Texas is not known for its friendly stance towards cannabis, so it's surprising to see the Lone Star State take a big step toward reform by legalizing hemp production.
On Monday, Governor Greg Abbot (R) signed a bill allowing Texas farmers to legally grow hemp. The state will now begin working on establishing a regulatory program for hemp agriculture. Once the program has been finalized, interested farmers will be able to apply for a state license to grow the hot crop.
Before the bill's signing, state Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller said legalizing hemp production would be a big win for struggling Texas farmers hoping to revitalize their businesses.
"Allowing the Texas Department of Agriculture to create an industrial hemp program here in Texas will give Texas farmers an exciting new opportunity to thrive—and that's something everyone should get behind," Miller said while the bill was making its way through the legislature. "It is all about Texas farmers and ranchers and seeing them prosper."
The new bill will also open up Texas to another trendy business opportunity: CBD - a non-intoxicating compound derived from cannabis, which has become a popular cross-segment wellness product and effective epilepsy treatment. Under the new bill, hemp-derived CBD and CBD-infused products will now be legal for sale and use in Texas.
While it will take some time before Texas farmers can start putting hemp plants in the ground, some have already begun preparing to get into the industry as soon as possible. Produce growers Village Farms International has announced they will be converting some of their greenhouse space currently used to grow vegetables into a hemp facility in anticipation of being licensed to grow.
"The Governor's signing of this bill into law formalizes a significant opportunity for Village Farms as a first mover in the Texas hemp industry and will allow us to capitalize on the expected demand for premium-grade hemp grown in controlled-environment facilities for the high-end health and wellness and the pharmaceutical industries," said Village Farms CEO Michael DeGiglio.
Hemp and hemp-derived CBD became legal on the federal level when President Trump signed the Farm Bill into law last fall. Texas' new policy brings them more in line with current federal policy and the growing number of states with liberalized cannabis laws.
h/t High Times