Down-To-The-Wire Legislative Approval Moves Texas Hemp Bill Toward Governor

AUSTIN, Texas — A bill supporting the growth and production of commercial hemp by Texas farmers will now be making its way to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbot. May 27 marks the end of the state Legislature’s current session and with that date looming less than one week away, many are heralding their approval of HB 1325 as a very tangible victory. The move comes just one week after the bill saw unanimous approval by the Senate.

“HB 1325 is right-to-farm legislation that will allow Texas farmers the opportunity to cultivate a drought-resistant cash crop — that being hemp,” according to author of the bill, state Rep. Tracy King, D-Batesville.

King’s bipartisan bill has seen a large amount of support within the Texas agricultural community.

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“There’s no good reason for Texas farmers and ranchers not to have hemp as a crop option,” said spokesman for the Texas Farm Bureau, Gene Hall. I suspect a lot of farmers will choose this option once it’s available. It’s a drought-tolerant crop and can be grown anywhere where cropping is prevalent right now.”

If passed, the bill will allow Texas to join in the ranks of more than 40 other states which have legalized hemp production. Furthermore, HB 1325 is an attempt to:

  • allow Texas farmers to grow hemp and produce hemp products in compliance with the 2018 farm bill;
  • empower the Texas Department of Agriculture to develop rules, a state plan, and licensing program;
  • give the Department of State Health Services authority over manufacturing and consumable products;
  • require strict testing protocols and mandate regular state inspections to ensure compliance; and
  • establish comprehensive labelling requirements for consumer safety.

In a recent press release, the American Hemp Campaign — which lobbied in support of HB 1325 – put forth a statement from Shawn Hauser, a leader of the campaign and chair of the hemp practice at Vicente Sederberg LLP:

“We applaud lawmakers for coming together in support of this commonsense hemp legislation, and we hope Gov. Abbott will sign it into law.

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“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.”

Author Tracy King and supporters of the bill such as Shawn Hauser and the American Hemp Campaign remain confidently optimistic in waiting to ascertain what comes next. For now, the future of House Bill 1325 rests squarely in the hands of Gov. Abbot, but each baby step – every little victory – including its legislative approval is significant.