Recent events have produced confusion about the legality of smoking hemp in Texas. The plant has been legal in the Lone Star State since June 10, 2019, allowing different entrepreneurs to enter the booming business.
However, on August 2 of this year, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) placed a ban on one particular product: smokable hemp. It happened despite the opposition expressed by members of the industry.
The Texas Hemp Industries Association asked the DSHS to change the ruling, stating it goes beyond state and federal statutes. Many have argued that the ban pushes Texas companies out of a growing industry.
Since then, four businesses filed a lawsuit in a Travis County court against the DSHS.
"At a time when the Texas economy is reeling from the fiscal impact of COVID-19, it is unfortunate that the State chose to foreclose such a large economic opportunity for our state and instead chose to force long-standing Texas businesses and jobs across the border to neighboring states, such as Oklahoma," said attorney Chelsie Spencer to Marijuana Moment, representing two of the hemp companies.
On August 19, Judge Lora Livingston decided to challenge the ban by granting a temporary restraining order to the suing companies. Livingston disagreed with the Texas state lawyer's case stating that the ban didn't impact any legal businesses.
Now, the DSHS cannot enforce the ban on the manufacture, processing, distribution, or retail sale of hemp products for smoking. So, for now, it's legal until further litigation.
Legal to sell it and... smoke it?
The DSHS ban on smoking hemp was driven by law enforcement's inability to differentiate between hemp and marijuana. Since there isn't a developed field test to determine the THC levels of a plant, it could create problems for smokers and police alike.
Thus yes, smoking hemp is legal, but it could carry many problems to the user—police assuming the consuming product is marijuana. Because of this confusion, it’s better to stay cautious and don’t risk it.