The Texas hemp industry is booming despite the obstacles faced by Lone Star State entrepreneurs.
That’s the message of the Texas Hemp and Garden Show, which took place on March 13 and 14 in Austin, Texas, at a downtown nightclub near the heart of the popular SXSW festival and not far from the capitol building.
2018 marked the Hemp and Garden Show’s second year, and there were about a dozen different vendors or organizations represented when I dropped in on the second day. Activists helped passersby fill out voter registration cards on the sidewalk, a DJ spun tunes from a small stage outside, and inside a succession of experts spoke about topics ranging from agriculture to the war on drugs. At night, musicians took over for the speakers including a surprise appearance from rapper Lil’ Flip.
“To get the vendors from other states that have legal programs interested in showcasing here in Austin was very exciting,” said Mónica Enriquez, one of the organizers of the event.
Enriquez saw the Texas Hemp and Garden Show as an opportunity to educate locals about this beneficial but misunderstood plant while simultaneously bringing national attention to the state’s burgeoning hemp industry. While Texas hasn’t yet legalized industrial hemp, there are signs of slow progress for cannabis in the region.
‘We’re going to be the best state’: A future for Texas hemp
“A lot of people are surprised that Texas does have a medical marijuana program in effect,” explained Enriquez. “Once upon a time, Gov. Greg Abbott said that would never happen under his tenure so that’s already a very promising sign of some change for us.”
Under the current program in Texas, a very limited number of patients with severe epilepsy are able to access low-THC CBD oil made from cannabis grown in the state, but there’s already talk of expanding the program to include more residents.