Although Texas has a medical marijuana program, as established by the Texas Compassionate Use Act in 2015, only three “Dispensing Organizations” have been granted licenses by the Texas Department of Safety (“DPS”) to cultivate, process, and dispense low-THC cannabis (up to a 0.5 percent THC limit as of the date of this blog) in Texas to prescribed patients. See 37 Tex. Admin. Code § 12.1. Texas is a vertically integrated state, meaning that the Dispensing Organization must cultivate, process, package, and dispense the medical marijuana.
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.
The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (the “2018 Farm Bill”) established that hemp is to be treated similarly to other legal agricultural commodities and traded in standard interstate commerce as a raw material. However, the 2018 Farm Bill governs only state production programs and specifically permits states to enact more stringent regulations than those contained in the Bill. As a result, legal hemp has facilitated the emergence of a wide array of consumer products and uses. Specifically, smokable hemp has made a significant presence in the cannabis and hemp markets and continues to grow despite the increasing legality of other forms of cannabis that often include higher concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”). Below, we discuss the smokable hemp industry and the legal challenges it faces as it comes to fruition.
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.
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.
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.
If you joined us for Parts I through III of this Series, you will know that the Texas Department of State Health Services (“DSHS”) published its proposed rules to govern the Texas consumable hemp program (the “DSHS Proposed Rules”) in the Texas Register on May 8, 2020. The DSHS Proposed Rules are open for public comment for 31 days, meaning the public comment period closes on June 7, 2020. To provide comment on any of the draft rules, you can submit your comments directly to DSHS via email to [email protected]. When emailing comments, you will need to indicate “Comments on Proposed Rule 19R074 Hemp Program” in the subject line. Written comments may also be submitted to Rod Moline, Ph.D., R.S., Section Director, Mail Code 1987, Texas Department of State Health Services, P.O. Box 149347, Austin, Texas 78714-9347.
Hemp will be descheduled in Texas on April 5, 2019 by the Texas Department of Health Services. If you have been following the blog, then you know that hemp and CBD are both considered illegal substances under current Texas statutory law. However, we have some clarity and action from the Texas Department of State Health Services (“SHS”) in relation to its scheduling of controlled substances. The Department has descheduled hemp in Texas from its list of controlled substances. The Drugs and Medical Devices Division of SHS is responsible for the scheduling of controlled substances for SHS. SHS has the power to amend its scheduling of controlled substances anytime that a change in federal scheduling has occurred. Tex. Health & Safety Code § 481.034 (g) (available here).