Texas Legislature looks to make CBD law more clear

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As cannabidiol, or CBD, products become increasingly popular in Texas, the state Legislature is looking to amend the law.

As of March 27, there are 18 proposed bills related to CBD. These bills range from requiring authorization to produce hemp and products made from hemp to making certain CBD products legal.

“As [the law]stands right now, there is a tremendous amount of gray area on this topic,” said Nishi Whiteley, director for America’s business development for the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute.

Whiteley, who is based in Texas, said the state’s law is complicated but that technically CBD remains illegal.

“However, I’m not sure that [the Department of Public Safety]would have the manpower to actually enforce removing all the CBD that is on the shelves,” she said.

According to the Texas Controlled Substances Act, cannabis and hemp, the plant that makes CBD, and most derivatives or products from the plant are illegal in the state. Shannon Edmonds, director of governmental relations for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, said the Controlled Substances Act is what makes something a crime.

“The safest rule is don’t buy it,” Edmonds said. “The Legislature’s in session. They have some bills before them that may change the status of CBD oils or of hemp derived-CBD or other hemp products or marijuana itself. Until they go home … nothing has changed about the illegal status of those substances.”

Edmonds said it is up to each law enforcement agency on whether or not to enforce the law.

The 2018 federal Farm Bill passed in December, making hemp legal if it has less than 0.3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is a narcotic ingredient that causes a “high” effect.

In March, the Texas Department of State Health Services posted an amendment to the state’s schedule of controlled substances to remove hemp from the Schedule I status. This would bring hemp into compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill.

“[The TDSHS] can do that, but that does not change the Controlled Substances Act, which may still make it a crime,” Edmonds said. “So for regulatory purposes [and]for some medical purposes, the agency can change the legal status of it, but the agency cannot change the Controlled Substances Act, which makes something a criminal offense to possess or manufacture or deliver.”

Whiteley described the industry as the “Wild West.”

“There are a lot of people getting into this CBD [market]and in many ways for good reasons; however, it is an unregulated industry,” she said.

Grand Prairie Police Chief Steve Dye said many consumers do not know if THC is in the CBD they consume.

According to The Texas Compassionate Use Act, companies with a specific license are able to cultivate, process and dispense CBD products with low THC amounts to prescribed patients for epilepsy. The three licensed companies are Cansortium Texas, Compassionate Cultivation and Surterra Texas.

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Cassidy Ritter
Cassidy graduated from the University of Kansas in 2016 with a degree in Journalism and a double minor in business and global studies. She has worked as a reporter and editor for publications in Kansas, Colorado and Australia. She was hired as senior reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's Plano edition in August 2016. Less than a year later, she took the role of editor for the McKinney edition.
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