AUSTIN – Texans with epilepsy may not be buying legal cannabis oil here until 2017, but home-grown entrepreneurs are already lining up for a cut of the mainstream marijuana business.
If there’s any doubt about their belief in marijuana as a medical remedy, five words underscore their seriousness: Texas Cannabis Chamber of Commerce.
The group is one of several – others include the Texas Cannabis Industry Association, Christians for Liberty and the Med Can Foundation – with meetings this weekend in Austin to address the state’s budding, legal marijuana trade.
A recent seminar by the Texas Cannabis Chamber of Commerce in Arlington drew 112 people, said Jonathan Villagomez, one of its founders.
“The opportunities are endless in this industry,” he said. “There are so many ways to profit.”
Heather Fazio, of the Marijuana Policy Project, cautions that the limited scope of Texas’ compassionate care law will limit opportunities for making big money.
Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law in June that allows for the limited use of non-intoxicating cannabidiol oil, extracted from marijuana plants, for patients with epilepsy. The law calls on regulators to approve at least three dispensaries by September 2017.
An estimated 150,000 Texans with epilepsy may be the only ones to initially benefit from the law, but Chris Miller, a Weatherford investor who attended the Arlington conference, said that’s clearly just the start.
“Anybody can see the wave coming,” said Miller, 42, who said he’s following the state’s still-developing rules for obtaining licenses to grow, manufacture and dispense cannabidiol. “It’s only a matter of time before Texas legalizes it.”
Miller said he has $500,000 to invest and is looking to set up a dispensary.
“I have a partner. I have a banker. I’ve lined up an attorney. I’m setting myself up to be in the running from the get go,” he said.
Miller also wants to be a grower.
“I can tell you anything you want to know about it, and then some,” said Miller, who has been a teacher and worked in a medical device startup.
Many others are involved in the green gold rush, including some at the fringes of the budding industry.
An example is Tony Gallo, a security consultant who lives in North Richland Hills, near Fort Worth, who said he works with legal marijuana clients from Washington state to New Jersey.
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