Police raided a pair of north Texas CBD stores recently, even as policymakers in the Lonestar State began reevaluating the legal status of hemp and CBD.
On March 15, police raided GM Tobacco stores in Duncanville and Lancaster, Texas. These two suburbs are located just south of Dallas, in the larger Dallas-Fort Worth Metro Area of northern Texas. Amy Wazwaz, who co-owns the stores with her husband Houd, told NBC DFW that police seized about $50,000 in hemp-derived CBD, including hundreds of CBD oil products and about 30 pounds of loose, smokable hemp. Police also took cash from the register and the safe.
Dan Sullivan, attorney for the Wazwaz family, told Ministry of Hemp that the stores only sold legal, high-quality CBD products. “They won’t sell anything that doesn’t have third party lab testing” proving its purity and legality, he explained.
Texas crime laboratories “are not able to distinguish between industrial hemp, on the one hand, and whats considered ‘marijuana’ under federal law.” — Attorney Dan Sullivan
The raids come amid a rapidly shifting legal landscape for CBD oil and industrial hemp itself. While the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp in the U.S., the USDA isn’t expected to release new guidelines for hemp for months. Individual states still retain the power to create more restrictive policies toward hemp. The status of CBD itself remains in limbo pending further evaluation by the FDA.
Despite remaining in a legal gray area, many stores, from grocery stores to local CBD shops, sell CBD products in Texas.
STATE RESTRICTIONS ON HEMP LOOSENED AFTER NORTH TEXAS CBD STORES RAIDED
Under federal law, hemp products like CBD oil must contain less than 0.3 percent THC. Sullivan said all the GM Tobacco stores’ products met this standard. Unfortunately, police are poorly trained to recognize the difference between legal and illegal forms of cannabis.
“The crime laboratories operated by the state are not able to distinguish between industrial hemp, on the one hand, and whats considered ‘marijuana’ under federal law,” Sullivan said.
These police labs, he elaborated, could only detect the presence or absence of THC, rather than detecting whether levels remain under legal minimums.
In addition to the recent raids on the two North Texas CBD stores, in December, police also raided a CBD shop in Nebraska, and briefly threw the owners in jail. Prosecutors dropped the charges in January.
Back in Texas, Sid Miller, the state’s agriculture commissioner, recently expressed support for hemp. On April 5, the Texas Department of State Health Services will remove hemp from Texas’ Controlled Substances List, bringing it in line with similar federal scheduling changes mandated by the 2018 Farm Bill. However, that doesn’t fully clear up the legal status of hemp and especially CBD oil. One issue remains the very broad definition of other state anti-marijuana statutes, which Sullivan described as “confusing.”
“It’s hard to say what it actually means.”
He called the case against his clients and their stores a “technicality.”
Sullivan continued, “It’s because the statutes are outdated.”
STATE LEGISLATION COULD PROTECT HEMP & CBD IN TEXAS
The Texas Legislature is currently in session, and debating several bills to change Texas cannabis and hemp laws. Their future remains uncertain.
Supporters of hemp and CBD packed into a hearing on April 1 for a bill that would clearly legalize both in the state. It’s future remains uncertain, however, due to remaining hostility and stigma toward cannabis in the Lone Star State.
In 2015, Texas created an extremely limited medical cannabis program. Only a few hundred people with severe epilepsy qualify and that program only produces CBD oil made from psychoactive cannabis. No other forms of medical or recreational cannabis are legal in Texas.
“They carved out the narrowest possible exception,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan doesn’t think Texas will legalize recreational cannabis this session due to the ongoing stigma. He does think pressure over CBD and hemp could have positive results.
“They may be more inclined to legalize CBD oil than to allow that pressure to result in generalized legalization of cannabis.”
Ministry of Hemp will continue to monitor this case, and upcoming hemp legislation in Texas.