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Hemp research bill passes out of Texas legislative committee

A crop of hemp ready to be harvested.
A crop of hemp ready to be harvested.

A bill to legalize hemp for research purposes by institutions of higher education has passed unanimously out of the Agriculture and Livestock Committee.

House Bill 557, introduced by Rep. Joe Farias of San Antonio would allow Texas universities to commission the growing of hemp so that they may research it.

Hemp has proven to be 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.

A hearing was held last month on both this bill and another, House Bill 1322, which would fully legalize hemp for Texas farmers to grow.

The bill received overwhelming support, and no one testified against the research bill, however HB 1322 was opposed by Sheriff Will Travis of Denton County who confused hemp with marijuana during the hearing.

Representatives of the Texas Hemp Industries Association (TXHIA) were on hand during the hearing to educate committee members about hemp.

Coleman Hemphill, the Marketing Director of TXHIA, saw the bill’s passage as a victory.

“Our aim is to bring industrial hemp to Texas farmers, businesses, and consumers. Moving HB 557 out of committee is a great step forward and we are hoping to see the same support for the companion HB 1322. University studies through HB 557 without a DEA permit that the Texas Department of Agriculture could acquire to bring viable seed to the state through HB 1322 is like being given a gun with no bullets.”

HB 557 now moves on to the full Texas House of Representatives and awaits scheduling for a vote. If passed, the bill moves on to the Texas Senate before heading to the governor’s desk.

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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