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HB 557, if passed, would modify the Agriculture Code (Chapter 12) related to the growth of industrial hemp for research purposes. Namely, the bill would allow institutions of higher education to grow industrial hemp (defined in the bill) for research purposes and not be subject to certain provisions of the Health and Safety Code related to marijuana. The bill also includes related regulatory changes which would reflect this program.
We are in complete favor of allowing for the production of industrial hemp which has been curtailed since the 1930s. Strictly speaking though, this bill grants a monopoly to institutions of higher learning regarding hemp research. (It should be noted that the bill contains a provision that the cannabis in question must have a THC content at or below 0.03%.) The bill creates a special class in place or the status quo of outright prohibition. A very limited special class, regarding research permissibility, but a special class nonetheless. Nevertheless it would be a step in the right direction if followed up by a complete legalization of industrial hemp production. We are ambivalent about the HB 557 in and of itself, though we agree with the ultimate goal. As such, we are neutral on HB 557.