Irving—The Irving Convention Center hosted the Lucky Leaf Expo, a hemp conference that showcased various facets of business surrounding hemp, CBD, and cannabis, July 9-10.
The event featured 41 speakers, over 150 exhibitors, a hemp museum, live cooking demos, business courses, and networking.
In 2018, the federal Farm Bill legalized the commercial production of hemp and authorized states to submit state plans to administer hemp programs.
Bill 1325 was passed into Texas law June of 2019,which authorized the production, manufacture, retail sale, and inspection of industrial hemp crops and products. It also included products for consumable hemp products that contain cannabidiol (CBD) as well as other edible parts of the hemp plant.
The hemp licensing and permit application process opened in Texas in March of 2020, so the industry is burgeoning state-wide.
While cannabis is not currently legal in Texas, everything listed in the above two bills is, as are delta-8, delta-10, and medical marijuana for qualified patients. A bill passed in the state in May expanded eligibility for medical marijuana.
“Delta-8 is a point of entry for consumers to gain access to something that offers similar or close to the same therapeutic potential [as marijuana], whether it’s anxiety or pain relief, or whatever their application is that they’re using it for,” said Ashley Dellinger, CEO of The Hemp Collect.
“If we’re going to use a language people are familiar with, CBD is beer. Then D-8 and CBD combinations might be more like a glass of wine, or a straight D-8 might be a glass of wine for somebody who has high tolerance. Delta-9, THC cannabis, [is the] tequila shot, and sometimes you want that strength. Sometimes you don’t. There are definitely applications for each of them, and there are different consumer tolerances.
“I’m a person who does get anxiety from cannabis consumption. I still like it, but it does have some adverse effects for people including brain fog and other things. For that reason, there are a lot of people that prefer D-8 or CBD.”
“I would say CBD or hemp can calm people down,” said Joel Thompson, an operating partner of The Hemp Collect.“It puts me in ‘the un-mess-withablemiddle.’A calm place that’s more mellow, but it’s not intoxicating. That’s how I like to look at CBD; it has an effect, but it is not intoxicating.
“The issue [with marijuana legalization] is that it is federally scheduled, federally prohibited. Whereas these other things fall under the hemp bill, which puts them in a different category. [Marijuana legalizationin Texas requires] a state-level referendum, where Texas says, ‘We’re going to go against the federal [statute] here. We’re going to legalize delta-9 THC [traditional cannabis].’”
“There’s a lot of policy, organization, and infrastructure needed to execute that properly,” Dellinger said. “There’s a lot of public opinion and things tied into that. Politicians want to make sure it’s the popular thing, and that everyone’s going to benefit from that change.
“We’ve been talking with a few people that are more active in policy and have connections that don’t see that happening anytime soon.”
In May of 2021, a House Bill that would have made delta-8 illegal in Texas was struck down in committee, keeping it legal.
The prohibition of marijuana in the U.S. has created a number of unforeseen consequences, which have affected a number of countries.
“By keeping marijuana on the black market, it’s not stopping anyone using it,” Chris Fontes, CEO of Trojan Horse Cannabis, said. “All it’s doing is promoting cartels,and putting money in their pocket, and creating a violent industry. I think we absolutely have a moral responsibility to legalize it.
“Let people grow their own. If you need it for some medicinal reason, you can grow it in your backyard for so cheap. Instead of having to go buy it. We’re doing all American citizens a disservice by not letting them have access to something that literally grows in the ground that can make a huge difference in their daily lives.
“There are a lot of studies out there that are easily findable that talk about the efficacy of cannabis use for chronic pain, arthritis, insomnia, and a lot of other things,” Fontes said.“What we sell here is the same delta-9 THC that exists in marijuana in the normal quantity, but it’s a hemp product, below 0.3 percent THC, so we can actually sell our product, even in Texas.
“In general, education is really lacking in the industry. It’s not really fair to put that on the consumer, but right now as a consumer, I would encourage people to do a little investigating themselves and try to get educated, because there’s a lot out there. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. Find someone reputable and get educated on where we’re at in cannabis today, and what it might be able to do for you.”
Tyrone Russell is the president of Cleveland School of Cannabis, the only State Approved Career School for cannabis education east of Colorado.
“Providing people access to medicine is the number one thing for me,” Russell said. “Not getting in the way of people being able to access it when they need it. There’s always a story that someone has like, ‘My wife was so against it. And these pills wouldn’t work, and she kept taking more pills. Then I asked her to try cannabis, and she’s using that now and she says it’s going so much better for her.’ I’m like, ‘Why can’t we give all people that opportunity?’ Why are we forcing them to try this way when there’s another option for her, that isn’t going to kill? Cannabis isn’t going to kill them.If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t kill you. If opioids don’t work, you do more, and try other stuff, and that stuff does kill you.
“States need to be thinking differently about medical use, and that’s what I tell people. We’re not talking about recreational use, we’re talking about people accessing medicine. You’ve seen the opioid crisis in your backyard. You’ve seen what that can do. Let’s make decisions that help us tighten up the cannabis industry and get those people what they need, so we’re not losing people to silly overdoses that could have been prevented.
“I think every state should legalize at least medically. Giving people options for medicine is really important. There’s absolutely no reason to keep it illegal if you build a solid infrastructure.
“It really matters how the state sets up the program,” Russell said. “That’s going to determine how the program works out and what happens after that the state’s legislation: the programs they institute, the initiatives that they add to it to make it better. Then the leadership that gets involved with it is going to determine what it looks like.
“Sixty percent of people say [marijuana] should be legal for adult use, and then 70 percent say absolutely for medical, all the way up to 91 percent depending on the poll. Ninety-one percent of the people who took a poll from Quinnipiac national poll, say medically, we should make this legal.
“[In states that legalize] it always, always,always does them well on tax revenue. It never, never fails. Even through the pandemic, while other industries are going down, cannabis is going right up- and we’re talking about medical-only states. It wasn’t like people were just saying,‘You know what, it’s recreation, or I’m bored,’ we’re talking about medical states where people were like, ‘I’m going to take my medicine.’”
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