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Author: Stacey Lovett

Going to Pot: Film Review

Appropriately enough on 4/20/2021, MTV launched the documentary Going to Pot: The Highs and Lows of It on the streaming service Paramount +. As a lighter infotainment piece, the film touches on the “411 on 4/20” exploring cannabis based accounts throughout it’s history as well as debunks some popular myths and questions one may have about the plant.

Filmmakers and co-producers Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato (World of Wonder Productions) co-directed the 73 minute documentary which is broken up into smaller vignettes of pot-based programming featuring accounts on everything from the history of the 4/20 lexicon to answering questions like “Can I really get a contact high?” into mini-biopics of notable marijuana advocates in pop culture like University of Texas and NFL alum Ricky Williams.

It plays out more like a suburban anti-propaganda education piece than a highly informational look into marijuana but aptly serves its purpose as a documentary showcasing much of the outline of pot FAQs that have generally plagued our popular culture in the past. Not to mention, it’s backed by a strong advisory panel including psychopharmacologists and integrative psychologists, cannabis attorneys, and investigative journalists which lends more credibility to the facts presented to those newer to the matter.

Writer Jim Fraenkel brings a lot of his MTV True Life influence to Going to Pot, following the topic of weed through a brief portrait of its existence andrefiningmore of the impact and positive influence it has had in it’s reintroduction. While a cannabis connoisseur might not gain a lot of new information in the hour-ish view, the featured pot personas show a firsthand glance into the innovation in the industry and where the room for expansion lies with the continuation of positive documentation of cannabis culture such as this.

Flex Payment Solutions

With the nature of CBD and hemp being high risk products in the eyes of the financial world, finding stability and even options in merchant services has not always been an easy feat for retailers in the industry. Flex Payment Solutions offers a personal approach in their dedicated CBD merchant accounts as well as adaptability to business’ processing needs.

A family owned company based outside of St. Louis, MO, Flex Payment Solutions offers credit & debit card processing, ACH, e-check, and fund-to-debit-card solutions while allow retailers a range of savings in both fees and time. Each merchant with Flex gets their own monitored account and ID, unlike many of the mainstream batch-model processors, which allows them individuality no susceptibility to any chargebacks and payment issues that commonly arise in aggregate accounts. This often leads to the entire portfolio being bounced by the bank and a resulting inconvenient disruption in business for the retailer. With this tendency, Flex encourages redundancy to merchants in this space. With a backup processor, they ensure a constant focus on their business.

Flex places focus on the attention to intricacies in the industry, staying informed and transparent among the fluctuating state regulations and new laws. Strenuous pre-vetting and underwriting eliminates many potential issues in the groups they bring on. They understand the nature of the space of CBD and hemp historically and take into account the discord present in review structures throughout the processing spectrum. Compliance is key in both industry regulations and typical business operations. In their vetting process, Flex requires proof of valid licensing, lab testing, and COAs which make the underwriting process a lot longer for this industry but ensures proper observance to the legal standards on both sides. With financials, businesses must show a successful operation of a merchant account in the past and that bank accounts reflect activity and ability to pay their debts.

Traditional ISOs are more widespread but come with more stringent guidelines on what products retailers can process through their services; many have policies against smokables, edibles or Delta 8. Flex Payment Solutions is all encompassing in regards to all hemp and CBD products outside of Delta 10 and HHC which require further education in legalities for banking institutions.

The bulk of Flex’s current clientele are online retailers with a secondary pocket of wholesalers. They are open to helping all facets of the industry including farms, co-ops, and equipment companies as the primary or redundant processor which allows for cheaper pricing based on the specific business model as their commercial nature poses less of a risk than a high volume of daily retail or wholesale orders.

Flex Payment Solutions began with the motivation to aid businesses in the more complex niche industries. They built up relationships with Native American tribes in online lending and business as their initial clientele and added in the branch of CBD not long after the Farm Bill passed as a continuation of their existing model of success that they’ve built. Alongside putting in the effort in vetting and compliance, they provide additional value in their intention, not just being a race to the price. Flex is conscientious on choosing industries where they can provide value with their services offered with a personal approach that has proved a big impact among users.

They remain involved and invested in the industry participating in the US Hemp Roundtable and have grown to have a centralized focus in Texas specifically with a Flex representative based in Houston. With founding members and representation in the Texas Hemp Coalition they do their part to keep the industry as safe and profitable as they can.

Flex Payment Solutions is always willing and available to help those looking to build long term, reliable relationships in their processing solutions and remain focused on growing their programs to meet the current landscape. More information and contacts can be found at

Hydroponics in the Heights

Houston Heights is home to Hydroshack Hydroponics – a full-service hydroponics retailer who prides themselves in the firsthand knowledge they have imparted to their customers over the last 10 years of business.

Sprouting from a small hydroponics start up in the front office of their warehouse, Hydroshack has since grown into the biggest store of their kind in Houston, dealing in high end soils & nutrients, lights, and accessories for hydroponic growing. They deal in primarily indoor grows for all gardening needs but added in hemp as the industry cropped up in Texas. The owner, Chris Powers, always knew some form of legalization would happen in the state and built the company up to be a known entity when that time came.

Following the passing of the hemp bill, his business was revived having been in competition with big online retailers. What sets Hydroshack apart is their solid client base they’ve built and the fact that they have become a destination with their own fully licensed in-house grow operation that serves as a firsthand tool to both learn and teach about growing the crop with hydroponics. They do not grow to harvest but simply provide a live setup of a handful of plants where customers can experience what they sell in a functional setting.

The majority of Hydroshack’s clientele is based in the greater Houston area with about 10% comprised of online retail and customers they draw in from nearby states and other Texas cities like San Antonio and Dallas. As Oklahoma passed legislation to legalize cannabis, their smaller retailers began running out of products and began coming into Texas to restock. It also serves as a hub to their Louisiana neighbors who do not receive as much internal support of the industry and cross over into Texas for a more pleasurable shopping experience.

Indoor grows allow for a more controlled setting and cut out many of the external variables that have led the initial outdoor growing season in Texas to get off to a rough start such as unpredictable weather and terrain, pests, nutrient and pH balance, and varying climate zones affecting the harvest window. Powers and his crew caution new clients with big outdoor grow plans to consider indoor operations as well as start small with 10-100 plants as they’ve seen firsthand the excitement turn big investments into big failures quickly. The team works to teach people how to grow, that there is science behind it, and how to utilize the products they carry to cultivate an operation best suited for their own personal needs.

The two most important factors in an indoor hydroponics grow according to Hydroshack is climate control and lighting, both requiring the biggest investment. Many growers underestimate the importance of temperature and humidity control disregarding seeing the need for mini-splits and dehumidifiers.  The secondary setup decisions like soil type or coco coir, nutrients, pest control, etc. are available in store to most variables and involve more personal preferences behind the choices. The staff at Hydroshack Hydroponics provides knowledgeable consulting to get people started down the right path with growing hemp and building a foundation to create a customer-retailer relationship, not just a sale.

With so many varying methods and opinions on growing as well as such regional diversity in the agriculture, the online case studies do not always fully translate to one particular growing situation. Hydroshack starts from the basics with new clients and custom develops a growing plan based on their own personal needs. The process can get intricate and in the interest of investing in the growth and success of their customers they work not to overwhelm in technique or investment. These relationships often lead to a reciprocal benefit learning directly from customer experiences as well. Powers cautions new growers to be patient and take their time, making sure not to rush into big decisions and big risks; there is plenty of time and opportunity to tap into the cannabis industry and be successful without overstretching and potentially losing everything.

Another thing Powers and his team have found is that farmers tend to have the agricultural background with crops like soy but find transitioning to a flowering plant a bit different as far as the technique, external factors and the market itself. They advise them to start on a manageable, small test environment as well and build on that to grow success. The majority of their clients choose to farm out of a small indoor grow tent and range into standard room sizes to warehouses which they foresee the popularity of exponentially growing when full legalization finally happens.

Transitioning from indoor to outdoor grows is a careful process that involves careful cloning and propagation as well as nutrient balance to get the baby plants sprouted and to size to transfer outside for higher success. In this window in between the transition is where Hydroshack comes in with a lot of their consulting at the next level.

Building and nurturing these relationships has allowed this Houston homegrown business to thrive and continue to support the local grow community with it – an instance of patience and opportunity paying off in their own growth.

Meet JHeart CBD

J Heart CBD is a woman-owned CBD franchise built out of passion and service from the heart of one Austin entrepreneur.

Connie Hurley opened her first location in Cedar Park in August of 2019 after investing in the cannabis industry and discovering the growing market for CBD in Texas. She has since opened another location in January 2021 on North Lamar Blvd and continues to make natural health and wellness her business. With 30 years experience as an entrepreneur in a variety of fields, including a handful of coffee shops and wholesale distribution on the island of Guam, she made the decision to sell off those businesses to relocate stateside and ultimately invest in this other popular plant pouring her heart into helping fill other people’s cups in life through plant medicine.

Her vision for the business has been to provide products and educate consumers on the benefits of CBD and how it improves quality of life for those who suffer with chronic pain, anxiety and sleep issues. Connie takes great pride in vetting all of her 25+ vendors and offering a line of premium products to her customers. J Heart offers a wide variety of tinctures, edibles, smokables, topicals and even a pet line with choices in full spectrum, broad spectrum, isolate and delta 8.

The storefront and staff of J Heart CBD is something else she takes great pride in. With a clean, welcoming space, the business caters to introducing a wide variety of customers to CBD products and the staff is committed to taking time to explain all of the benefits and make an educated decision on the best choice possible for their needs. Employees undergo consistent training and education on all of the up to date research on hemp products so that they are dedicated to providing the utmost service to their clients and all have a passion to help change lives. Another unique feature to the store blends two of Connie’s passions – coffee and CBD. Their in-house espresso bar provides customers with a choice of CBD, or non, brews to purchase while they browse, serving as another comfort of service.

As the general public continues to gain acceptance for CBD and plant medicine, personal anecdotes of success remain the greatest avenue of change that is pushing the industry forward on a larger scale. Connie and her staff always welcome and share personal stories from their clients in their CBD journey and the story behind the name is a touching commemoration for Connie herself of her daughter, Jessica, whom she lost 8 years ago to drug overdose. The path of natural medicine she took following her loss has been in the spirit of her daughter and Connie is currently seeking out local Austin addiction centers to give back to in community involvement in her name through J Heart.

The 2 locations can be found at 908 W. Whitestone Blvd Unit 300 in Cedar Park and 6719 N. Lamar Blvd. in Austin as well as online at

You can hear our Interview with J heart CBD Here:

CBD & Hemp Banking Programs

While the legalization and participation in the hemp industry is growing in the US, the lack of banking support with funding these businesses remain a national issue. Herring Bank is making strides right here in Texas to change that narrative with their CBD & Hemp Banking Program.

Herring Bank is a FDIC insured institution that must adhere with federal, as well as state regulatory requirements.  In banking the Marijuana Related Businesses, Related Entities, Hemp and Hemp Derivative businesses, Herring Bank, if not in compliance with federal and state regulatory requirements, faces the potential of severe penalties.

The bank began serving the Marijuana Related Business, Related Entities, Hemp and Hemp Derivatives industry in April 2019 and has since built a multi-state program that now services over 20 states. Headquartered in Amarillo, Texas, Herring Bank has branch locations in Texas, including Grand Prairie, Vernon, Azle, Clarendon, Seymour, in Colorado (Colorado Springs) and in Oklahoma (Altus).  Herring Bank has also grown outside of their branch footprint to other Texas cities such as Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and McAllen in which to serve the hemp and hemp derivative industry. Herring Bank’s Marijuana Related Business, Related Entities, Hemp and Hemp derivatives strategy has positioned the Bank to take advantage of opportunities that may be available with the passing of any future cannabis legislation.

Andrew Escamilla is Herring Bank’s Hemp and Hemp Derivative Product Manager. With nearly 15 years banking experience behind him, Mr. Escamilla has the knowledge and excitement to assist businesses in obtaining banking services. Herring Bank has, and continues to, learn about and reach out to the industry.    Mr. Escamilla explained that the regulatory/legal environment and the required resources and infrastructure required to support a compliant program. Mr. Escamilla explained that it is important for a bank to understand the industry to know the challenges experienced by industry businesses and individuals, to ascertain the importance of providing a banking service solution as well as identifying the various state compliance requirements the industry must adhere with.

Mr. Escamilla explained that industry clients must provide certain information to the Bank in order to receive access to banking services.  The information provided to the Bank is carefully reviewed by the Bank prior to providing any banking service to a potential client.  The submission of the information is important to ensure that Herring Bank meets its federal and state compliance requirements as well as it allows the Bank to monitor the respective client’s adherence with its applicable state’s compliance requirements.  Mr. Escamilla explained that information prospective clients must submit, includes such things as, information about their respective location(s), the intent of business, type of products being sold, the business structure, business ownership details, supporting documentation such as lab reports on crops, state licensing, etc. 

Mr. Escamilla explained that the Banks willingness to Bank the entire spectrum of cannabis related businesses, of all sizes and types.  Mr. Escamilla enjoys working with and assisting, potential and existing hemp and hemp derivative clients with their banking needs.  Mr. Escamilla believes in staying up to date with what is occurring in the industry and continuing to learn as much as he can about the industry, including the associated federal and state laws that impact the industry.  Escamilla has seen many customers come in who have been closed out 2-3 times by banks before they get to him, just trying to operate but encounter limited tolerance of the industry or simplistic pilot programs that cannot fully support their needs.

Herring Bank paves the way in cannabis related product banking to help the industry.  Herring Bank’s moto is “Building Relationship for a Lifetime”, which is something the Bank lives every day.  Herring Bank would like to establish a relationship with everyone in the hemp and CBD industry.  Mr. Escamilla would love to meet you and discuss what Herring Bank can offer you.

Texas Medical Marijuana Doctors

Lamont Ratcliff and his team are leading the pack in implementing the recent changes of the Texas Compassionate Use Program through a different segment of his practice at Houston area Wellness Pain & Associates clinics. The Texas Medical Marijuana Doctors was birthed 4 years ago out of a desire to become more educated and politicized in the cause and through alignment with the right organizations across the legislative sessions helped shift the conversation in the state and now taking action.

Ratcliff has served as the owner and director of Wellness Pain & Associates for 18 years providing outpatient chronic pain management to patients primarily in motor vehicle accidents and on the job injuries through various modalities. The company grew from 2 employees initially to 16 to include on site physicians, nurse practitioners, licensed physical and massage therapists, and registered nurses to help facilitate medical services in injury rehabilitation for acute injuries. As their ability to offer alternative treatment services grew, so did the practice under their Chief Medical Director Dr. Mark McBath, an oncologist with MD Anderson for over 25 years. Dr. McBath is among one of the first state approved medical marijuana physicians in Texas who can recommend medical marijuana to qualifying patients under the program. Lamont Ratcliff said of the new choice, “we have been very aggressive in  informing patients that they have the power to choose alternative methods to increase their quality of life” and they will be able to do so under his direction next month.

The latest expansions of the T.CUP program that occurred in this year’s legislative session go into effect September 1st which adds qualifying medical conditions to those with PTSD and full qualification for all cancer patients, not just those with terminal diagnoses. This is now in addition to qualifications for those with epilepsy and seizure disorders, autism, Multiple Sclerosis or spasticity, neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, and ALS.

All 3 of his locations – Southwest, metro/downtown, and east side – are booked through October operating 4 day weeks full capacity with limited room available for emergency appointments. Their current patient demographic is about 60% cancer patients, 20% autism, and 20% PTSD with interest coming from far beyond the Houston metro area. As they understand the need for convenience to serve the unrepresented areas of the state, Lamont Ratcliff and his team have worked hard to create a very accessible and fluid process for appointments. Their centralized phone number – (713) 659-HEMP (4367) – is still the best way to obtain an immediate appointment but they also offer additional QR codes and kiosks around the city to not only pre-qualify patients and schedule appointments but educated the public as well. This unique option sets them apart from other physicians allowing a presence for the practice beyond their physical locations.

The group also aims to educate patients on qualifications as well, as many physicians are still very trepidatious with regards to helping qualify for alternative treatments. If the patient already has a diagnosis, TMMD requests supporting documentation from the treating physician. If a diagnosis does not exist, they are trained to ask questions based on the symptoms present and grant qualification where valid for patients needing a more comprehensive diagnosis.

The group also offers extensive continuation of care. The initial visit allows the recommendation with respect to the strain of cannabis best suited to their needs. 6-8 weeks following that is a follow up to review the medication, response to it and any changes if needed and once those are made the next appointment is scheduled in a year.

The T.CUP program is regulated by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Upon entry into the program, the patient receives an official qualifying letter stating that they have been evaluated and that their cannabis use is medically necessary as an alternative treatment. This protects them in any situations where the legality might be otherwise questioned. All of the information is kept in a DPS controlled registry and the patient portal is accessible anywhere needed in a licensed dispute in the state of Texas by law enforcement, or an employer.

The TXMMD team is spearheading this endeavor alongside Lamont Ratcliff in Houston but have plans to quickly expand into 2 offices in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area this October. Ratcliff stresses the need already for politicians to understand the volume of calls from small towns in outlying counties who really need access to this method of care as they are flying in for assistance already. As long as a patient is a Texas resident, no geographic restrictions exist and their metropolitan presence makes that a possibility but they still plan to push for better accessibility in the underrepresented markets for those patients in dire need of an alternative that will work.

“Our main goal is to increase the quality of life of these patients who have already dealt a tough blow in life whether it is cancer, autism, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, ALS, Parkinson’s etc. If we are able to do anything to assist in their quality of life, that is what we are here for.”

As legislation slowly meets education with cannabis reform in Texas, grassroots proponents for this alternative medicine continue to push the gap closer together and bridge the misrepresentation of the many facets hemp and cannabis can bring this great state.

Podcast to Broadcast: Texas Hemp Show

The Texas Hemp Show is moving from podcast to broadcast on Austin’s News Radio KLBJ. Russell Dowden, the show’s host and editor of Texas Hemp Reporter Magazine, teamed up with Dennis Carter to bring the idea to life on Austin’s longest running station to educate Central Texans on all of the up to date information in the rapidly growing hemp industry.

Jesse Williams and Russell Dowden Life from the Lucky Leaf Expo in Dallas Texas.

The show airs every Sunday from 6am to 7am, simulcasting on two different frequencies: the legacy signal 590AM and 99.7 FM as well as available to stream on and all streaming apps. The advantage Dowden saw expanding to the airwaves was a much larger reach as the station has the largest signal in the state reaching over 177k weekly listeners and over 450k streaming sessions. It opens up a new audience in the station’s 35-64 year old professional demographic.

KLBJ Account Representative Dennis Carter is working closely with the show on the radio’s end to help mold it going forward and create opportunities to expand listener-ship and implement the potential to bring on advertisers, sponsors, and industry partners to become involved and capitalize on the show and share in the exposure of this burgeoning industry. “I’m excited about the opportunity working for Russell and taking the Texas Hemp Show to the next level.” Carter added that this is a special addition topic to the station for Central Texas listeners and with the show still in it’s infancy of under a month on the airwaves that there is nothing but opportunity in front of them.

The show is currently pre-recorded with the expectation to move into a hybrid division of the show with occasional live call in episodes and special programming as more listener-ship data and show feedback comes in. They also anticipate opportunities for co- and guest hosts as they will continue well-rounded programming covering all aspects of the industry as the content of the podcast and publication provide.

Tune into The Texas Hemp Show for all up to date news and information as it grows with Texas.

Naturally Hemps: Austin TX

The conversation on Delta 8 has been a continuous hot topic in the state of Texas with many already invested in the hemp-derived product pushing for regulation over prohibition in the vested interest of their companies, the industry and the responsible consumer. Darrell Suriff of Naturally Hemps discussed with Texas Hemp Reporter how Delta-8 and the looming possibility of it’s legal status looks from a company standpoint.

Naturally Hemps is an alternative solutions company under the umbrella of Naturally Distro which operates over 30 retail stores across Texas, Louisiana, and Tennessee to include the Austin Vape and Smoke franchise. The company manufactures a large variety of natural CBD, kratom, e juice vape and legal hemp related products out of their 30k square foot main manufacturing facility in Pflugerville. While they offer a variety of product on their name, Delta-8 specifically makes up about 20% of their gross business over the last 12 months moving into the largest growth category in the industry.

As this time period has also seen a tremendous amount of legislative process on the same topic, Suriff says it has been difficult to gauge business around potential legislation. The fluctuation of legality is costly not only as it comprises 20% of his revenue, but in considering the cost of entry into it as a manufacturer is quite extensive regarding liability, machinery, and wages for his 180 employees which all makes a huge impact on their bottom line.

While Delta 8 is fully legal in Tennessee, constant restructuring and vague state law keep him from selling it into his Louisiana stores. There are no clear cut guidelines currently for Delta 8 in our neighboring state and Texas leads between the two on education and communication between state officials and hemp businesses. While Delta 8 is currently still fits into a legal category following the lack of advancement or changes in the hemp bill last legislative session, it’s status still stands on shaky ground.

States that have fully legalized cannabis are historically the ones who try and ban it most as they get taxation on THC but not off of Delta 8. Right now Texas has enacted the Compassionate Use Program effective September 1, 2021 which allows patients access, through their physician, to prescription low-THC cannabis in the treatment of medical conditions like cancer, autism, PTSD, and seizure disorders. The single operating medical marijuana license holder in the state have been the leaders in the ban on Delta 8 which lead many to question if they will simply see taxation on a state level or full market control. A drastic shift in the industry and lawmaking would not only cause large companies like Naturally Hemps to take a massive hit, but consumers as well as Suriff states, “We believe people have a right to self medicate, treat, or relax [with all variations of hemp derivatives] just as they would in a glass or 2 of wine or beer.” And with that statement backs it with the push for regulation beyond minors into consenting responsible adults.

Darrell Suriff himself knows the firsthand benefits it can bring with chronic pain and the success of his business was built on his own personal success story. A little over a decade ago, Suriff suffered a broken back which led to permanent rods placed in his spine and persistent pain. His corporate insurance plan at the time offered many opioids at his disposal which led to a year-long addiction before he discovered the benefits of Kratom, CBD, and, later, Delta-8. He was able to then craft a daily regimen with these products which allowed him to function without pain and without the use of opioids or any other addictive drugs. From there he built his new endeavor of vape retails stores from an initial $26,000 investment into a $70,000,000 empire based on the products that saved his life – all organically with incremental growth.

With full understanding of the scope of all Delta-8 offers, and standing by what his own business and life is built on, Darrell Suriff hold his position alongside many other Texan hemp product manufacturers and retailers who call to maintain a regulated market on the product for the livelihood of Texans all around.


Hemp Depot is one of the largest providers of the highest quality hemp CBD oil products, seeds, and clones in the US and the extreme care they’ve put into their growth and vertical integration has taken the company to new heights.

Now a complete seed-to-shelf operation, Hemp Depot did not initially set out with this business model in mind when they were founded in 2015. Andy Rodosevich and Luke Pickering, co-founders of the company, set out in the scope of creating and selling CBD but upon beginning to farm their crops they found there were no good seed genetics for cannabidiol. Out of default, they started a project to create genetics to fit the .3 THC limit and fall into the category of industrial hemp. They subsequently found that the extraction process into oil and distillate wasn’t available at that time either which, again out of necessity, led them to build the infrastructure to make their systems work and this soon translated into the manufacturing side as a whole. Their recognition early on that total control of the process allowed for total traceability and that is what has set Hemp Depot apart in the industry.

The company has grown into three farms across Colorado – a hemp seed production and genetics & testing research facility in Yoder, one in Rush, and another farm containing an extractor in nearby Cope just east of Denver. Colorado Springs houses their manufacturing facility and headquarters where they push production and sales. Hemp Depot deals in retail, wholesale, and white label CBD distribution in a range of topical, tinctures, isolates, and soft gels & tablets – all of which are made in their newly expanded 30,000 sq.ft. facility that houses high speed liquid filling machines, dry powder tablet presses, gummy producing equipment, hot & cold fill topical machines, and high speed labeling capabilities. Their commercial line ranges from high end topical and beauty brands, medicinal ingestible pain relief, tinctures and topicals, and a new smokable line that they are preparing to release called ‘Eddie.’ Hemp Depot’s seed sales are also a consistent line of their business offering custom genetics for grow operations.

2020 brought about a lot of change across the board worldwide, and the hemp industry saw some shifting as well. Many new farmers experienced growing pains of going hot in their inaugural season, while others chose not to grow at all following the surplus harvest of 2019. With a 70% reduction of hemp-growing acreage this past season it is estimated that 2021 will mirror that same farming pattern due to the overproduction in the marketplace. With no futures market, some farmers remain reserved about growing hemp and are reverting back to traditional grow crops they’re familiar with as their prices are currently higher in the market, but from a consumer standpoint they benefit in the market. All of which the company takes into consideration in their operations.

Mike Wandzek, Sales Director in seed & genetics and bulk at Hemp Depot, explained that the company’s viewpoint in structuring and conducting business has been pivotal in their success, even in the 2020 pandemic pivot many businesses had to face. “We were on of the companies fortunate enough to have enough vertical integration and enough sales to pull through and I don’t believe we had a single layoff at the company [during the pandemic.] We were able to keep our manufacturing side employed and busy and had preordered enough to keep us going. 2020 was obviously a little bit of an unknown and now that it has passed we’ve come out better and stronger on the other side.”

Hemp Depot continues to reinvest in their business while viewing it from both an industry and consumer standpoint in efficiency and quality and strive to help the CBD industry as a whole more forward with their focus. With a notable list of certifications with their name including Platinum ISO 9001, Kosher and Leaping Bunny, FDA registered, CBPHE, NSF, Colorado Hemp Authority, National Hemp Association, and all hemp authority certifications, Hemp Depot proves to put quality into their products and production and follows through from start to finish.

BioChar Now

The resurgence of hemp production in the US has brought about a lot of new supportive agricultural industry around it – Biochar Now out of Loveland, Colorado has revived a centuries old practice with their multi-patented manufacturing technology to aid in the farming process of this high maintenance crop.

Biochar is a highly adsorbent, specially-produced charcoal with unique properties that is used across a multi-industrial setting in a variety of means ranging from soil reclamation to algae removal programs. With more specialty agriculture, like hemp, increasing in popularity, the benefits of this organic-based solution are being proven to aid with exponentially higher yields in an economical fashion.

The general concept dates back over 5,000 years to the agricultural practices of indigenous Amazonian tribes. Modern technology and political push has reformed it into a suitable ecological alternative for oil & gas, railroad, plastic, concrete, and asphalt companies with EPA compliance and soil amendment. In high value crop production it’s a one-time investment proven to improve the soil, aid in nutrient absorption of the plant, and result in overall increased growth of the crop.

As hemp is a high maintenance crop in terms of maintaining the legal standards of THC, growers need to take into consideration how big a part nutrients play in the growth cycle and quality of the resulting harvest or a crop can quickly go hot. Biochar helps mediate this by binding nutrients from the fertilizer and keeping there at the root zone for the plant to take up when and wherever it needs it. Its high level of absorbency helps structure water usage as well.

Biochar Now’s patented technology converts agricultural and forestry waste into a pure carbon through a process called pyrolysis. This is where the biomass is heated in an oxygen-deprived environment to break down the cells and convert the cellular structure into pure carbon, leaving the part that has special properties which are beneficial to the growth of the plant. These parts bind nutrients, absorb water and release it back to the plant, inviting in microbes to house in it to make a living soil. Growers work the 2-3% of product by volume into the root zone as a “one size fits all” additive that doesn’t affect pH levels. When the fertilizer or manure is added it binds the nutrients and remains there for the plant to take them up when and wherever and prevents the nutrients from washing out into the water table or nearby water sources causing algae blooms. The added benefit of its water retention properties is that it helps structure and decrease water usage by almost half, making it a beneficial choice in drier climates especially. With a 17 thousand year half-life in soil, the product is a one-and-done application and hemp customers see a return on investment within the first harvest, increasing their biomass yields 200-300% in a single season. An added benefit is that it doesn’t require any specialized equipment in the application process as the company provides a variety of sizes they can recommend to fit pre-existing equipment.

Biochar Now prides itself in holding more environmental approvals that any other company in their industry and as the technology is becoming more increasingly used and accepted, they are currently undergoing significant expansion throughout North America to bring this highly restorative product to more industries. As the hemp industry grows, greater efforts towards increased sustainability are being made in grow processes across the board. Biochar Now’s research and technological development towards sequestering carbon emissions and amending both air and soil is revolutionizing industries across the board and ushering in new growth for hemp.

The Story of George Trout: Texan Hemp Pioneer

Texas was not exempt from the hemp propaganda of the early 30’s and leave it to hemp historian and grower, Les Stark, to unearth the truths of one Rio Grande Valley man whose story was lost to the times, a pioneer in the crop lost too soon – the story of George Trout.

Recognizing the golden properties of the sandy loom soil of South Texas and that synergy of the Gulf current breezeway that spun into what had the potential to be the new Indus River Valley, Trout invested a great deal of his own money into a major grow operation and plans for a decortication plant outside Raymondville with campaigns to grow heavy and hard in the area once production began. While the potential of this new crop excited many farmers and citizens who shared Trout’s innovative views of the industry for the lone star state, it didn’t come without resistance.

At the foot of an agricultural and industrial revolution the naysayers – those buying into the widespread hysteria fabricated for it’s demise, born from the threats the mass potential of hemp was having on other industries – did everything in their power to put a cap on it’s growth and sweep the truths under the rug along with the individuals trailblazing it’s way and this absolutely included the endeavors of this Texas man.

The introduction of this quick-to-thrive cash crop was met by immediate demonization and media misrepresentation, pushing all of Trout’s endeavors into the flames with falsely reporting it as a mass marijuana growing operation. Mass resistance began mirroring the mass excitement Trout had worked so hard to build with not only his grow experiments but his conventions with other innovative minds in the use of this wonder crop. With the headlines quickly changing minds outside these circles, a gubernatorial-led ban on hemp immediately followed leading to Trout and other Texas growers having to destroy their crop under the new narcotics laws.

The history of 1930’s cannabis propaganda is nothing new but why do we not know George Trout by name? His identity seemed to quickly disappear with the crop itself and this is where Les Stark’s research into the life of this Texas pioneer has uncovered another plot within.

Underlying systemic issues were brought to light in the firsthand accounts Stark was able to cross reference uncovered news articles with. Alongside Trout’s $100k investment into his endeavors he also invested in educating immigrant and ethnic minority workers in the trade, an action that challenged the racism of the time and most likely aided as a catalyst in the demise of his investment. Personal accounts told  much milder truths to what was reported in the media surrounding the seizure of the crop by Texas Rangers and sadly Trout died just a short time after that occurrence, on his way to plead his case to federal legislature and ironically on the same day the Marijuana Tax Act was put into effect, never having had his story truly told. His name briefly resurrected in 1942, when hemp was revisited in Texas following the Japanese invasion of the Philippines – the US’s overseas supply house – but still not to the level of recognition that his efforts deserved in Texas history.

Les Stark pieced together the past to tell George Trout’s story for the future – the future of the industry he began nurturing far before it’s time to shine and as we embark on this new generation of growth he reminds us to take this account and learn from it, embrace the truths and draw out the same visions that this pioneer brought to light nearly 100 years ago. Take the time to further honor George Trout as he planted the first seeds for this state’s hemp efforts and thank Les Stark for his in not letting this story fade into the historical misrepresentation of this crop.

Mistaking Hemp for Pot

What we Know & What we’ve learned. Growing Awareness with Law Enforcement

As the legalization of cannabis continues to take shape in the state of Texas, licensed growers are slowly finding holes within the system where further educational opportunities can be implemented, and often times it comes in the package of trial and error. Grassroots initiatives are moving in to bridge the gap and bring a wider spread awareness in response and the greater independent industry is recognizing that they only way to combat these growing issues is through transparency of sharing their stories and coming together in the wake of positive change to keep this forward growth moving.

A recent case currently under litigation in North Texas has brought to light some room to educate both law enforcement and growers & transportation services to be cognizant of the laws and licensing put in place to run legal operations and avoid unnecessary conflict due to unpreparedness, especially going into the first harvest season here in the state.

Red River Management Group wants to take their recent experience and share it with the public to cultivate a conversation around both the awareness and changing the perspective of grow operations & transport as this long stigmatized crop becomes more commonplace in interstate transport. The group is a hemp farm just north of Dallas in Bell, TX that provides starts, premium biomass and flowers to Texans, partnering with a curated network of premium partners in the hemp industry to insure dependability management in mitigating any risk involved in the operation. This recent incident, however, spurred the need for their own mitigation when their transport that was in full legal parameters was illegally seized and destroyed despite presentation of their licensed permits to manifest the hemp plants and product for transportation. Ben Von Kennel, CFO of Red River, was directly involved in the incident and wanted to share his case with Texas Hemp Reporter to peacefully encourage education for law enforcement on these issues as well as growers and transportation services in their preparedness and full knowledge of their rights and laws to present to their case should further events like this arise.

One of Red River’s clients required a very specific genetic match for their order and this request could only be filled by one of their partners in Colorado. After flying into Denver, picking up the product and starting the drive back to Texas, Ben was pulled over in Dumas, TX for a minor traffic infraction just before reaching his stopping point for the night. Already a proponent for preparedness – something he advocates to all levels of the hemp operation – he had what he calls his “pull over package” on hand and presented to the officer. This contained every piece of legal documentation and license involved in both their business and this specific order – producers license, handlers license, nursery license, bill of lading, COAs, shipping manifests and invoices – in addition to a negative COVID-19 test just to cover all bases of comfort in these times. Despite this extensive package of documents and his full cooperation on all parts, his delivery of over 1,000 plants and CBD flower were confiscated as he was released to his hotel for the night awaiting his appeal to have all of the paperwork verified and reclaim his property the next day. Upon returning to the Moore City Sheriff’s office to what he expected to be a rectification of the situation, he learned that all of the seized assets were already destroyed for testing.

What was ultimately lost in that shipment was of much more value and further reason to broaden the education on the full spectrum of all the cannabis industry provides. The specific genetics those plants carried was a CBG strain methodically created for ovarian cancer research that their client was undertaking and what resulted in, financially, an $80k loss but obviously much more in what the potential this plant has for the greater evolution. In addition to seeking financial reimbursement, Ben von Kennel just wants to “move forward hand in hand, arm in arm with law enforcement so this doesn’t happen to anybody else, “ and raise awareness that even though we are making strides in bringing this crop and it’s benefits to Texas, we still have a long way to go to educate the public as well as the industry itself.

Awareness lessens assumption and many grow operations are taking the initiative to invite local law enforcement to their farms to introduce to them firsthand what they do and how they legally do it to help aid the flow of the entire process. Adrian Garcia of Garcia Brothers Organics in Big Spring, TX took this proactive approach and sent out a letters & invitations to his local law enforcement to have them come out to their farm and see their licenses and learn about the process firsthand. While Texas battles an added level of conservationism on top of the long-standing stigma against cannabis itself, these fully transparent educational experiences still aren’t always immediately embraced, but the conversation is started and that seed is planted in the operation of widespread awareness. Garcia even experienced an additional benefit to his efforts when his local PD and sheriff’s department extended their own offer to support him with additional security measures should he need it when his crop began to flower. This extension of aid on both sides of the matter is what will change the course of the approach of how this crop is handled going forward.

Red River hopes to join forces further with the TDA to help advocate education “the more people are informed, the more you are ahead of it, the more you are out there, the less a situation like this will happen again.” In addition to the hopes that additional hemp programs will be implemented to equip law enforcement with what they need, Red River is adding in more pathways in their own day-to-day measures to ease the process of providing any and all legal documentation they can by investing in their own onsite testing machine in their greenhouse.

The goal is no division, an all-inclusive legally run operation that will build this state’s commerce and provide so much more for Texans long term. Along the way we’re reminded that we must also nurture awareness and continued education and be open about it all to move forward and use this industry to its highest benefit to all.

Bayou City Hemp

As the state transforms into a whole new level of industry pride with the Go Texan campaign now embracing a ‘Grow Texan’ one, partnerships within the developing hemp industry are cropping up. Bayou City Hemp is one such company leading the way in Texas, becoming one of the original vertically integrated extraction companies for the crop and bringing the highest quality, most reliable cannabinoid products to consumers in the Lone Star State.

Rooted in the energy sector, Bayou City Hemp pairs its knowledge of working in a volatile industry with mirroring the strict regulation standards of oil & gas in the production of Texas’ newest commodity. Backed by a strong board diverse in their experience within that industry, coupled with a deep history in farming, co-founders and CEOs Ben Meggs & Jeromy Sherman recognized the need early on for a full scope analysis of the industry’s supply chain and used their background in the related sector to pinpoint the areas requiring attention to strengthen the cycle from farmer to consumer.

As strong proponents for the medicinal side of hemp and its derivatives, Meggs & Sherman followed the 2014 Texas hemp pilot programs very closely and entered the retail side of it with their acquisition of the Dallas-based CBD retail brand Leaf Life Wellness – a high-end, thoughtfully-formulated skin care and health & wellness line, found both online at and at local and national retailers. The brand is evolving to feature Texas processed oil with Bayou City extracts and stands as a product of their vertically integrated system which will help accelerate the growth and awareness of all Bayou City Hemp can provide as the market rapidly expands in the state.

With their goal of seeing the placement of Texan grown & processed hemp on Texas shelves, Bayou City has formed strong relationships working with hemp farmers in other states learning the growth process and translating it to the local front preparing them for the inaugural harvest this year. As industrial hemp has not been grown on Texas soil since the 1940s, the 2020 crop serves as more of an initial research & development harvest and is not projected to be a large-scale operation for the first season. However, going forward they will be gearing up to receive harvest from farms ranging in size anywhere from 5-40 acres. While advantageous to work with farms of scale, Bayou City Hemp will work to do everything in their power to help any size Texas farmer growing a quality product in the supply chain.

Return of the purest product possible is Bayou City’s intent, striving to be the gold standard in the industry for high-quality reliable hemp product. They have implemented a full scope of services to do so, catering to the farmer from the start of the process. Their software platform allows the farmer to track the progress of the crop and once harvested & dried, the biomass is transported to their facility. Through in-house testing capabilities as well as third party testing agencies, Bayou City Hemp ensures there are no pesticides and that the hemp is within legal parameters for acceptance in the state’s production standards. With the all-natural CO2 extraction process, the farmer’s oil is turned into crude oil, distillate oil, or an isolate powder then returned to the farmer or further refined into a customized product.

As the cannabis industry is still in its infancy, little regulation lies in the production & extraction process. Conditioned in the strict regulatory environment of the oil & gas background, Bayou City Hemp strives to provide a framework and regulations that will help shape the industry and provide a consistent quality product. They are currently in the works to have the facility CGMP, organic, and kosher certified and prides itself in opting for a supercritical CO2 extraction process over the currently-favored ethanol based one. CO2 extraction produces a superior product and is projected to become the preferred industry method. This process eliminates the cross-contamination seen in ethanol-based methods and ensures the purity & consistency in the product. The waste material – raffinate – then is a clean product and has potential as animal feed or soil remediation material over the toxic alternative that ethanol produces.

Just ahead of the inaugural harvest of hemp in Texas, Bayou City Hemp is already making headway in the industry with their solid infrastructure and transparency of that process to educate farmers and other industry leaders along the way to advance the positive growth in hemp. These collaborative efforts within the trade, from other more established states to that of the intrastate supply chain, helps bridge the gap of uncertainty in this field and nurture it together as Texans. 

Going Green: Could COVID-19 Spark Full Legalization for Texans Sooner Than Anticipated?

“Legalize It” has not been an easy song sung by all Texas constituents in the push for complete marijuana reform in the Lone Star State, but many steps have been taken by legislators in the development of industrial hemp production with state licensing opened this past March for potential growers. Many question if the full legalization of cannabis to include marijuana will quickly follow, especially in the wake of mass unemployment and budget shortfalls with the COVID-19 shutdown which challenges the prior pushback of it with the future potential there to really bring in the green.

Should the proposed national SAFE banking act pass in Congress, it would create a “safe harbor” for the financial institutions backing legal dispensary and grow operations operating under state law but not yet backed by federal law. They would not be prohibited or penalized for their affiliation with these businesses, creating the foundation to collect tax revenue from the booming marijuana industry which estimated to have reached $15 billion in sales last year alone. Substantial increases of marijuana sales during the shutdown were reported in states who have already legalized it recreationally and deemed dispensaries essential businesses in the majority of those states. These states are closer to reaping the benefits that potentially mirror the post-prohibition lift of the ban on alcohol which generated a great deal of revenue nationwide, but what does it look like for Texas in the time being?

As one of the leading global growth sectors, cannabis continues to appear on more and more ballots across America and beyond medicinal and recreational use it creates a wider new market opportunity on the non-narcotic side of hemp as an alternative crop for US farmers. Ultimately, the opportunities for this cash crop bringing in the cash are endless, no matter what end of the spectrum of cannabis you may be on. It has the potential to be the future of textiles, construction materials, bio-plastics, fuels, and food for both humans and livestock, all grown on home soil. And as of March 2020 Texans can apply for their license to grow but still await the green light to do so. Experts like the Texas Hemp Growers Association, however, warn those looking to quickly cash in on the cash crop that it’s not going to be an overnight success. There are quite a bit of agronomic requirements and education that will need to feed into all of the legal and regulatory framework currently being put in place. Farmers and growers need to understand and integrate the multitude of economies around this market to cultivate the most success. But that’s not to say it can’t be done, it just needs to be done right. And that’s where Texas legislators and Texas Department of Agriculture have been working alongside federal leaders like the USDA on rulings for state hemp programs and continue to build the infrastructure of it all to benefit the average Texan. New economic growth is on the horizon but is there more untapped potential that could help in the shorter term?

Heather Fazio, the director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy estimated in a recent interview with CBS Austin that “[with potential legalization,] even with modest taxes imposed, the State of Texas could bring in as much as $1 billion. This funding can help fill the budgetary gap created by government shutdowns in response of COVID-19.” But how fast would and could the state even be able to move towards full legalization in hopes to mitigate loss? So far it has met expectations leading up to what directors had projected in the overall hemp plan yet remains a question whether 2020 will see the first crop year for licensees. And, without, would revenue from the hemp alone be enough to revitalize the state? Many questions arise and remain with the full benefit this crop could provide and the terrain is everchanging with the amount of research being poured into it at every level. Economists advise that financial success lies in the proper infrastructure being put into place alongside laws which helps validate Texas’ slow and steady pace, but are we going to need to pick up the stride in this race with recent global economic downturn? It has remained a hot topic on both conservative and progressive tickets and recent socioeconomic changes surrounding the Coronovirus pandemic raise a whole new set of factors to consider in it.

As the push towards decriminalization of it in its entirety continues, it evolves with the needs of the people and as we’re met with an issue that affects us nationally, the potential to reap full benefits of the plant sparks even more of a conversation this season for Texans especially. It has already proven to be a budding industry but the question remains how far will we allow it to bloom?

Green Mountain Flower Co.

When committing to a lifestyle change, the quality of the product and service chosen is everything and exactly what Gene and Elsie Dietrich strive to provide to every client who passes through their door.

The couple own Green Mountain Flower Company – a premier CBD boutique located in North Austin off of 183 and Anderson Mill – and their mission is to curate a personalized experience to your journey into hemp-based healing. When you walk into the doors of their store you’re immediately greeted with tranquility and a welcoming smile. Their products which range from tinctures, edibles, balms, to even raw flower is thoughtfully displayed around the space and available for them to explain the benefits of the product setting you up on a plan with exactly what you need. And that is something that the couple takes time to provide to every customer, a knowledgeable non-judgmental consultation listening to your needs and goals and aligning you with the products that best suit you.

Not only have they made a commitment to their customers but to the industry overall. Following 30 years as a custom home and commercial builder he poured his retirement into growing with the licensed CBD industry as well as the research and development of their own Green Mountain line.

A tremendous amount of effort has gone into developing the Green Mountain Flower Company’s product line and the evidence shows in the resulting quality and many happy customers. Each product has a long story behind it, how each went from just an idea or concept to a finished product now regularly depended upon by many. The CBD Body Balm has such a story, developed from a concept with much trial and refinement to become the highly effective and demanded product it is today.

Customers can stand assured that they’re purchasing quality straight from the source and product ingredients that are carefully and personally chosen by the same people who are selling it. Quality is key with Green Mountain Flower products.

Their CBD Oils are a great example of these facts – the color says it all – it’s not too diluted, not too refined, not too hempy or over flavored. It stands a cut above the average product being sold in retail stores and sets a high standard for boutique blends to be understood and valued more in the mainstream spectrum of CBD. The complementary sample of their tincture proves right there in the store the time and effort put into creating the optimal recipe towards meeting what you’ re wanting to achieve with CBD, and their loyal grassroots grown customer base speaks for the rest.

The Dietrich family doesn’t plan to stop there. They will continue to expand the Green Mountain product line with many exciting additions on the way such as their new CBD Water which they have been working on for over a year. As well as actively expanding their wholesale market.

The skill, will, and desire of the Dietrichs’ dedication to the industry cannot be compared. All they have worked towards in setting the bar so high through their dedication to providing quality products and unprecedented service to new and established CBD users alike opens up a more welcoming educated market to introduce the benefits of it to the mainstream.

Change begins at a personal, local level and requires a real investment that is fueled by passion. Whether it’s helping someone learn what benefits of CBD can bring to their health and lifestyle, educating existing users on the quality of products they choose, or helping revolutionize the industry, Green Mountain Flower Company is a pivotal part of the transformation of truly holistic service.