A Texas judge blocked authorities from enforcing the state’s smokable hemp ban until a trial resolves the dispute between hemp producers and the health department.
A group of four hemp producers sued the state after lawmakers passed a hemp legalization bill last year that explicitly forbade the production of products intended for smoking or vaporization. State health authorities extended its reach earlier this year to prohibit the sale and distribution of such products made outside Texas, a move the hemp companies claim was an unconstitutional overreach of their authorities.
Travis County Judge Lora Livingston said in a ruling that the group of hemp producers suing state health authorities “have demonstrated a probable right to relief” sufficient to warrant a temporary injunction.
The injunction will be in place until the conclusion of a trial scheduled set for Feb. 1, 2021.
The order from Judge Livingston prevents the Texas Department of State Health Services from enforcing its ban on the manufacture, processing, distribution, or retail sale of consumable hemp products for smoking, which took effect Aug. 2.
According to the lawsuit, smokable hemp flower also presents a challenge to consumer safety as it is indistinguishable from hemp grown for other purposes. They argue, the ban will encourage bad actors to mislabel products in order to avoid the prohibition. That could put consumers at risk by exposing them to chemicals and other adulterants not intended for consumption.
The Texas dispute is the first attempt to challenge a smokable hemp ban through state courts, rather than the federal judiciary.