Rep. King Files Hemp Production and Regulation Bill: HB 3948

We anticipate a substitute filing by Representative King that will substantially change some of the language discussed in this blog.

On March 11, 2021, Rep. Tracy King (D) filed HB 3948 that focuses on the regulation and production of hemp and consumable hemp products in Texas. This bill provides administrative penalties, imposes and authorizes fees, and creates criminal offenses. Additionally, the bill covers higher institutions, permissible THC content, additives, synthetics, and more. Below, we’ve summarized this bill to keep you in-the-know with Texas hemp legislation. The Senate version of this bill is SB 1776. 

HB 3948: Regarding Higher Education Institutions

HB 3948 improves accessibility and permissibility surrounding hemp research, as it permits any higher institution of learning to study hemp without a fee. Additionally, the bill omits these institutions from following other established rules and regulations, as well as from crop lot permits and other associated fees. HB 3948 amends section 122.005 of the Texas Agriculture Code, stating that the Texas Department of Agriculture (“TDA”) “shall issue a license to an institution of higher education in this state that requests a license,” and that an institution of higher education conducting research involving hemp:

  1. is not required to pay a fee collected by the department under this chapter;
  2. is not required to obtain from the department a lot crop permit or other permit for each location where hemp is grown;
  3. is not required to obtain preharvest testing under Section 122.153 before harvesting plants, except as provided by Subsection (c);
  4. may use hemp seed and cultivate and handle plants grown from seed that is not certified or approved under Section 122.252

HB 3948: Regarding Harvesting For License Holders

HB 3948 extends the allotted period of time from the preharvest sample to harvest—from 20 days to 30 days—and allows for a grower to harvest the hemp even if their license has been suspended or revoked between planting and harvesting, in the “same manner as a license holder.” 

Hemp farmers with a license also are given clear definitions as to what can cause them to lose their hemp license. HB 3948 states that a hemp license holder cannot receive more than one of the same type of negligent violations in each growing season, but can receive a written warning or stiffer penalties if the TDA deems them necessary. 

HB 3948: Regarding THC Content

HB 3948 contains a provision that allows for up to 1% total THC on a dry weight basis for consumable hemp products (as long as the delta-9 THC concentration is no more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis for finished consumable hemp goods). This raise in permissible total THC content is double the previous 0.5%, which provides more flexibility for hemp farmers and producers. It’s worth noting, however, that the language in this provision significantly limits the increasingly popular Delta-8 THC and Delta-10 THC by making it illegal for consumable hemp products to be “adulterated with additional tetrahydrocannabinol or synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol.”

HB 3948: Regarding False Advertising and Fraud

Section 19 of Rep. King’s bill outlines an amendment and addition to the Texas Health and Safety Code that states that any consumable hemp product that claims to have been made in Texas must indeed have been made in Texas. If a seller or distributor falsely claims or portrays that a consumable hemp product was made in Texas, it is a legal offense under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“DTPA”), which can result in various penalties such as treble damages.

Hemp lawyer Chelsie Spencer remains active in the cannabis community and is committed to providing legal services and counsel to a range of compliant marijuana, hemp, and CBD businesses. With extensive experience in cannabis, marijuana, hemp, and CBD law, Chelsie also focuses on transactional issues in commercial law, intellectual property law, and business law. Contact Ritter Spencer Cheng or give us a call at 214.295.5070 for more information.