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The Attack on Hemp in D.C. & Texas in 2024

The Attack on Hemp in D.C. & Texas in 2024

Table of Contents

We've got some bad news. Right now, the legality of hemp-derived cannabinoids is under threat on both a federal level and within the state of Texas. In short, this industry will die if special interests get their way.

But the fight is far from over.

If you've benefited from hemp-derived products in your life and are wondering what’s next, you've come to the right place. This article will cover what's going on in D.C. with the Farm Bill reauthorization, what's happening in our home state of Texas, and what you can do to help.

Let's begin.

The Fight in D.C.

judge's gavel on top of cannabis leaves to illustrate the concept of hemp and marijuana legality

What is the Farm Bill?

Meant to be reauthorized every five years (sometimes it takes longer), Congress passes an omnibus bill covering various aspects of agriculture, such as food and nutrition programs, trade, rural development, conservation, and more.

Farm Bills get passed through the following phases:
  1. The House and Senate Agriculture Committees will draft and vote on their versions of the Farm Bill.
  2. Both the House and the Senate will debate, amend, and vote on a Farm Bill from their respective committees.
  3. Senate and House leaders, including committee chairs, form a conference to combine their versions of the bill
  4. The House and Senate will hold a final vote on the combined bill
  5. The bill makes its way to the White House, where it is signed into law or vetoed by the President

The 2018 Farm Bill

The most recent Farm Bill famously legalized hemp, removing it from the list of controlled substances and defining it as:

"(1) HEMP.—The term 'hemp' means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis."

Since then, many states have followed suit (such as Texas with H.B. 1325 in 2019), legalizing hemp and products containing hemp-derived cannabinoids.

However, other state governments have attempted to ban or succeeded in banning these federally legal products This typically has happened in states with full-blown marijuana programs or states with prohibitionist tendencies. Sometimes, it's due to moralistic ideologues with their feet dug into grossly outdated misinformation about cannabis. But other times, it's pressure from Big Marijuana using state governments to snuff out competition.  

The 2024 Farm Bill

On May 23, 2024, during the House Committee's hearing for their version of the Farm Bill, an amendment proposed by Illinois Rep. Mary Miller (whose home state has legalized both recreational and medicinal marijuana) was added to this version. That amendment would ban hemp-derived Delta-9, Delta-8, HHC, and similar products on a federal level.

The amendment essentially adds exclusions that change the definition of hemp, such as:
  • (ii) any hemp-derived cannabinoids products containing—
  • (I) cannabinoids that are not capable of being naturally produced by a Cannabis sativa L. plan;
  • (II) cannabinoids that—
  • (aa) are capable of being naturally produced by a Cannabis sativa L. plant; and
  • (bb) were synthesized or manufactured outside the plant;
  • or
  • (III) quantifiable amounts (as determined by the Secretary) of—
  • (aa) tetrahydrocannabinol (including tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) or;
  • (bb) any other cannabinoids that have similar effects (or marketed to have similar effects) on humans or animals as tetrahydrocannabinol
On the surface, it only seems like this amendment passed by the House Committee would ban "intoxicating cannabinoids" or "synthetic derivatives," but in reality, it would be devastating to the entire hemp industry whether someone is just producing CBD or hemp for industrial purposes.

Even more interesting is that this amendment was approved at the last minute, with House Agriculture Committee Chairman G.T. Thompson grouping it “en bloc”. This action was a political tactic rarely employed with controversial subjects to pass an unpopular amendment by pairing it with favorable amendments and making people vote on it. This, despite Thompson and committee staff assuring the U.S. Hemp Roundtable they would not support any effort to kill the hemp industry.

What's Next on a Federal Level?

Next, this version of the Farm Bill will move to the House floor, where representatives will vote on it. Although discouraging news, the fight to protect hemp on a federal level is far from over. Given the current political climate of both the House and Senate, along with the fact that 2024 is an election year, it is possible that lawmakers can pass this bill by the end of the year.

But you can still help.

If you want to join the fight to protect hemp-derived cannabinoids, whether because they are how you make a living or because they help make your life a bit easier, you can visit this page to ask your representative to vote against the Farm Bill unless the Mary Miller Amendment is removed.

The Fight in Texas

texas state capitol building in austin texas

As mentioned earlier, hemp and hemp-derived cannabinoids have been legal in the Lone Star State since June 2019 with the passing of H.B. 1325. Since then, there have been numerous attempts to ban these products, which are both federally legal and legal in our state, such as:
And now, these forces are back at it again, but with a bit of twist…this time creating a state-sanctioned monopoly on cannabis.

"But doesn't the state legislator only meet on odd-numbered years?"

Correct, and what has gone on recently are "interim charges."

2024 Interim Charges

Interim charges establish what the Texas House or Senate wants to fix or address legislatively during the upcoming session. A committee will then develop a report that could recommend banning or further regulating hemp-derived THC products.

Check out the YouTube video below to hear from Hometown Hero's Chief Strategy Officer, Cynthia Cabrera, about the interim chargers surrounding hemp, the state of hemp-derived products in Texas, and how the fight for products like Delta-8 and Delta-9 has already begun:

On May 29, 2024, Hometown Hero Cofounder and CEO Lukas Gilkey and other Texas hemp industry supporters delivered testimonies to the state senate along with other allies of the hemp-derived cannabinoid industry. You can listen to his testimony in the video below:

These interim charges are a huge deal because they signal that banning hemp-derived THC is a priority for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick for the upcoming legislative session. Such a ban would block access to such products to many Texans due to the restrictive nature of Texas' weak, faulty Compassionate Use Program. Plus, such a ban would create a state-sanctioned oligopoly, helping just a handful of medicinal marijuana executives become billionaires while tens of thousands of Texans would lose their livelihoods.

But this fight is also far from over.

Don't Mess With Hemp: THBC & Next Steps

This year, Hometown Hero started the Texas Hemp Business Council, a nonprofit trade association dedicated to advancing and protecting hemp-derived products throughout the Lone Star state through lobbying, education, public relations, and government relations. It's an organization consisting of finished goods retailers, distributors, manufacturers and just anyone involved in the hemp-derived cannabinoid industry.

If you are in the industry and want to join in the fight to keep hemp-derived cannabinoids legal in Texas, you can find more information on memberships on the THBC website.

Final Thoughts

That just about wraps it up for updates regarding incoming threats to hemp-derived cannabinoid legality on a federal level and in Texas.

Here is what we covered:
  • A version of the Farm Bill will be voted on by the House of Representatives that includes an amendment that bans hemp-derived THC
  • Let your representatives know that you are against this version by sending an email through this page provided by the U.S. Hemp Roundtable
  • Banning hemp-derived THC will be a priority in the next Texas legislative session
  • Businesses in the Texas hemp industry can join the fight against prohibition in our state by joining the THBC
That's it for updates for now, but we will sure keep you posted. Although there's a lot stacked against us as an industry and a community, we can win if we band together

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