Hemp bills stall out in Texas
As the official session of the Texas legislature comes to a close at the end of this month, a pair of hemp bills have officially stalled out, despite strong support.
House Bill 1322 would have legalized the growing of hemp in Texas by farmers and made the process similar to that of other crops. A group pushing the bill, Texas Hemp Industries Association, has said that they had more than enough votes to get the legislation out of committee, however both Representative Tracy King and Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson would not allow a vote on the matter. The two are Chair and Co-Chair, respectively, of the Agriculture and Livestock Committee in the Texas House of Representatives.
A hemp bill did make it out of committee unanimously however, House Bill 557, which legalizes the growing of hemp for research purposes by institutions of higher education. That bill however died in the Calendar Committee before it could be scheduled for a vote by the full House.
Both bills were submitted by Rep. Joe Farias of San Antonio.
Opposition to hemp legalization in Texas came only from one person, Sheriff William Travis of Denton County. Travis attended the hemp hearing, though at times appeared confused as to what he was talking about, at one point referring to hemp as marijuana before a member of the committee corrected him.
Currently hemp can be imported, consumed, and used to make a wide range of products, however farmers in Texas cannot grow it. Hemp products were valued at $620 million nationally last year.
A versatile plant which consumes half the water of cotton while producing 250 percent more fiber, grows in most soil, and is used in over 25,000 products, hemp is legal to cultivate in 21 states. However, only three states currently grow hemp, while the other 18 have research programs.
Hemp comes from the same plant family as marijuana, however it does not contain any psychoactive ingredients which would produce a high. It has also been shown to destroy nearby outdoor marijuana growing operations due to cross-pollination. Its association with marijuana however caused it to be made federally illegal, despite prior federal efforts to encourage the growing of hemp, including the production of a documentary entitled “Hemp for Victory.”
Two major companies in Texas endorsed HB 1322, including Whole Foods, and Farm Bureau.
During the hemp hearing, a representative from Texas Farm Bureau testified in favor of the bill.
By: Stephen Carter
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