The “green rush” has arrived in San Antonio.
That was the takeaway Wednesday at a Geekdom-hosted panel where cannabidiol entrepreneurs gathered for an education session on the emerging industry.
The downtown Geekdom Event Centre typically draws techies to its programming, but the panel attracted perhaps a different crowd. About 60 attended the event and packed the room.
Rick Martinez, a registered nurse, founded Green Seed Cannabis Co. with the aim of helping to cultivate a cannabis startup scene in San Antonio.
Martinez asked the attendees Wednesday to raise their hands if they were interested in launching a cannabis business venture, and several hands went up. Most of the crowd raised their hands when asked who was interested in simply learning more about the nascent industry.
“This is the epicenter of all things cannabis in this industry – this city,” Martinez said. “These are the people who are shaping the marijuana/cannabis movement from this day forward.”
Marijuana, which is mind-altering, and hemp, which is not, both belong to the cannabis genus. In Texas, the industrial production of hemp became legal as of June 10, when Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1325 into law.
Hemp, which contains less than 0.3 percent THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, is used to make sustainable products such as clothing and can be used as a green alternative to plastic packaging. But an increasingly popular use is the consumption of cannabidiol, or CBD, which is believed to have medicinal properties – without the THC-induced high of marijuana.
However, the U.S. agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration are still studying the science, safety, and quality of CBD products.
The panelists – including local CBD entrepreneur Charles Rodkey – are hopeful the State government will enact legislation that will further introduce legal ways to sell cannabis-related products.
“We can see the temperature on a lot of the State [representatives] is starting to change because of the work we’re doing to change minds,” Rodkey said. “Hopefully the laws will follow soon behind.”
The Texas Legislature also passed House Bill 3703 during the recent legislative session. That legislation allows physicians to prescribe low-THC cannabis oil to patients with neurodegenerative diseases, adding to a list of eligible conditions that included only intractable epilepsy when the law was enacted four years ago.
But for cannabis advocates throughout the state, the next step to progress is decriminalizing possession of marijuana, even when used for recreational purposes. Current laws, for example, allow people who smoke legal hemp to be arrested on suspicion of marijuana possession.
It’s a challenge that some users of hand-rolled hemp cigarettes, such as the ones prepared by Emjayze Hemp, face when they consume publicly, said Amos Lozano, the company’s founder.
“It’s a tricky thing right now because of the transition we’re in and because of the state of the industry,” Lozano said.
Elsewhere, Sensi Magazine, a cannabis lifestyle magazine, is launching a San Antonio edition in October, which will be the magazine’s first in Texas. The publication is free and will be available in 400 distribution points in the city, said Meredith Keller, associate publisher.
It’s education and resources that will push the growth of the local cannabis sector even further, Green Seed’s Martinez said.
“No more baby steps,” he said. “It’s time to push and push hard.”