The Texas House of Representatives has passed legislation legalizing the cultivation of hemp, and it is expected to be passed by the Senate and signed by Governor Greg Abbott.
HB 1325, authored by Rep. Tracy King (D-Batesville), would allow Texas farmers to begin growing the crop. Hemp products have already been legal to possess, though the plant had to be imported from other countries. The unofficial vote count showed unanimous support on the House floor, with 144 voting in favor, and one legislator present and not voting.
This follows the federal government legalizing the growing of hemp late last year. The plant has often been confused with the marijuana plant, both of which are from the cannabis plant family and have some similar characteristics, though hemp does not have enough THC to produce a euphoric effect.
Concerns about the hiding of marijuana within hemp crops have subsided over the years, as hemp would effectively cross-pollinate and choke out any nearby marijuana crops. There are still issues with law enforcement not having the training or the tools to tell one plant from another, as there have been instances where entire shipments of hemp have been detained and those transporting it arrested.
Similar legislation had been proposed during the 2017 legislation session, though it never went anywhere as state officials feared running afoul of federal law.
Hemp was originally made illegal to grow in 1970 due to its similarities to marijuana.