Medical Marijuana Finds an Unlikely Home in a Tiny Texas Town

Schulenburg is a town with less than 3,000 residents and a polka museum. Now, it will be home to one of Texas’ first medical marijuana dispensaries.

Schulenburg is a quiet, conservative town with fewer than 3,000 people. In September 2017, a company based out of Florida called Knox Medical made it the home for an emerging medical marijuana industry. They purchased a farm and now own three newly licensed cannabis shops in Texas.

Knox Medical will begin their operations by selling products containing cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound of the marijuana plant that can be isolated through streamlined processes. Schulenburg, complete with painted churches and the Texas Polka Museum, will be one of the first legal operations for medical marijuana in Texas.

medical marijuana texas
A painted church in Schulenburg, Texas. Via Anthony SVAJDA

No Rush to Embrace Medical Marijuana

However, this new identity is not something all residents are swooning over. Officials quickly pointed out that future greenhouses and dispensaries are off limits.

Even Kristopher Emola, the cultivation manager for Knox Medical, has learned to keep his cards hidden when it comes to talking about growing weed in Schulenburg. He says,

“It’s one of those things that has been so stigmatized for so long, that it’s natural to question it initially.”

However, if small towns like Schulenburg can overcome that stigma, they represent perfect entry points for an exploding medical marijuana market. Especially in a largely conservative state. Fayette County Judge Ed Janicka seems to be on board. He asks,

“If it helps people and it doesn’t hurt anything, why not do it?”

Economic Impact of Medical Marijuana Unclear

With federal intervention looming overhead, and Sessions stirring up a storm, it is unclear whether medical marijuana will play a significant role in Texas’ economy. Even with a country-wide push (30 states and the District of Columbia have legalized some form of cannabis), Texas has distanced itself away from any state-sanctioned cannabis, simply because the culture in the southern state does not support it.

In fact, the only reason the plan is becoming viable now is because CBD extraction focuses on the non-psychoactive properties of the plant. CBD is mostly used for pain, inflammation, and treating patients suffering from conditions such as PTSD or seizures. Recreational use of CBD in Texas is very unlikely especially after the passage of the Texas Compassionate Use Act in 2015.

The Texas Compassionate Use Act specifically limits the use of low-THC cannabis to patients with intractable epilepsy

Medical Marijuana is Low Risk

All stigmas aside, University of Houston Economics professor Dietrick Vollrath still believes it offers an economic opportunity for the town. He says medical marijuana is generally a low-risk business. In addition, the town didn’t even need to offer incentives to get Knox Medial to base its operations in the state. He says,

“For a small town that may not have many other opportunities for growth, this may be the right move,”

He goes on to say: “Once you’re the first, the natural fit would be to expand the business from there. There’s no reason it has to be Schulenburg versus anywhere else in Texas, but if it becomes the marijuana capital of Texas, why not?”