Texas judge rules ban on smokable hemp unconstitutional, good news for hemp growers

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HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — On Monday, 261st District Court Judge Lora Livingston based in Travis County, sent a letter ruling the ban on smokable hemp unconstitutional.

“If the smokable hemp ban, if they did that, I would probably be out of business,” said Trevor Kocaoglan, owner of Rio CBD RGV a hemp store located in Harlingen.

According to the executive director of the marijuana advocacy group Texas NORML, Jax Finkel, this is an opportunity for the hemp market to continue growing, and reach more people who could benefit from its medicinal properties.

Credit KVEO Iris Karami

Finkel said there is a difference between recreational marijuana and hemp, also known as CBD.

“Cannabis sativa has many varietals and hemp is one of the varietals and it is traditionally low in THC and the statute dictates that it’s 0.3% THC or less,” said Finkel.

THC is a psychoactive compound that is found under 1% in hemp, according to Finkel, but hemp is used for more than just consumption.

“Traditionally it has been more in an industrial use like rope, textiles, hempcrete for building materials,” said Finkel.

Finkel said hemp became legal in Texas in 2019, but there were restrictions on retail and manufacturing.

“The Department of State Health Services while they were making regulations decided that they also couldn’t sell or distribute smokable hemp products,” said Finkel.

Finkel said with Judge Livingston’s ruling, it opens the doors for an opportunity for many Texans like Kocaoglan.

“I really got interested in growing my own when my dad had cancer,” said Kocaoglan. “I learned on my own and I gave it to him and it ended up working.”

Kocaoglan said he is the first in-house hemp grower in the Rio Grande Valley and is focused on growing a strain of hemp called CBG that helps specifically with inflammation.

“CBD in the last two years has been proven to help in a lot of situations especially CBG which is still in research which is what I am doing right now,” he said.

Credit KVEO Iris Karami

Kocaoglan said each plant he grows is certified by the Food and Drug Administration and the Texas Department of Agriculture, and people must be at least 21 years old to purchase.

According to Judge Livingston’s letter, a final judgment should be prepared and submitted for her signature soon.

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