SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Department of State Health Services released its final rules to govern the state's hemp program. With those rules that take effect Sunday comes a retail ban on smokeable hemp.
Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1325 into law last June to allow for the production, manufacturing, retail sale, and inspection of hemp products in Texas. The bill included products like cannabidiol, or CBD, and certain other parts of the hemp plant.
Jax Finkel, executive director of Texas NORML -- a nonprofit that focuses on cannabis reform -- says lawmakers created a hemp program in the last legislative session under the Department of State Health Services.
The goal of the program is to come up with rules and regulations for the hemp industry.
"They lay out the guidelines for what's allowable in your product. What are the required testing protocols? (It's) a lot of things that are just kind of like truth in labeling good consumer protections," Finkel said.
Finkel said the program had already banned the manufacturing of hemp for smokeable purposes in the last session. However, it hadn't yet expressly prohibit these types of products at the retail level.
So the state asked the public for comment on why it should keep smokeable hemp products on shelves.
"There were just under 1,700 commenters, however, who strongly disagreed with (a retail hemp ban) being included in the rules," Finkel said.
Because of the retail smokeable hemp ban that’s taking effect on Aug. 2, many shops across Texas will be affected, Finkel says.
"(Shops have) been able to stay open, keep people employed. We hope that's able to continue. But if they take a hit to income due to the retail shops not being able to sell CBD, that could be problematic for them," she said.
So what does this ban mean for you, the consumer, when purchasing from a local shop? Finkel says you'll still be able to get hemp tinctures, lotions, edibles and loose flower that can be used for various reasons.
“You know, anything that’s not marketed for smoking or vaporization will still be able to be available to everyone,” she said.
Grace Delgado, the founder of The Texas CBD Blog, has been advocating for change on her website.
"I wrote up a few blog posts. I was on a few podcasts and talked about how easy it was and how important it was" to comment on the state's proposed rules, she said.
Delgado said the new rules are a cause for concern for consumers who rely on these types of hemp products for relief.
"It confuses the ability for consumers to know what to do with their product and be properly educated. And not to me, that's a little misleading, and it's a lot of gray area," she said.
As someone who writes copy for brands and provides educational content, Delgado says the change in rules will also affect how she does business.
"Doing this doesn't set a good precedent for good business practices when it comes to the educational process, when it comes to how we can clearly communicate with consumers. And that's really where it's affecting me," Delgado said.
Delgado says for those consumers who may be confused, it's essential to be informed and stay up to date on the latest cannabis news and politics.
"The cannabis industry cares about you finding what works best for you and building on that information, because at the end of the day, we want cannabis reform," she said.
To read more about the Texas hemp rules, click here.