As the landscape of the legal cannabis market in Texas continues to change, industry education and a reliable network are two things any business needs to survive and thrive. Texas cannabis companies had the opportunity to explore both topics in greater depth at the second annual Texas Hemp Convention at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center November 20-21.
Since hemp legalization in 2019, Texan farmers and retailers have faced unique challenges that they may not have been prepared for, but the Convention gives them the opportunity to be as prepared as possible for the unexpected.
Legalities aside, Texas is already a cannabis grower gamble. One of the most overwhelming losses in Texas came from Matagorda County, where fourth generation farmer Troy Owen planted 500 acres of hemp plants twice during the 2019 growing season and lost both crops to the Texan climate. It was a six figure loss for Owen and his team. On the retail side of the industry, local CBD stores often close due to lack of industry knowledge, poor quality products, and an inability to attract customers.
We can talk about the oversaturation of products and hemp retail stores, but the revenues show that the CBD industry continues to thrive. In 2020, sales of CBD products in the United States grossed an estimated $ 5 billion, and that number is projected to reach nearly $ 17 billion by 2025 through networking and soaking up as much industry knowledge as possible.
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A key difference between the 2019 and 2021 Texas Hemp Convention was the number of Texas-based hemp companies representing the state at this year’s event. Texas had no brands of hemp a few years ago, and roughly half of the brands featured at the show were from Texas.
Chase Nobles, CEO and co-founder of Kush.com, the world’s largest hemp trading platform and the brand behind the Texas Hemp Convention, said the show will be used to create a live marketplace and a physical representation of the networking and business going on each day on kush.com.
“We serve tens of thousands of sellers and buyers every month,” said Nobles. “And being able to bring all of these great vendors here and meet them all in person, shake hands with them and see how they’re doing is really important for the market to build the community.”
More than 56,000 registered wholesalers and buyers use kush.com’s platforms to scale their business.
“What happened when we had the first hemp convention in Texas, Texas had just legalized hemp, so anyone thinking of starting a business came to the Texas hemp convention,” said Nobles. “And you come back a year and a half later and now these people have started businesses, and that’s what you’re seeing here now, and that’s the strength of what we’re trying to do to give people the environment to get the information.” You have to either start, scale, find suppliers and build the business they want to build. ”
Dallas-based companies CBD Farm House, Oak Cliff Cultivators, and Pretty Rolls had booths set up and looked like they’d been in the business for a decade. Other local brands such as Royal Hemps and Roach & Bud had their logos on sponsorship materials throughout the convention center and on every bag distributed to attendees.
But it was Horn Creek Hemp who stole the show by finishing first in the 2021 High Times Hemp Cup. The Oregon-based family farm had exceptional flowers and the awards to back them up. Her sun-grown lifter strain beat second-placed Papaya Nights, which was grown indoors. They also won several prizes for first place in the Cultivation Classic 2020, where their product listings go through a more complex rating system. The judges were given CBD and THC samples to test, but were not told whether what they were testing was CBD or THC. The jury gave the Horn Creek hemp flower first place over varieties with a high THC content.
Many consumers believe that indoor flowers have stronger effects, but that’s not always the case. Some of these ideas come from indoor growers who are able to control the exact amount of water and artificial sunlight the plants need, as opposed to sun-grown flowers, which have a relationship with nature that is full of ups and downs .
Some factors that put outdoor plants at risk are damage from natural weather, pests and mites eating plants, and the possibility of cross-pollination from neighboring farms, which will drastically lower the value of the flower after harvest. But with the right system and weather conditions, and a little luck, growers can produce high quality, sun-grown nugs that can rival indoor plants.
Despite their sun-grown success, Horn Creek Hemp owner Paul Murdoch said he and his family will grow and harvest hemp in greenhouses.
“You can make outdoor really high quality, you just have to be careful and be a little lucky because there is weather,” said Murdoch. “The challenges with consumers are all they know is the greenhouse [and indoor] is better, but they couldn’t really compare it. ”
One of the most creative hemp companies was Nebraska-based Hemp3D, which uses hemp fiber and a three-dimensional printer to make hemp vases, hemp sunglasses, and a hemp chess game, among other products on display at the convention. Hemp fibers are extremely environmentally friendly and versatile and can be used in a variety of industries such as clothing and construction. Hemp3D focuses on lifestyle products and will soon have enough hemp items to completely furnish a room in a home.
Texas A&M students who are part of the university’s hemp breeding program attended their research. They spent the weekend educating participants about the program and the nature of their research. Texas A&M is one of the few universities in the country with a school-accredited hemp program.
“Hemp has had a really bad rap for a long time and that’s unfortunate.” – Student Olivia Lesnick
The school specializes in hemp breeding and engineering techniques that will help improve the quality of hemp grown by farmers in Texas.
“We’re breeders, so we want to make varieties for everything,” said Ezekiel Soto, a doctoral student on the program.
The students send their seeds to five different laboratories to test them. The students then use this data and dive back into genetics to find ways to better adapt the seeds to Texas growing conditions.
Olivia Lesnick, an engineering student at Texas A&M, said getting the right information is extremely important to the program and the Texas cannabis industry itself.
“Hemp has had a really bad rap for a long time and it’s unfortunate,” she said. “There is so much that can be done to help people, so our aim is to educate people about its real benefits and get rid of some of these internet science claims.”
The direction in which the cannabis market in Texas will develop is yet to be decided, but experts from the Texan industry continue to fight for more extensive programs and regulations.
A seller with the goods at the second annual Texas Hemp Convention.