CBD oil

The Vapor Room offers edible CBD infused gummies for purchase at their location on Timberland Drive.

The sale of cannabidiol oil has remained a hot topic following passage of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, with many believing it is now legal at all levels.

In truth, the sale and possession of CBD oil comes down to state law. As of the time of this writing, CBD oils are illegal to sell and possess in Texas. However, Texas House Bill 1325 is working to change the state’s laws to adhere to standards similar to the 2018 Farm Bill.

According to a report from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Duncanville police raided two stores in the area selling CBD products in March of this year. No arrests were made, but CBD products and cash were seized.

“It may be legal under federal law, but it can still be illegal under our state statutes,” County Attorney Cary Kirby said. “We just have a stricter standard.

“That just means you’re not going to be prosecuted for violating a federal law in that circumstance. That doesn’t mean that a state may not have prohibited it.”

HB1325 defines the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana. Hemp in HB 1325 is defined as the plant cannabis sativa L. with a tetrahydrocannabinol concentration no more than .3% on a dry weight basis. The law also legalizes the industrial hemp farming and the sale of hemp-derived products, such as CBD oil, with provisions for sellers to ensure products are properly labeled and that products contain no more than a .3% concentration of THC. Labels also will need to include a batch identification, a date and the name of manufacturers.

“This new act distinguishes hemp from marijuana if it has less than .3% THC,” Kirby said. “It can then be legally grown and apparently sold.”

Some of the provisions in HB1325 include the requirement for product to be tested for its THC levels through an accredited lab and random testing. Civil penalties for violators, as well as registration for retailers and certain products, are to be developed, as well.

“It’s going to be well-regulated for consumer safety,” said Lufkin Police Detective JB Smith.

Should HB1325 pass, Smith said the Texas Department of State Health Services will have to create the policies and procedures. Those who wish to sell or manufacture hemp-based products won’t have to register with DSHS until the rules are created and fair notice is to be given to those who are violating procedures. Smith also said procedures and inspection rules are still to be determined, with the DSHS and Texas Department of Public Safety to work together in establishing and upholding the inspections.

Additionally, Kirby said the state currently has a limited statute that allows for those with a form of epilepsy to purchase CBD products with a low THC concentration. Additionally, House Bill 3703 expands on those who may be prescribed CBD with a THC concentration of .5% or less with additional medical conditions.

Although CBD oil isn’t legal just yet on a state level, it hasn’t stopped retailers all over Texas, Lufkin included, from selling CBD products. The Vapor Room has been selling the products to customers eager to try it out.

“It’s grown massively over the past ten months,” said owner Donovan Sender. “We started with a very small, limited amount.

“I’ve got compression fractures on my back. It’s done wonders for me. Standing up, talking to customers — it does wonders for me.”

As it is currently illegal to manufacture hemp-derived products in Texas, the Vapor Shop’s products currently come from out-of-state vendors. Sender says most of the shop’s current customers are older and in search of something to help with pain and anxiety.

“We wouldn’t continue to sell it and be expanding if it wasn’t something that was getting repeat customers,” Sender said.

Kirby said CBD is something Angelina County hasn’t had to deal with regularly on a legal level. The possession of such oils is currently a felony, but District Attorney Joe Martin said he hasn’t had any cases regarding CBD, and with the likelihood of it becoming legal with proper reservations under the upcoming House bill, he doesn’t intend to prosecute violations just yet.

“I don’t want to be in a position of trying to pick a jury on a case and explaining it’s legal now but it was illegal six months ago,” Martin said, adding that he can only speak for his own office’s outlook.

“If I was someone who was selling CBD oil, I’d wait and see what happened first.”

Likewise, Smith said LPD hasn’t acted on local CBD vendors due to the pending legislation.

“We haven’t done anything with it because of the confusion over it,” he said. “CBD oil wasn’t a thing in Lufkin until this legislation started. We haven’t attempted to regulate it.

“We’re not having complaints about it. The prosecutors are not interested in pursuing it. There’s nothing for us to do at this point.”

According to the Legiscan.com, HB 1325 passed the House with 140 votes for, three votes against, two no votes and five abstentions. It received 31 yes votes in the Senate, with no one voting against the bill or abstaining. It was sent to Gov. Greg Abbott May 26.

Legiscan.com also states the support for HB 3703 was similar, with 136 voting yes in the House, five against, one no-vote and eight abstained. In the Senate, 25 voted yes and six voted no. It was sent to Abbott May 28.

According to the Texas Legislature’s website, if a two-thirds majority in each house votes in favor of a bill, it will override a potential veto by the governor. As both bills were submitted to Abbott within 10 days of the end of the Legislature’s regular session, Abbott has 20 days to sign, veto or allow both bills to become law without his signature. The deadline for that to happen is June 16.

Austin King’s email address is austin.king@lufkindailynews.com.

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