2019 was a big year for cannabis in Texas. The state finally made it possible for farmers to cultivate hemp, and expanded its medical CBD program. Even so, Texas’ cannabis laws are much more restrictive than those in most other states.  Read on to find out everything you need to know about legal CBD oil in Texas. 

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Texas Legalizes Hemp-Derived CBD Oil

The passage of the 2018 federal Farm Bill made cultivating industrial hemp nationally legal for the first time since the 1930’s. This was seen as a huge win for the struggling agricultural industry. Hemp’s versatility gives farmers a unique way to diversify their operations.  But the cannabis-resistant Lone Star state didn’t opt in right away. It wasn’t until the 2019 passage of House Bill 1325 that Texan farmers were given a legal route to hemp production. In fact, prior to the bill’s approval, Texas law still classified hemp as marijuana, the psychoactive variety of cannabis.  Both hemp and marijuana come from the Cannabis sativa L. plant. Hemp is classified as a cannabis plant containing no more than 0.3% THC. Any cannabis plant or product containing more than 0.3% THC is considered marijuana, which remains illegal in Texas.  Hemp may contain almost no THC, but it’s an abundant source of CBD. This is good news for two reasons:

  1. Texans don’t have to worry about being arrested for buying CBD oil. Though technically illegal, CBD oil has been on the shelves of Texas wellness stores for years. But consumers of CBD purchased at their own risk. If any THC was detected in the CBD oil—even if it was less than 0.3%--the product would have been considered marijuana and illegal. 
  2. Texan farmers and manufacturers can now produce the CBD oil Texans are already buying. Anti-cannabis laws have forced Texas store owners to import CBD products from other states and countries. Now Texans can support their local farmers and businesses when they buy CBD or other hemp-derived products. 

The first industrial hemp license was issued in early April 2020. This milestone marked the beginning of an exciting challenge for Texas farmers and ranchers according to Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller.  “License number #1 is just the beginning for industrial hemp in Texas,” Miller said in a statement.  “Hemp offers Texas farmers a great new opportunity, but I want them to understand that with every promise of high profit comes the reality of high risk. My job was to get this program started; It’s now up to farmers and processors to build that Texas ‘hempire.’” CBD oil can be legally purchased from most wellness stores and CBD shops in Texas. As long as the CBD is derived from a hemp plant—a cannabis plant containing less than 0.3% THC—it’s legal. 

Texas Expands its Medical Marijuana Laws

Texas has one of the most restrictive medical marijuana programs in the country. According to the state’s previous laws, the only Texans eligible for low-THC cannabis are those with intractable epilepsy.  The 2019 passage of House Bill 3703 approves a wider range of qualifying medical conditions. According to the new law, patients with one of the following diagnoses are eligible to use low THC cannabis containing no more than 0.5% THC:

  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis 
  • Spasticity 
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
  • Autism 
  • Terminal cancer
  • Incurable neurodegenerative disease 

The patient can only be certified for the use of low THC medical cannabis by a state-licensed physician specializing in the condition being treated.  To sum up Texas’ big year in cannabis: anyone in Texas can consume CBD oil containing no more than 0.3% THC. Medical cannabis patients in Texas can consume cannabis medicine containing no more than 0.5% THC. 

Both Sides are Left Unsatisfied

If you’re feeling ambivalent about that, you aren’t alone.  The new law was passed with bipartisan support, but it failed to satisfy supporters and opponents of cannabis legalization.  Medical marijuana advocates like Jax Finkel, executive director of Texas NORML, concede that the law doesn’t do enough for patients.  “HB 3703 will ensure more patients have access to medicine, which will have a positive impact on their lives,” Finkel said. “Many more patients are still being left behind, however, and will now have to wait until the next legislative session in 2021 for their next opportunity to find relief.”  On the other side of the issue, opponents to cannabis legalization worry that this law is one step short of a bridge too far.  “I come at this with a highly guarded sense of danger of the direction that this might take us to recreational use,” said State Sen. Brian Birdwell (R). “I wouldn't be comfortable going any further than this because of what I’m seeing in Colorado, Washington and Oregon and what’s happening in those states. I am highly guarded.”

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What to Look for on a CBD Product Label

Now that CBD is legal in Texas, CBD products are appearing everywhere. You can protect yourself by researching the product types before you consume them.  True CBD products should display one of the following types on their label:

  • Full spectrum-CBD. This means that along with CBD, the product is made with all of the naturally available compounds found in the hemp plant. 
  • Broad-spectrum CBD. This means that all traces of THC have been removed, but the other naturally available compounds found in the hemp plant remain.
  • CBD isolate. This means the product only contains the CBD extracted from the plant. 

Products that claim to contain CBD but do not fall under one of the categories above probably aren’t the real deal.  While there is evidence that CBD is medically beneficial, a lot more research needs to be done to understand how it works and when it is contraindicated. Talk to your doctor before incorporating cannabinoids into your health regimen.