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Texas Matters: Reining in Delta-8; Mexico's water debt; recovery efforts after the storms in North Texas

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This week the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs held a public hearing to examine products like Delta-8 and Delta-9, which are hemp products that produce an intoxicating high. These products are legally sold in Texas but Texas Public Radio’s David Martin Davies reports that could change in the coming legislative session.

The U.S. market for Delta-8 THC and other hemp-derived cannabinoids has increased a whopping 1,300 %in just the last three years. It shot up from $200 million dollars in sales 2020 to nearly $2.8 billion in 2023, according to the analytics firm Brightfield Group.

In Texas where legal cannabis is not available, the hemp-based products Delta-8 and 9 are. It’s a market that is largely unregulated. The gummies, vape juice and smokables are being sold in specialty shops, corner convenience store and even in vending machines.

A Texas Senate Committee heard the story of Veronica Rios, who said her son is addicted to THC products. Rio begged the lawmakers to find a way to ban THC.

Susan Hays is an attorney who works in regulating cannabis products said Texas laws are outdated.

But Hays said there are many people who use these products for their medical benefits because the Texas compassionate use program doesn’t work.

Dr. Matthew Rossheim at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth’s School of Public Health has written multiple papers on derived intoxicating cannabis products. He told the senators these products are being marketed directly at children.

He said it’s impossible to know right now what all the negative health effects are for children using THC and it’s impossible to regulate because the industry stays one step ahead of the laws.

Rossheim said there needed to be a comprehensive ban on all cannabis derived intoxicating products.

Mexico’s Water Debt

As the drought continues in South Texas the political rhetoric about Mexico’s water debt is heating up. Recently the nine-member Rio Grande Valley legislative delegation sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken to express its “deep concern” over Mexico missing water deliveries to the United States.

The water situation in the Rio Grande Valley is getting dire. It’s one of the richest farming areas of Texas. The climate allows for raising crops year-round. But with less water available to irrigate the agriculture industry is running dry.

And the leaders are pointing their fingers of blame at Mexico for not complying with an 80-year-old treaty governing water use in the Rio Grande.

Martha Pskowski is a staff reporter for Inside Climate News and is covering the story.

Storm Recovery

While parts of Texas remain in drought other areas are being hammered with severe storms, high winds and tornados. In North Texas communities in the path of last weekend’s devastating tornadoes are just beginning to assess the damage they left behind. Deadly storms ripped through North Texas last weekend killing at least seven people and injuring about 100 others. The small town of Valley View, near the Oklahoma border, was hit especially hard.

KERA’s Elizabeth Myong reports on how residents there are dealing with the aftermath.

Military Sexual Abuse 

Earlier this year, the military began implementing a new system to deal with sexual harassment and abuse cases. Those cases are now investigated by an independent panel, rather than by the alleged victim's commanders.

Advocates say they're already seeing the effects, though some say service members still are afraid of retaliation and lack trust in the process.

TPR's Gabriella Alcorta-Solorio reports.

This story was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans.

Uvalde Remembered

It's been two years since the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. And in that time

The parents of the Uvalde shooting victims have tried and failed to get the Texas legislature to raise the age to buy assault weapons.

KERA’s Caroline Love reports they are preparing for the next legislative session where they will try again.

Goodbye to a school

The students and staff at 13 San Antonio ISD campuses are saying their final goodbyes. The schools impacted by the district’s rightsizing plan closed their doors for good this week on the last day of the school year.

TPR’s Camille Phillips attended the grand finale ceremony for Dorie Miller Elementary on San Antonio’s near East Side.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi