

After establishing the Texas Compassionate Use Program in 2015 and augmenting it in 2019, Rep. Stephanie Klick (R) has once again initiated expanding the program with an incremental approach. With several beneficial provisions, this bill will potentially be the most effective and favorable legislation regarding medical marijuana reform in Texas. Although there are more comprehensive medical marijuana bills in other states, H.B. 1535 presents a significant opportunity for the Texas cannabis community. 

Ritter Spencer, PLLCFurther Expansion of Texas’ Compassionate Use Program with H.B. 1535 in 2021
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The Final Rule: The USDA’s Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program

On January 19, 2021, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) put forth a final rule to concretely establish a domestic hemp production program. This final rule becomes effective on March 22, 2021, and puts forth structured rules, regulations, and guidelines regarding the production of hemp nationwide. The USDA’s final rule is a provisional response to the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the 2018 Farm Bill), which permitted states and tribal nations to participate in hemp production programs and removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act’s (CSA) definition of marijuana. Until the issuance of this final ruling, the USDA had previously only released an interim final rule, which was open to public comments and suggested revisions. Below, we break down the distinguishing and notable provisions the USDA incorporated into this new framework.

Ritter Spencer, PLLCThe Final Rule: The USDA’s Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program
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Predictions For the CBD Market in 2021

After an unprecedented year politically, socially, and economically, cannabidiol (“CBD”) continues to significantly impact the United States’ retail markets and even the health sector. This highly sought after cannabinoid is becoming increasingly common in various forms, including tinctures, topical applications, oils, capsules, and more. But what is next for CBD in 2021? Below we explain our predictions regarding CBD’s influence in the coming year. 

Ritter Spencer, PLLCPredictions For the CBD Market in 2021
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The Smokable Hemp Ban in Texas is Enjoined Until 2021

In June of 2019, the state of Texas passed HB 1325, which, in part, authorizes and directs the Texas Department of State Health Services (“DSHS”) to enact rules regarding the processing and manufacturing of smokable hemp products. See Tex. Health & Safety Code § 443.204(4). In August of 2020, DSHS banned the processing, manufacturing, distribution, and retail sale of smokable hemp products throughout the state of Texas. See Tex. Admin. Code § 300.104. With its excessive regulations, DSHS essentially stifled the smokable hemp market in Texas, forcing existing companies, such as Crown Distributing LLC (“Crown”), to move their businesses out of state.

Ritter Spencer, PLLCThe Smokable Hemp Ban in Texas is Enjoined Until 2021
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Ritter Spencer Files Lawsuit Challenging Smokable Hemp Bans in Texas

Yesterday, our office filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of State Health Services (“DSHS”) on behalf of our client, Crown Distributing LLC (“Crown”), challenging the smokable hemp bans in Texas. A copy of our filed Petition can be accessed here.

Ritter Spencer, PLLCRitter Spencer Files Lawsuit Challenging Smokable Hemp Bans in Texas
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Financial Due Diligence for Hemp-Related Businesses: Banking Update

In June of 2020, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) issued updated guidance regarding the Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (“BSA/AML”) regulations for hemp-related business consumers. Financial institutions must do their due diligence for customers, but especially for hemp-related businesses, as the legalities and recommended practices are continually changing. Additionally, the National Credit Union Administration (“NCUA”) recently put forth further guidance for credit unions serving hemp-related businesses. As the hemp industry continues to progress, the banking industry is actively organizing their expectations and guidelines to keep up and simplify hemp-related interactions. Below, we summarize each of these resources to give you the straightforward essentials. 

Ritter Spencer, PLLCFinancial Due Diligence for Hemp-Related Businesses: Banking Update
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What Are the Next Big Cannabinoids?

The booming cannabidiol (CBD) industry is expanding at a rapid rate and shows no signs of slowing down. The legal cannabis industry also continues to make new strides, as cannabis advocates, reform groups, lobbyists, and lawyers remain active in legislative efforts. As time progresses, more states are adapting and adjusting their respective policies. Cannabis and hemp products, including those which contain hemp-derived CBD, are becoming less taboo and these products are now more legally accessible than ever before. 

Ritter Spencer, PLLCWhat Are the Next Big Cannabinoids?
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DSHS Final Rules

The Texas Department of State Health Services (“DSHS”) adopted and published its final rules governing the Texas consumable hemp program (the “DSHS Final Rules”) to the Texas Register. The DSHS Final Rules become effective on August 2, 2020. Any potential changes to the statute governing our hemp program will not occur until the Texas Legislature reconvenes in January of 2021.  

To the detriment of many in the Texas hemp industry, the DSHS Final Rules only slightly diverge from the DSHS Proposed Rules. Our prior blog series on the DSHS Proposed Rules provided an in-depth analysis of the proposed DSHS rules. This blog focuses on the changes made by DSHS in the adopted Final Rules. 

Ritter Spencer, PLLCDSHS Final Rules
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Marijuana Enforcement: By The Numbers

Over the past decade, a growing number of states have enacted marijuana legalization laws or have moved toward discretionary or non-enforcement policies for marijuana offenses, resulting in an overall decrease in arrests related to the substance. But how do the numbers differ from area to area or from race to race? Earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties Union (the “ACLU”) detailed a research report entitled A Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform to examine racial disparities at a national, state, and county level regarding marijuana enforcement. Below, we take a closer look at the report and provide a detailed overview to further explore marijuana culture in the United States. 

Ritter Spencer, PLLCMarijuana Enforcement: By The Numbers
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Seven Problems with the DSHS Proposed Rules

Our hemp attorneys recently sat down to identify seven issues with the Texas Department of State Health Services (“DSHS”) Proposed Rules for Texas’ consumable hemp program. If you are a consumable hemp manufacturer, processor, distributor, or retailer, it is not too late to submit your comments directly to DSHS. Comments can be submitted to DSHS until June 7, 2020.

Ritter Spencer, PLLCSeven Problems with the DSHS Proposed Rules
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