Hemp was classified as an agricultural product when the 2018 Farm Bill was passed, but the Texas Supreme Court banned smokable hemp in 2019. This was challenged and overturned in August 2021 by the Travis County District Court, stating that it is unconstitutional to ban smokable hemp, and in December 2021, the Texas Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
In March 2022, the Supreme court case was held with the Texas Department of State Health Services (and its commissioner, John Hellerstedt) and four smokable hemp companies (Crown Distributing, America Juice Co., Custom Botanical Dispensary, and 1937 Apothecary).
However, on June 24, the Texas Supreme Court Judge Jeffrey S. Boyd wrote in his opinion that smokable hemp is still banned. “Considering the long history of the state’s extensive efforts to prohibit and regulate the production, possession, and use of the Cannabis sativa L. plant, we conclude that the manufacture and processing of smokable hemp products is neither a liberty interest nor a vested property interest the due-course clause protects,” Boyd wrote.
The Texas Constitution mentions the right “to engage in any of the common occupations of life” and “pursue a lawful calling, business or profession,” but in Boyd’s opinion, these rights don’t apply to hemp production. “It is enough to observe that the due-course clause, like its federal counterpart, has never been interpreted to protect a right to work in fields our society has long deemed ‘inherently vicious and harmful.’”
Dallas-based hemp company Wild Hemp was the primary funding behind this effort, but the legal battle has come to an end. The company’s CEO, Zain Meghani, spoke with Dallas Observer about the ruling and how it will affect local hemp companies.
“This ruling hurts the Texas hemp industry top to bottom,” Meghani said.
Chelsie Spencer, founding member of Ritter Spencer PLLC in Addison, Texas, represented the hemp companies. “The Texas Supreme Court has determined that the Texas Constitution does not protect the economic liberty interest of smokable hemp manufacturers and processors in the state of Texas,” Spencer said. “We are profoundly disappointed in this decision and disheartened by the continued stigma surrounding cannabis. It is telling when the Court insinuates that cannabis is ‘inherently vicious and harmful.’”
Furthermore, the effort has been defeated and according to Spencer, Wild Hemp isn’t willing to spend more money to fight it. “They funded this case entirely and are now being kicked out of their home state.”
According to Spencer, the state loses with this decision to maintain a ban on smokable hemp. “I would anticipate increased consumer costs for Texas products, simply because the state kicked them out this morning, and they all have to move now,” Spencer told the Dallas Observer. “Most telling, our economic expert found that the state will lose one million in tax revenue from Wild Hempettes alone by 2024 by kicking them out.”
Wild Hemp sells a wide variety of hemp goods, such as hemp wraps, CBD Cigarillos, tinctures, topicals, paper cones, and of course their Hempettes CBD Cigarettes. Each cigarette pack can contain up to 1,500mg of CBD and come in four flavors: Natural, Menthol, Pineapple Blaze, and Sweet.
Smokable hemp will continue to be banned for sale and production, but there are other cannabis-related efforts happening in Texas that could lead to decriminalization for consumers. But there are still opposing parties to recreational legalization, including the Texas State Republican Party, which recently issued numerous planks, or stances, on cannabis and hemp. The party endorsed decriminalization in 2018, but stances announced at the 2022 Texas State Republican Convention support classifying cannabis as a Schedule II substance, but also states that recreational marijuana should remain illegal.