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Texas Will Take Public Comments on Banning Intoxicating Hemp Products

For better or worse, changes seem to be coming to the hemp-derived cannabis industry in Texas.

May 17, 2024

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants state senators to look into banning or regulating delta-8 and delta-9 THC. Should you be so inclined, there might be something you can do about that. In two weeks, the senate state affairs committee will take public testimony regarding the regulation of these products.

Hemp was legalized federally in 2018 with the Farm Bill. Texas followed suit with its House Bill 1325 in 2019. The laws defined hemp as cannabis with less than 0.3% delta-9 THC. That’s the stuff in weed that gets you high. There are different forms of THC called isomers. Delta-8 is one of them and is generally less potent than delta-9. Well, the laws didn’t say anything about these other forms of THC, which gave the green light to manufacturers to make and distribute them.

Since then, it’s arguably been easier than ever to get high in Texas. Without these products, you’d be hitting up dealers on the black market or hoping to get in on the state's medical marijuana program (the Texas Compassionate Use Program) if you wanted a taste of THC. 

Now, Patrick has tasked senators with examining the sale of intoxicating hemp products like delta-8 and delta-9, recommending further regulation, and suggesting legislation that will stop retailers from selling the products to children.

Daryoush Austin Zamhariri, creator and chief editor of the Fort Worth-based Texas Cannabis Collective news site, said he anticipates a few arguments that could be made against the products during the hearing. For one, there will likely be some concerns voiced about the increase in child ER visits due to THC edible consumption. Some will also likely take issue with teenagers having easy access to these products. A national study of high school seniors found that about 11% of them had used delta-8.

“There is likely to be impaired driving concerns as well,” Zamhariri said. “I expect someone will address unregulated THC isomers and to draw comparisons to the spice/K2 situation that came about in the 2010s.”

He has no doubt that people advocating for hemp-derived cannabis products welcome at least some level of additional regulation, such as compliance testing standards, age verification and weeding out bad actors. But, they will argue against a straight-up ban of the products. “Anyone in the industry who isn't concerned with those issues (child safety and impaired driving) is a red flag,” he said. “But a total ban is not the answer. It just sends everyone back into the black market."

Zamhariri said with the state’s long history of bad cannabis policy, he doesn’t think the legislature completely grasped the consequences of legalizing hemp with the language they used back in 2019. Things are different today though.

“That was five years ago,” Zamhariri said. “The proverbial toothpaste is not only out of the tube, it has been brushed across the entire state of Texas. The state is now in the unfortunate position of figuring out how to clean it up, and with federal rescheduling official, it places Texas squarely in the middle of a cannabis crossroad.”

The hearing will be held at 9 a.m. on May 29. Public testimony will be limited to two minutes. People can also submit written testimony. If you’re submitting written testimony, be sure to provide 20 copies to the committee clerk.



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