US (TX): Court case challenging smokable hemp manufacturing ban

The Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral arguments concerning the state’s ban on manufacturing smokable hemp products—the latest development in a drawn-out legal battle on the policy first proposed and challenged in 2020.

A lower court determined in August that a proposed ban on the manufacturing and sale of smokable hemp was unconstitutional and imposed a permanent injunction that barred the state from prohibiting the full range of hemp activity. Texas officials then raised the in-state manufacturing matter to the state’s highest court.

Hemp products—including those that can be inhaled—have been legal in Texas since Congress federally legalized the crop under the 2018 Farm Bill and the legislature followed suit, so long as the cannabis contains no more than 0.3 percent THC per dry weight. But regulators threw the industry for a loop when the Department of State Health Services proposed a rule prohibiting the manufacturing and sale of smokable hemp products within the state.

Following a lower court ruling last year, the state dropped its ban on selling smokable hemp; however, it maintained a rule that those products could only be lawfully sold if they were manufactured and processed out of state. It’s a point that hemp stakeholders and the legal counsel of four cannabis businesses in the state who brought about the original lawsuit have consistently emphasized.

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