Just as the Texas hemp business begins to thrive, local industry professionals will have to take a step back and re-evaluate their business models as a ban on retail sales of smokable hemp flower is in full effect.
In 2019, Gov. Gregg Abbott signed House Bill 1325, which legalized the cultivation, possession and sale of industrial hemp that contains less than .3% Delta-9 THC, a psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis plants.
Under the new law, the state Department of Agriculture consulted with the Department of State Health Services to adopt rules regulating the sale of hemp products. One of the rules, which the state began enforcing Aug. 2: No selling hemp flowers for smoking.
“In general I think the ruling is silly,” Kirk Edmondson, owner of The Pharm Haus CBD in Richardson, says. “While we are trying to move legalization forward, we continue to get push back from our government. It’s definitely a step backwards in my opinion.”
Smokable hemp flower is hemp in its natural plant state. It looks almost identical to its relative, marijuana, but distinct genetic differences set them apart. It's unclear whether the similarities between the two contributed to the ban of smokable hemp flower.
CBD stores, smoke shops and other retailers are no longer allowed to sell smokable hemp products but they are allowed to sell consumable hemp products. And, technically, someone could still purchase hemp flower in Dallas, so long as the label doesn’t say the hemp is for smoking.
Hemp flower can be used in the same manner as other herbs. The flower can be made into a tea, lotion, food and numerous other products for daily use. That does not mean every store that carries hemp flower will continue to carry it. This regulation could potentially drive Texas consumers to purchase from illegitimate sources if their CBD and hemp suppliers of choice do not adjust to the ruling.
Hunter Foss, an employee at The Glass House TX, says many of their customers are upset about both the ban and overall climate of the cannabis industry in Texas.
“I have customers who have entered the store that use hemp and CBD for epilepsy, fibromyalgia, stress and anxiety,” Foss says. “And personally, I use CBD flower and other hemp products regularly to help with severe panic attacks and to sleep.”
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Businesses that continue to keep hemp flower will have to find creative ways to market their flower and stay away from terms like “smokable.” Edmondson said The Pharm Haus will continue to push forward while staying in compliance.
“As a business, we won’t flinch,” Edmondson said. “While all of our products come from the plant we aren’t reliant on ‘smokable’ flower to survive. We will continue to offer our buds as tea and herbal essentials [and] what the customer does when they leave my store is none of my business.”
Some people choose smokable hemp flower instead of CBD oil because they find the effect from the flower is more satisfying and the impact on their mental, physical and spiritual health is stronger.
“I would personally like to see the state government have more of an open mind when deciding to ban a plant that has given so many people the ability to live in peace," Foss says. “The people creating these laws are doing so with money on their mind, not people’s health. And that is pathetic.”