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Texas Senate To Hold Public Hearing on Delta-8, Delta-9 THC Products

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Many legal Texas hemp store owners could soon face a sudden change in the way they operate their businesses. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is calling on the Senate to review and consider a ban on delta-8 and delta-9 hemp products.

In April, Patrick notified the Texas Senate to revisit a decision from 2019 that allowed hemp products containing delta-8 and delta-9 THC to become legalized. Later this month on May 29, a hearing with the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee will allow the public to comment about a ban on delta-8 and delta-9 products, to “Examine the sale of intoxicating hemp products in Texas. Make recommendations to further regulate the sale of these products, and suggest legislation to stop retailers who market these products to children.”

Texas has legalized medical cannabis for patients with a qualifying condition, but adult-use cannabis is not legal. Consumable hemp was legalized across the country when the Farm Bill was passed in 2018, and Texas legislators approved a bill to legalize the sale of consumable hemp products in June 2019 with House Bill 1325.

By 2020 the Texas Department of State Health Services had begun to register retail stores (about 1,948 at the time) for the sale of hemp-based products. According to the Texas Tribune, this increased to 8,343 by registered stores by 2023, and by April 2024, the number of registered stores has surpassed 7,700. 

Currently there is no law that limits the number of hemp dispensaries that can operate through the state. In April 2023, the House approved House Bill 1805, which would have established such limits, but it didn’t get a vote in the Senate.

The House has not yet been asked to conduct a similar discussion or public hearing regarding a ban on delta-8 and delta-9 hemp products. However, it’s possible that the issue could escalate after legislators convene the legislative session in January 2025.

While Patrick has put the spotlight on hemp products with THC, this potential move has some hemp business owners concerned. Shayda Torabi has been running a hemp dispensary with her two sisters in Austin, Texas. Together they created the brand, Restart, and Torabi also holds a position as president of the Texas Hemp Coalition. “We’re now seeing the hemp conversation not just in Texas, but nationally, show the pathway for how we can access this plant and really, ultimately help consumers who are seeking relief with cannabis products,” said Torabi. “We’re watching and waiting to see what happens next.”

Torabi’s dispensary carries hemp products made from CBD or low-THC compounds such as THCA, as well as delta-8 and delta-9 through a variety of ways (in gummies, edibles, oils, and flower). Torabi told the Texas Tribune that she welcomes any new regulations that would further legitimize her business. “It is the wild, wild West out there, and I can imagine you’d throw a stone in any direction and find not only new CBD products but the expansion of psychoactive cannabinoids,” Torabi said. “And it’s a double-edged sword. It’s great that we’re giving access to these products where the consumers are, but the lack of regulation is really the crux of the conversation.” She added that illegal products only work to bring her own business down.

Torabi stands by her products, which she said has helped many of her customers treat everyday conditions such as inflammation, depression, insomnia, and more. “We share the same concerns as Patrick, which is why we really do try to self-regulate as much as possible because we see where there can be malintent or taking what the intent was and twisting it,” said Torabi. “It’s a challenging place to be in because I do empathize with the state’s concerns, but the transformative conversations that we’re having on a daily basis are just so powerful, and those shouldn’t be overlooked.”

To Patrick, however, Torabi wants to convey that an outright ban would not be helpful. “We’re simply asking Dan Patrick to not eliminate the market but to further regulate and lean on organizations like ours, and to lean on leading operators like myself at Restart, to really understand and become educated,” Torabi commented.

To ensure that her products are legal and regulated, Torabi’s hemp dispensary only carries products produced in Texas, and only sells delta-8 and delta-9 hemp products to those over 21 (and CBD products to those over 18).

Another local business owner, Nico Richardson, who is CEO of Texas Original, also commented that he is required to follow intense regulations as a medical cannabis provider. In comparison, Torabi is not required to adhere to such rules.

The inventory for Richardson’s business can only be stored in one location, and if for some reason a patient doesn’t pick up their medicine at a store, he has to hire a driver to pick that product back up, and take it back to the storage location. “On the way, my driver passes probably 1,500 hemp dispensaries dealing delta-8 and delta-9 with no restrictions, and it’s everywhere in the state,” said Richardson. “Am I upset about that? Yes. I think it’s absolutely horrendous.”

Texas Original is one of three approved medical cannabis dispensaries, but it’s the only one that also owns and operates dispensaries in the state. When asked about a potential hemp industry shut down, Richardson agreed that more regulations are sorely needed. “It was never the intent here in Texas, and it certainly was never the intent for the 2018 federal Farm Bill, that you’d have a massive industry of—let’s call it what it is—intoxicating hemp derivatives. It’s marijuana by another name,” said Richardson. “That’s certainly not how the system was supposed to run.”

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