The move to declassify hemp as a Schedule I drug in Texas, comes after the 2018 Farm Bill that made hemp legal on the federal level. However, the declassification in the state does not allow for farming or production of hemp, but it has sparked debate.
Dr. Josh McGinty, an agronomist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, says there’s a growing interest in producing the crop, and making it legal on the state level.
“Folks are interested, because on the surface at least, it seems like there might be a lucrative market out there,” said Dr. McGinty.
But is South Texas a viable area to produce industrial hemp? Dr. McGinty says there’s not enough research on hemp production in Texas because of its illegal status.
“We don’t know, is the short answer, if it’s going to be viable here along the coast,” said Dr. McGinty.
However, based off of research in Kentucky, Dr. McGinty says our soils may not be ideal, but the Coastal Bend has almost perfect temperature and rainfall.
Regardless, there is no current market for hemp in Texas at this time. So it would be up to legislators in Austin to make it legal in the state, by first re-defining cannabis so hemp is excluded from the definition of marijuana.
“Anything that’s from the cannabis plant is going to be labeled under marijuana and it’s going to be prohibited,” said Kyle Hoelscher, the President of Norml – Corpus Christi, a marijuana policy advocacy group.
After hemp production becomes legal in the state, regulatory guidelines would have to be set by the Texas o Department of Agriculture too.
By the way, a bill has been introduced in the Texas House that would allow the Texas Department of Agriculture to regulate production in Texas.