A bipartisan bill to establish a regulated system of commercial hemp farming, manufacturing, and retail sales in Texas has received final approval from the Legislature and is now headed to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott. The House of Representatives, which unanimously approved HB 1325 last month, voted Wednesday to concur with an amended version of the bill that was unanimously approved by the Senate last week.
In summary, HB 1325:
allows Texas farmers to grow hemp and produce hemp products in compliance with the 2018 farm bill;
empowers the Texas Department of Agriculture to develop rules, a state plan, and licensing program;
gives the Department of State Health Services authority over manufacturing and consumable products;
requires strict testing protocols and mandates regular state inspections to ensure compliance; and
establishes comprehensive labeling requirements for consumer safety.
"We applaud lawmakers for coming together in support of this commonsense hemp legislation, and we hope Gov. Abbott will sign it into law,” said Shawn Hauser, chair of the hemp practice at Vicente Sederberg LLP and a leader of the American Hemp Campaign, which supported HB 1325. “In addition to offering a lifeline to Texas farmers, it will ensure hemp products made and sold in Texas are regulated for quality and safety.
“Texas is in an excellent position to become a leader in the U.S. hemp economy,” Hauser said. “Establishing a commercial hemp farming program is going to create new opportunities for farmers, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs across the state. The market for hemp and hemp-related products is growing rapidly, and we may never see another new cash crop like this."
Hauser, a Texas native and University of Texas at Austin alumna, was lead author of the American Hemp Campaign's model hemp production plan and policy guide to the 2018 farm bill. The farm bill, which was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Trump in December, lifted the federal government's prohibition on hemp farming.
In January, the Texas House Committee on Agriculture and Livestock released an interim report recommending lawmakers enact legislation this year to legalize and regulate commercial hemp farming in Texas, stating it "could be beneficial for Texas farmers, the Texas economy, the U.S. economy, and the environment." The committee unanimously approved hemp legislation last session (HB 3587), but it was never scheduled for a vote on the House floor despite broad support from the Texas farming industry, the report noted.