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There’s a new crop on the horizon for Texas ag producers.

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Industrial Hemp has been illegal to grow in the state of Texas since 1937 but activists across the state are working to remove restrictions on the crop in the upcoming legislative session. As people may recognize, Hemp is a cannabis plant and, therefore, a relative of Marijuana, but their uses are vastly different.

Hemp, or Industrial Hemp as it is frequently called, has a variety of economical uses, but lacks the psychoactive properties of Marijuana caused by high levels of the ingredient THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). In order to be classified as Hemp, the strain of the cannabis plant being grown, by definition, cannot contain enough THC to produce a psychoactive response. However, Hemp also contains the positive medical properties that are contained in Marijuana in the form of CBD (cannabidiol oil) without the effects of a high THC content. CBD has been found to be useful to patients suffering from epilepsy and seizures. Hemp cannot be altered or manipulated to become psychoactive. It is biologically impossible. Some may be concerned that Hemp farming could be used to conceal Marijuana growth, but, in fact, when Hemp is planted near Marijuana, cross pollination results in removal of all the psychoactive properties of Marijuana.

In addition to the medical uses of the plant, as the name “Industrial Hemp” implies, Hemp has a variety of industrial and economic uses. One of the most notable potentials for Hemp fibers is for textiles. Because Hemp is an antimicrobial fiber, China has used it for years for military garments and medical linens and bandages. Europe currently uses Hemp for plastic composites, specifically in car manufacturing for items like dashboards and door panels. Before regulation of Hemp in the 1930s, it was bountifully grown in various parts of Texas, especially closer to the coastline, but could be found growing in east, central, and west Texas, as well. Deregulation would give farmers an additional stream of revenue, and a more lucrative one at that. For example, in the amount of time it takes to grow cotton, farmers can harvest three rounds of Hemp. In addition to time, Hemp requires less water to grow, thus saving farmers’ time and resources when compared to other commonly-grown crops.

Under current Texas law, Hemp can be imported and sold in Texas. Food products containing Hemp, cosmetics containing Hemp Seed Oil, and fibers made from Hemp are all currently sold within the state. Many southern states have already adopted either provisions to study Industrial Hemp or provisions to make its growth legal. Texas Hemp Industries Association is modeling their deregulation after legislation passed in Tennessee. Bills to study Industrial Hemp and bills to legalize its growth will be filed in the 2017 legislature. The deregulation bill is expected to be filed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. For more information on Industrial Hemp and the Texas Hemp Industries Association’s plans for the upcoming legislative session, visit, http://txhia.org/



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