A Texas judge ruled in favor of plaintiffs who sued the Texas Department of State Health Services after it banned the manufacturing and sale of smokable hemp products back in 2019, calling the ban “unconstitutional.”
According to Marijuana Moment, Judge Lora Livingston of the 261st District Court’s ruling means that the ban “will be fully invalidated after counsel submits final judgements for her to sign.” Matt Zorn, one of the plaintiff group’s lead attorneys, said “We’re pleased with the result. This law never made any sense, was an unjustifiable infringement of liberty when enacted and would have seriously hurt the Texas hemp industry from farmers to consumers if allowed to move forward. After a full trial, the court saw things our way and declared the statute unconstitutional under the Texas Constitution.” While the ban wasn’t necessarily surprising for a Southern state still heavily stuck in the era of prohibition, it was a clear detriment to the burgeoning cannabis industry in the state and the farmers, business owners, and consumers/patients who were benefiting in a milieu of ways from the hemp in the state. “Our position all along has been the manufacturing and processing ban didn’t make any sense,” said Zorn.
Zachary Maxwell, president of Texas Hemp Growers, is hopeful that this ruling will set a precedent for other states that are similarly dealing with prohibition-era statutes and limitations. But aside from customer and patient needs, the plaintiffs presented their case to the state in a way that showed the court the potential fiscal detriment of banning hemp manufacturing and sales. “The attorneys behind the Texas Hemp Legal Defense Fund fought hard, brought fact-based arguments to the courtroom, and proved the undeniable financial harm caused by this cavalier ban,” he said. But while this may have been, according to Maxwell, a “major win for Texas” hemp industry, other activists are really pushing for more reform when it comes to marijuana laws in the state.
“A newly established progressive group in the state called Ground Game Texas unveiled a campaign in June to put an initiative to decriminalize cannabis possession and ban no-knock warrants on this November’s ballot in Austin,” wrote Marijuana Moment. While Governor Greg Abbot recently signed legislation to slightly expand the state’s medical marijuana program (increasing the allowed THC levels and adding qualifying conditions), “a strong majority of Texans back even broader reform.” It will be interesting to watch how Texas and other Southern states continue handling the legalization process and to watch how activists handle the never-ending roadblocks that seem to keep cropping up on their way to reform.