Texas Hemp Overview

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What Is Hemp?

Hemp refers to the cannabis plant and any of its parts, including seeds, derivatives, isomers, and extracts, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 THC concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis. The terms "hemp" and "industrial hemp" are used interchangeably, as the term " industrial hemp" is only a description of hemp with respect to its many uses. Note that hemp may be used to make products such as textiles, paper, food products, building materials, biofuels, supplements, bioplastics, and personal care items.

Some parts of the hemp plant, and their derivatives, that may be used in making products include:

  • Hemp Flower: Hemp flowers or hemp buds contain high concentrations of cannabinoids, such as CBD, especially if the flowers are obtained from female hemp plants. Hemp flowers can help with depression and anxiety treatments as they produce calming and soothing effects on users. Hemp flowers, when smoked, also produce effects on the users faster than other methods of using hemp buds. For instance, while CBD-based tinctures may take 30 - 60 minutes before their effects kick in, hemp flowers, when smoked, enter the bloodstream right away, with users beginning to experience the effects in only a few minutes
  • Hemp Seed: Hemp seeds are considered nuts and are rich sources of nutrients, such as zinc, manganese, magnesium, iron, and Vitamin E. They can be roasted, cooked, or eaten raw. Hemp seeds are rich sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, supporting healthy cholesterol levels, boosting immunity, and regulating metabolism
  • Hemp Extract: Hemp extract is typically oil extracted from stalks, flowers, or hemp plant seeds. Hemp extract contains high amounts of cannabidiol and has several health benefits. Hemp extracts may be used in alleviating joint pain, improving cardiovascular health in humans, and boosting skin health
  • Hemp Oil: Hemp oil is the oil extracted from hemp seed. It is a remedy for a plethora of conditions. Studies have shown that hemp oil can be used to treat acne, eczema, psoriasis, lichen planus, inflammation, the complications of menopause, and the symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome
  • Hemp Hearts: Hemp hearts are hemp seeds that have had their shells removed. Hemp seeds, without the shells removed, are rarely eaten due to the crunchy shells which often get stuck in the teeth. Hence, to make most hemp products, hemp seeds are deshelled. Hemp hearts are rich in proteins and healthy fats and are also helpful in maintaining a healthy heart
  • Hemp Milk: Hemp milk can be obtained from the hemp plant's seeds. It is a popular alternative to dairy milk and is rich in high-quality protein, minerals, and healthy fats. Although many people make hemp milk by blending only water and hemp seeds, commercial businesses often add salt, sweeteners, and thickeners. Hemp milk helps maintain heart health and has anti-inflammatory properties

Botanically, marijuana and hemp are cultivated from the same plant species - Cannabis sativa, which often leads many people to believe they are the same. However, marijuana and hemp are genetically distinct forms of cannabis that can be distinguished by their uses and chemical compositions, as well as the different cultivation practices employed in their production. Industrial hemp contains high amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) and low amounts of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana that makes people high. On a dry weight basis, marijuana contains 3 - 15% THC.

Is Hemp Legal in Texas?

Yes. The most recent legalization history of hemp began in 2014 with the 2014 Farm Bill (also referred to as the Agricultural Act of 2014). The Act allowed hemp cultivation in the United States for research purposes and only in states that permitted it under state law. Hence, hemp was only allowed to be cultivated by institutions of higher education and state departments of agriculture, if legal under state law where the institutions or state departments are located.

Although the 2018 Farm Bill continues the effort of the 2014 Farm Bill to generate and protect hemp research, it is a more expansive law. The 2018 Farm Bill permits hemp growing on a large scale instead of only experimental operations. It explicitly allows the interstate transport of hemp-derived products for trade purposes and other uses. There are also no prohibitions on the sale, transportation, or possession of hemp-derived goods, provided that they are manufactured in accordance with the law.

The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the list of Schedule I controlled substances maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It also authorized the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to publish rules and guidelines for the implementation of a program to provide a uniform regulatory framework for hemp production across the United States. Note that both the 2014 Farm Bill and the 2018 Farm Bill referred to hemp as cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis.

Prior to the 2018 Farm Bill, Texas had only one significant CBD law - Senate Bill 339. SB 339, passed in 2015, permitted doctors to recommend low-THC cannabis products to epileptic Texas patients. In June 2019, Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 1325 into law, legalizing industrial hemp cultivation, production, manufacture, and sale in Texas. Currently, Texas farmers must possess Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA)-approved licenses in order to cultivate hemp on their properties. Also, HB 1325 contains no statutes restricting the interstate transportation of hemp and hemp products.

What Hemp Products are Legal in Texas?

Pursuant to Chapter 443 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, all consumable hemp products are legal in Texas as long as the products contain THC levels not exceeding 0.3%. Some CBD products with up to 0.5% THC are permitted for patients registered under the state's medical program. These products include:

  • CBD oil
  • CBD gummy bears
  • Foods and drinks infused with CBD
  • Over-the-counter drugs containing CBD
  • Topical lotions and cosmetics containing CBD

Texas permits residents who are licensed and registered with the DSHS (Department of State Health Services) to cultivate hemp for food products or edibles.

Texas allows citizens to smoke hemp in the state, provided the smokable CBD products are manufactured outside of Texas. Although the state has no specific restrictions on where residents may smoke hemp, smoking hemp while driving or in public is generally frowned upon as the police may assume the consumed product is marijuana. Also, while it is unlikely that hemp products may cause impairment while driving, law enforcement may arrest persons caught with hemp who exhibit signs of drowsiness or lightheadedness.

Can A Municipality Restrict Hemp Cultivation or Processing in Texas?

Per Section 122.002 of the Texas Agricultural Code, local governments in Texas are not authorized to enact ordinances or policies preventing the cultivation, handling, transportation, or sale of hemp and hemp products within their jurisdictions. The regulatory framework for hemp cultivation and production as laid in the 2018 Farm Bill and HB 1325 authorizes the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Texas Department of State Health Services to regulate the cultivation and production of Hemp in the State of Texas.

How to Get a License to Grow or Process Hemp in Texas

In order to grow or produce hemp in Texas, you must obtain a hemp producer license from the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). The TDA also issues:

  • Handler License: A handler license is required to possess and store hemp plants on authorized premises owned or controlled by the licensee
  • Sampler License: This license permits the licensee to obtain specimens to analyze the total THC content in hemp samples to determine whether they are marijuana or hemp
  • Processor License: This license authorizes the licensee to convert hemp into marketable forms
  • Research License: The hemp research license is typically issued to an institution of higher education and authorizes the institution to produce or handle hemp for research purposes
  • Laboratory Registration: A laboratory registration authorizes a laboratory facility to test hemp for impurities
  • Lot Crop Permit: This certification is required for each planting area before cultivation may begin on the lot

To be eligible for a hemp producer license in Texas, an applicant must be aged 18 or older and not have a previous felony conviction involving a drug offense in the past 10 years. Key participants of the applicant's hemp operations must also be free of drug-related convictions in the same period. Texas defines a key participant as a sole proprietor, a general partner in a limited partnership, a partner in general partnership, or a person with executive managerial control in an entity applicant.

To apply for a hemp producer license, follow these steps:

  • Watch the TDA orientation video: The TDA requires applicants to watch the orientation video before applying for licenses
  • Visit the Texas Department of Agriculture's eApply portal to commence the application. Select the dropdown menu to choose the producer license application
  • Apply for a Lot Crop Permit (LCP): Select Lot Crop Permit Application on the eApply portal. The facility location ID number on your license and your account number will be required to apply for an LCP

Note that this hemp license is not the only document required to commence hemp cultivation in Texas. A license permits the licensee to participate in the Texas hemp industry. The licensee must also register each facility where hemp will be cultivated or produced upon obtaining a license. A permit is required for each lot of hemp planted. Upon obtaining a facility registration, an LCP authorizes the permit holder who already has a license to plant a crop of one approved variety of hemp in one discrete area, referred to as a lot.

Before completing the application, you will be required to pay the applicable fees using a credit card or electronic check. The TDA may take up to 60 days to review an application and issue a license after the submission of the application. For more information on obtaining hemp producer licenses in Texas, contact a TDA regional office or visit the Texas industrial hemp program website.

How Much Does a License to Grow or Process Hemp Cost in Texas?

A Texas hemp grower or producer license costs $100, while an additional fee of $100 per lot is required for a permit, regardless of the lot size. While applying, an applicant must also register at least one facility where operations will be conducted. The cost of registering a facility is $100 for each facility registered. If the GPS locations of registered facilities are to be modified, the cost for each registered facility is $500. Note that other fees may apply before registration is complete, and all fees paid to the Texas Department of Agriculture are nonrefundable.

The hemp producer license is renewable annually for a fee of $100. Annual renewals are not automatic and require license holders to apply.

How to Grow Hemp in Texas

To grow hemp in Texas, follow these steps:

  • Obtain a hemp producer license and a Lot Crop Permit (LCP): Without the TDA-issued hemp producer license and the lot crop permit, you cannot grow hemp in Texas
  • Know your soil: Although most people believe hemp can be grown anywhere, it produces better results in certain soil types than others. The best soil to grow hemp is loose, well-aerated loam with high fertility and abundant in organic matter. The pH level of the soil should be 6.0 - 7.5. You may purchase a soil test kit from a local test to determine the quality of your soil
  • Find high-quality hemp seeds: In deciding the strain to grow, you must first identify the purpose of growing hemp, the ideal CBD to THC ratio, and whether you intend to grow indoors or outdoors. These details will help you decide on the perfect hemp seed strain for your lot. You should also get hemp seeds from reputable and trusted sources
  • Sow the seeds: Choosing the right planting season is an important step in growing hemp. You may consider a period in April, May, or June. Generally, it is recommended that you plant your hemp seeds when all danger of frost has passed. The soil temperature should be approximately 50 degrees Fahrenheit when you plant the hemp seeds. When planting hemp seeds, you should dig shallow holes measuring between half and three-quarters of an inch deep and deposit one seed per hole with a four-inch distance between adjacent holes. In addition, you may dig a trench between half an inch and three-quarters of an inch deep and sow the seeds approximately four inches apart
  • Water the seeds: Your plants will require water to thrive while growing. If you are growing outdoors, about 20 - 30 inches of rainfall will be needed during a growth cycle. Where precipitation is lower than this, irrigation may be required. The first six weeks after planting the hemp seeds are the most important. The seedlings must be provided with sufficient amounts of water and light. After this period, you will need to water the sprouts well once every week

After the seedlings have matured into small plants, they need less individual care than before. Nevertheless, you should continue to watch them to ensure that they get sufficient sunshine, water, and heat throughout this time

  • Nutrients: The nutrients required for a healthy yield will depend on your soil test results. Essential nutrients required include potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen. You may also use pesticides and insecticides to ward off garden pests and diseases. Alternatively, you may consider organic farming processes to keep pests off your plants. In 90 - 100 days, your hemp plants should begin to produce flowers with exposed seeds
  • Harvest: The time to harvest your hemp plants depends on the type of hemp grown. If you plant hemp for CBD use, it is typically harvested around October or after about 120 days of cultivation. This is the time required for the flowers to ripen and be full of seeds. Hemp cultivated for fiber is typically ready for harvest between the time of early bloom and the seed set. When the hemp plant is ready to be harvested, you should trim its flowers using garden shears. To do this, cut the hemp plant's flowers and store them in a dry, airtight, and dark area

Per TDA rules, pesticides containing the following active ingredients may not be used in cultivating hemp in Texas:

  • Chlordane
  • Dieldrin
  • Mirex
  • Toxaphene
  • Heptachlor
  • Aldrin
  • DDD (dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene)
  • DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane)
  • Hexachlorobenzene
  • 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxypropionic acid (2,4,5-TP (Silvex))
  • 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T)
  • All mercury-based pesticides

Note that before hemp may be harvested, an official sample must be taken by a TDA-licensed handler sampler and submitted to a TDA-registered laboratory. To initiate this process, select "Transport Manifest Request (official or unofficial)" on the TDA eApply portal. Then in the request type dropdown menu, select "official sample request and sample manifest request." No more than two official sample requests may be made per lot.

After laboratory results have been obtained and the hemp THC levels are within the acceptable range, you must obtain a transport manifest to transport the hemp. A transport manifest can be obtained through the TDA eApply portal. Subsequently, a lot report for every lot crop permit issued must be submitted no later than the 30th day after the final sample is collected or no later than 180 days from the lot permit issue date, whichever is first.

Where Can You Buy Hemp Flower in Texas?

Smokable hemp flowers are legal in Texas. Although the state prohibits the production of smokable hemp flowers within its borders, it does not ban the possession or consumption of smokable hemp flowers. Businesses outside of Texas producing hemp flowers may ship their products to Texas for sale to Texans. The state places no limit on the amount of smokable hemp flower that may be possessed or consumed by residents. Hence, consumers can purchase smokable hemp flowers online or at physical stores where hemp products are sold across Texas.

Hemp vs. THC

Hemp and THC are not the same. Hemp refers to Cannabis sativa cultivars cultivated for industrial or medical use. THC, also called tetrahydrocannabinol, is a chemical compound found in both hemp and marijuana. Hemp plants contain low levels of THC, typically 0.3%.

Hemp vs. CBD

Like THC, cannabidiol or CBD is also an important chemical component in the hemp plant. Hemp plants contain high levels of CBD, which has been identified as a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants. Hence, while CBD is a compound found in the cannabis plant, hemp is a strain of cannabis that contains a high amount of CBD and a low amount of THC. CBD is concentrated in the flowers of the hemp plant. However, traces of the compound can be found in the entire plant, such as the stem, leaves, and stalk.

There are marijuana-derived CBD and hemp-derived CBD. However, marijuana has a higher level of THC than hemp. Texas permits businesses that have obtained the appropriate licenses and permits to sell hemp-derived CBD oil in the state as it only contains trace amounts of the psychoactive compound, THC.

Hemp Applications

Industrial hemp is a versatile plant that may be cultivated for its fiber, seed, or oil. It is commonly grown for its medicinal uses but may also be used in the production of:

  • Hempcrete or hemp insulation: Hempcrete, often known as hemp insulation, is a bio-composite construction material composed of hemp and lime. It has excellent thermal, structural, and moisture-handling capabilities and may be used for roof, wall, and slab insulation. In these roles, it is a ready substitute for fiberglass
  • Fabric: Although modern fabrics are commonly made of cotton or linen, hemp has been used to make textiles for centuries. In recent times, fabric producers are rediscovering industrial hemp as a natural product for creating breathable garments
  • Cosmetics: Hemp seed oil is used to make beauty products for soothing and moisturizing effects. Hemp may be used in lip balms, soaps, and hand creams
  • Plastic: Hemp stem cellulose may be used to produce bioplastic. Hemp plastics are biodegradable and compostable and may be made as bio-based resin or polymer. Hemp plastic is a carbon-negative renewable resource compared to plastic generated from fossil fuels
  • Paper: Prior to the introduction of wood pulp for paper manufacturing, hemp was the material of choice. Numerous qualities make it an excellent raw material for papermaking. Compared to wood pulp, hemp is better suited since it has more cellulose and less lignin. Hemp paper is more resistant to yellowing, cracking, and deterioration than tree paper, which is more susceptible to aging
Texas Hemp Overview