CBD oil is a step closer to being legalized in Texas after legislators in the House voted on Tuesday to allow people to buy it without fear of being arrested.
The bill cleared the House with no one opposing it, paving the way for a final vote before it moves to the Senate, where it may meet some resistance, including possibly from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
The bill would allow Texas farmers to grow hemp, which is used to make CBD oil and other products.
It would also clear up confusion for consumers – who can buy CBD oil right now in stores — even though many Texas law enforcement officials insist it's illegal, including in Tarrant County.
One of the bill's key supporters, Rep. Drew Springer (R-Gainesville), told NBC 5 Investigates he faced some questions from legislators who were concerned that legalizing CBD might be a first step toward legalizing marijuana.
But he said he reassured them that the hemp used to make CBD has little or no THC — the ingredient that gives people a high in marijuana.
But late Tuesday NBC 5 Investigates learned there were still lingering questions about what would happen in the Texas Senate.
Patrick — who has power to block legislation — still has not stated his position on hemp and CBD.
Patrick's spokesman told NBC 5 he would provide a statement in response to questions. But late Tuesday there was no response.
The Texas Hemp Industries Association also said it has received no word from Patrick on his stance on CBD.
But Coleman Hemphill, a spokesman for the association said he was still hopeful about the group's prospects in the Senate.
"A lot of those discussions have been very positive, so we are very optimistic to see if move forward," Hemphill said.
Meanwhile, another state representative from North Texas said his office received a flurry of calls from constituents — all supporting CBD products — which many Texans already buy in a gray market — to treat pain and other problems.
"In this particular bill we have had 102 people say they are for the bill and no one opposed. We never see that, so we are seeing a lot of excitement about this bill," Giovanni Capriglione (R-Keller) said.
Without decisive action from the legislature this year — consumers would have to wait two more years to clear up CBD confusion.
The next legislative session is not until 2021. And stores across the state continue to sell CBD in a a market with very murky rules.
In a series of reports NBC 5 Investigates has revealed the legal ambiguity surrounding CBD in Texas and examined how other states have grappled with the issue.
NBC 5's Senior Investigative Reporter Scott Friedman is in Austin for today's debate and will have coverage on line and on air this afternoon.
By Scott Friedman
Post time: Apr-24-2019