Consumers in Texas can continue to puff hemp, but the production of hemp smokables is outlawed in the state as a result of a recent Supreme Court ruling.
The ruling is the final word in a legal battle between state health officials and producers that started last year when hemp company Wild Hemp led a group of stakeholders in successfully challenging a 2019 ban on smokable hemp production.
A District Court in Austin found in the companies’ favor last August, striking down the ban, but the Supreme Court reversed that decision on appeal, upholding a rule set by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). The ban applies only to the manufacturing of smokable hemp products, which are widely available and legal to sell, buy and possess in the state.
Smokable hemp producers Crown Distributing, America Juice Co. and 1937 Apothecary, and retailer Custom Botanical Dispensary, were also parties in the failed stakeholders challenge.
The plaintiffs had claimed the law infringed on individual and economic liberty while favoring out-of-state smokable hemp producers.
‘Vicious and harmful’
In its ruling, the court said the right to conduct business in Texas does not extend to companies that “work in fields our society has long deemed ‘inherently vicious and harmful.’”
“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 court wrote in its decision.
The ban was among rules put in place for consumable hemp by the DSHS under a Texas law that followed the federal legalization of hemp as a result of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill.
U.S. states are struggling with the legal status of hemp flowers, which are sold in loose-leaf pouches and pre-rolled into smokable hemp products often marketed based on their CBD content. Some have banned such products but many have yet to set rules.