Texas Hemp Laws Explained


Want to know about the difference between cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)?  How can the Texas Compassionate Use Act that legalizes oils containing CBD or industrial hemp affect you as a consumer?  

CBD and THC are two controversial cannabinoids that are grown naturally in hemp.  The main difference between them is that CBD is legal and safe while THC is highly regulated.  Read on to learn more about CBD and THC and Texas hemp laws, including recent action by the Texas Department of Public Safety to confiscate products containing CBD from a local pharmacy.

What Is CBD?

CBD is removed in oil form from a variety of cannabis called hemp1.  Cannabis is a flowering plant that consists of three varieties: indica, sativa, and ruderalis1.  Cannabis has been used for many kinds of industrial and medical purposes such as oils, fiber, and medicine.  Hemp plants are also cultivated for seeds, fiber, and oil, which are refined into products such as pulp, wax, resin, fuel, and hemp oil1.

CBD is one of 85 chemicals called cannabinoids that can be found in cannabis plants.  It is the second most common compound in cannabis (THC is the most abundant substance).  While CBD closely resembles THC, you cannot get “high” from swallowing or smoking it.  It is legal around the world and has many health benefits.  People have reported that CBD helps them to become more calm and relaxed1.  CBD also has potent antioxidant properties1.

What Is THC?

THC is the most abundant ingredient found in cannabis and is illegal. It is the substance responsible for causing smokers of marijuana to become intoxicated and feel “high.”  THC can be very intoxicating in small amounts, causing you to lose control of your senses.  However, it has been shown to have important medical properties such as pain relief1. The ability to treat pain and certain diseases has triggered the increasing use of marijuana for legal medical reasons.

Although medical marijuana can improve the lives of those facing serious diseases, many medical professionals consider CBD to be safer than THC.  This is because studies have found a link between using THC for the long term and psychiatric disorders like depression and schizophrenia1.  CBD is also considered to have more applications than THC, but CBD has not been studied as extensively as THC.

Texas Hemp Law

On June 1, 2015, the governor of Texas, Greg Abbot, signed SB 339 or the Texas Compassionate Use Act.  The law allows people with intractable epilepsy to purchase medical cannabis under the guidance of a doctor2.  It allows patients to buy cannabis that contains 10% or more of CBD and no more than 0.5% of THC3.  The law authorizes businesses called “dispensing organizations” to grow, process, and sell cannabis with low THC levels.

While other states have similar regulations that limit the distribution of CBD-based products, this Texas hemp law requires doctors to join a registry and provide the registry with information like dosage, how the CBD-based product is administered, and the total quantity of low-THC cannabis needed for the prescription.  The law also requires a licensed marijuana dealer to fill the prescriptions.

The Texas Department of Public Safety or DPS will manage and create rules for the program.  The DPS has until September 1, 2017, to license a minimum of three dispensing organizations.  The type of doctors authorized to prescribe CBD products will be limited to epileptologists and neurologists4.

Texas is among 13 states that have made marijuana illegal for recreational and medicinal purposes4. Recently, 14 states have made CBD legal for particular medical reasons while 23 states have legalized marijuana for broad medical use4.  After Governor Abbot signed SB 339, he stressed that he continues to feel strongly against legalizing marijuana for any purpose and that SB 339 will not open the door to legalizing marijuana in Texas.

Opponents of SB 339 say that this Texas hemp law does not do enough as it only provides options for patients with epilepsy and fails to address patients with other diseases.  Proponents, however, feel that the Texas legislature sent a message with the signing of SB 339 into law: marijuana should be considered a type of medicine.

CBD Products Confiscated by DPS

On September 7, 2016, the DPS entered four People’s Pharmacy locations in Austin, Texas, and confiscated various CBD-based products5.  The DPS officers told Bill Swail, the pharmacy’s owner, that all CBD-based products needed to be removed from the shelves or else he would be arrested.  The DPS officers seized the goods and told Mr. Swail that they would test them for their contents.

Mr. Swail told a television reporter that he complies with Texas hemp laws and that the products on his store shelves have low THC levels.  The DPS later stated that the CBD-based products were removed from the pharmacies so that they could be tested for their THC content and that no one was arrested and no additional action will be made.

The actions of the DPS officers appear to indicate confusion in the agency regarding what is considered legal and subject to regulation.  Sheila Hemphill, policy director for the Texas Hemp Industries Association, believes that the media may have created confusion among law enforcement personnel by having them believe that all CBD-based products are subject to regulation.  Also contributing to the confusion is that the DPS has yet to establish operational rules for the limited Texas hemp law5.


Until the DPS creates specific rules, actions taken against businesses like People’s Pharmacy can be expected.  As a consumer, you should be aware of the benefits of CBD-based products and that they are safe and completely legal.  You should also do more research on CBD and know that CBD-based products can be bought on the Internet or in retail locations across Texas.

Do you live in a state where CBD is legal? Have you had any issues in purchasing CBD-based products? Let me know in the comments.


1. /cannabidiol/

2. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/texas-hemp-industries-association-clarifies-legality-of-hemp-derived-cbd-oil-300328988.html


4. http://www.thedailychronic.net/2015/43734/texas-governor-signs-medical-unworkable-medical-marijuana-bill/

5. http://www.kxan.com/news/local/austin/dps-confiscates-hemp-cbd-oil-from-austin-pharmacy/995001463