Republican Governor Greg Abbot of Texas signed a bill on Monday that will allow farmers in the state to legally grow hemp. The measure, House Bill 1325 (HB1325), also removes hemp from the state’s list of controlled substances and legalizes cannabidiol, or CBD, and products made with the cannabinoid.
HB 1325 was passed by the Texas House of Representatives in April and approved by the state Senate the following month. The bill received unanimous support in both houses of the legislature.
New Opportunity for Farmers
Gene Hall, a spokesman for the Texas Farm Bureau, said in April that legalizing hemp will give the state’s farmers a new option for their operations.
“There’s no good reason for Texas farmers and ranchers not to have hemp as a crop option,” said Hall. “I suspect a lot of farmers will choose this option once it’s available. It’s a drought-tolerant crop and can be grown anywhere where cropping is prevalent right now.”
Before HB 1325 can go into effect, the state Department of Agriculture will have to create a hemp agriculture regulatory program including a system to license farmers who wish to grow the crop. The plan would then have to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for approval.
“Allowing the Texas Department of Agriculture to create an industrial hemp program here in Texas will give Texas farmers an exciting new opportunity to thrive — and that’s something everyone should get behind,” said state Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller while the bill was navigating its way through the legislature. “It is all about Texas farmers and ranchers and seeing them prosper.”
Hemp Agriculture Infrastructure Already Under Construction
Michael DeGiglio, the CEO of cannabis and produce cultivator Village Farms International, said in a press release that the company will be seeking regulatory approval from the state to grow hemp in Texas.
“The Governor’s signing of this bill into law formalizes a significant opportunity for Village Farms as a first mover in the Texas hemp industry and will allow us to capitalize on the expected demand for premium-grade hemp grown in controlled-environment facilities for the high-end health and wellness and the pharmaceutical industries,” said DeGiglio.
Anticipating the legalization of hemp in Texas, Village Farms has begun converting half of a 1.3 million square foot high-tech greenhouse facility in the state into a hemp cultivation and CBD extraction facility.
“Conversion of half of Permian Basin greenhouse in West Texas for hemp production is now well underway and we look forward to commencing production as soon as possible upon Texas establishing a licensing and regulatory framework for hemp and CBD,” DeGiglio said.