Texas Sued Over Smokable Hemp Ban
It only took a few days for Texas to find itself in a lawsuit against its recent smokable hemp ban.
On Sunday, August 2, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) officially banned smokable hemp sales and distribution. (This ban is in addition to the already banned manufacturing and processing of smokable hemp.) By Wednesday, four businesses had filed a lawsuit against Texas for irrationally burdening hemp processors and hindering economic advancement in the state.
The Plaintiffs Suing Texas Over Smokable Hemp Ban
Hemp businesses throughout the state of Texas stand to lose from the recent smokable hemp ban in the area. Fortunately, many in the industry are not just entrepreneurs – they are pioneers helping pave the way toward hemp reform in Texas. Four such entities have taken it upon themselves to do just that by suing the state for the potential damages the smokable hemp ban will cause.
The primary plaintiff in the lawsuit is a company called Crown Distributing, more commonly known for its Wild Hemp brand hemp cigarettes. Mansoor Alibhai, President of Crown, is currently seeking a commercial hemp facility in Oklahoma so he can transfer his company out of Texas. However, he claims that doing so will cost him substantial time, effort, labor, and money.
Joining the lawsuit are companies American Juice Co, Custom Botanical Dispensary, and Apothecary, all of which generate considerable profit off of their various lines of smokable hemp products. They claim that the ban is unnecessarily burdensome, which will result in tremendous economic loss for the state.
Consequently, the plaintiffs request the following:
- The defendants will appear in court to state their case
- Judge will declare that the ban is a violation of constitutional law
- The judge will declare that 25 Texas Administrative Code § 300.10425 is invalid
- Judge will approve a temporary injunction to block DSHS from enforcing the ban
The Premise of the Lawsuit
Governor Greg Abbott signed Texas HB 1325 into law on June 10, 2019. The bill established Texas’ hemp program and delegated regulatory authority over consumable hemp products to the DSHS. The bill also required DSHS to adopt rules prohibiting the processing and manufacturing of smokable hemp in the state. It did now, however, grant the DSHS the authority to regulate sales and distribution. As such, both individuals and businesses can bring smokable hemp into the state for resale, thus keeping the state’s smokable hemp market afloat.
However, earlier this month, the DSHS decided to extend its authority to restrict smokable hemp distribution and sales, as well. The plaintiffs suggest that the agency does not have the power to enact law, maintaining that DSHS’s only authority is over processing and manufacturing. As such, the new code is invalid.
Building from that notion, the plaintiffs further claim that there is no plausible way for law enforcement to benefit from the ban. If retailers can sell hemp from neighboring states, then they cannot possibly enforce a ban on smokable hemp from Texas.
Furthermore, the ban still allows the sale of consumable (edible) hemp. Consequently, many sellers now market hemp flower as tea or a food additive then let their consumers decide how to use it. This fact proves two things: first, that hemp industry professionals are incredibly resourceful, and second, that these restrictions are silly and ineffective.
Protecting Economic Liberty
The 1876 Due Course of Law Clause has protected Texan’s economic liberty for decades. The plaintiffs suggest that by implementing strict hemp restrictions, the state government is violating this clause, thus irrationally burdening hemp processors and manufacturers in the state. As a particularly young industry, they explain that these restrictions could cause irreparable harm to the Texas hemp industry. The consequences of the ban are five-fold:
- Drive Texas business out of the state
- Discourage companies from operating in Texas
- Move Texas jobs out of the state
- Deprive the Texas economy of billions of dollars
- Set Texas behind other states
Final Thoughts: Texas Sued Over Smokable Hemp Ban
The American hemp industry is not for the light-hearted. It is an evolving industry that faces an upward battle of legislation and corresponding regulations. Those already involved in the hemp industry understand that the battle is only beginning.
We are grateful for those on the front lines who stand up for the rights of American hemp farmers. We’re rooting for Texas and the plaintiffs in this lawsuit against it. We will keep you abreast of the case and encourage you to do the same. Share this content on social media and email it to your friends in the industry. Together, we can create a thriving hemp industry that serves the people from its very roots.