Katie Neill, a postdoctoral fellow at Rice University, says a medical marijuana industry could create a lot of business in Houston
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Reporter- Houston Business Journal
Texas has seen a buzz surrounding the marijuana bills that face the state’s legislators in the current session.
However, while the bills represent a progressive foot forward in the historically conservative state, that doesn’t mean it’s time to light up, yet.
The Texas bill most likely to pass — although it still has several steps to go — would allow doctors to use low amounts of marijuana to treat epilepsy. That bill, Senate Bill 339, is on its way to the House Public Health Committee. However, while it’s making headway, even if it does pass, Texans won’t see the immediate business impact seen in other states.
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“The passage of that bill won’t create a market of opportunity,” Katie Neill, a postdoctoral fellow in drug policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute, told the HBJ. Rather, it will serve a very niche population of patients.
But should other bills pass, business opportunity could be huge in Houston, Neill said. Ancillary businesses around the industry — growers, dispensaries and suppliers, to name a few — would likely provide millions in tax revenue for Houston.
“It would be a huge market,” Neill told the HBJ. “It would be huge even without Houston’s medical community. Houston being the fourth largest city in the U.S., there stands to be a lot of revenue made by businesses, as well as tax revenue.”
Just the conversation about these laws is a step in the right direction, marijuana proponents say. While it’s unlikely in Neill’s eyes and some of the marijuana advocates in the state that a bill with significant magnitude will come to fruition, the conversation around marijuana will likely force legislators to address the issue more significantly next session.
“What doesn’t get passed, the conversation will continue over the next two years, and it will be difficult for the legislature to ignore,” Neill told the HBJ.
Joe Martin covers quality of life, health care and technology for the Houston Business Journal. Follow him on Twitter for more.
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