SAN ANTONIO - It's now a real possibility that the state government could begin to regulate hemp, the part of the cannabis family that does not have a psychoactive component.
State Sen. Jose Menendez filed a lengthy bill Monday that includes details about regulation, licensing and research.
Hemp is legal in San Antonio. On the shelves and throughout communities, you'll see the word on beauty products, milk and even construction materials.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, an active cannabinoid in hemp, is used by many people for health purposes. It comes in oils, gummies, food products and dozens of other forms. It is even available for pets with problems such as anxiety.
"It helped me with anxiety in a very, very big way. It's also an antiemetic. It helps people with pain," said Rick Martinez, a registered nurse and CBD entrepreneur and advocate.
Martinez used a very simplified analogy to explain the difference between marijuana and and hemp. He said both that wine and grape juice come from the same or similar plants. Yet wine is alcoholic, while grape juice is not.
It's a similar situation with marijuana and hemp. Marijuana, which contains THC, gets you high, while CBD does not.
"Everybody in the industry knows it has to have less than 0.3 THC. That's the max. There are still plenty of products called full spectrum or broad spectrum that have almost zero. There's no euphoric effect," Martinez said. "There's no high generated from a legal standing CBD product, even at 0.3 percent."
Menendez's bill aims to make that max level of THC, 0.3 percent, state law.
The bill not only calls for regulation of what's inside the CBD products but also licensing.
"I think it brings a sense of legitimacy. It does. Not a lot of people are going to agree with that, but I think it will make people feel better about the product we're going to be putting into our bodies," Martinez said.
He also hopes, if passed, the bill would help create jobs.
"I even highlighted a section of the bill. There are potential jobs here. Right here it says 'plant inspectors,' so that job didn't exist for hemp prior to this," he said.
Skeptics, however, worry about the state getting involved with a substance that hasn't been thoroughly researched. Some research has proven that CBD helps treat epilepsy, but it's approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a medicine for any other condition.
"This has been under the guise of a federally illegal plant, so because of that, you can’t just go do research like you can with most other things," Martinez said.
The Department of State Health Services had proposed to ban and regulate certain CBD products but recently backed off.
The new bill acknowledges the need for research. It includes a lengthy section mandating that the state and institutes of higher education create yearslong research projects, obtaining permits to do so from the federal government.
If the bill passes, it would take effect Sept. 1, 2019.
Copyright 2018 by KSAT - All rights reserved.