CANNAINVESTOR Magazine February / March 2017 - Page 106

Most Texans are surprised when they hear we passed a law in 2015 creating the medical marijuana industry in the Lone Star State. Many media outlets in the state have been remarkably quiet leading up to the launch.

So people are even more surprised these days when I say that on February 23rd, the Texas Department of Public Safety will begin taking the first applications for dispensing organizations. For a state whose Patron Saint has long been the greatest American songwriter, Willie Nelson, it seems marijuana has arrived.

Yet hopeful business owners and angel investors are at a disadvantage before the first seed is ever planted. When TDPS opens the application process, for only three initial licenses, they'll be asking a hefty price tag of $814,387* in registration and renewal fees over the first three years. What's more, the final announcement of these fees isn't scheduled until February 22nd, the day before TDPS starts taking applications.

The original fee was a mere $6,000, with another $6,000 upon renewal. In October 2016, TDPS proposed a new $1.3 million increase per license. Their justification included a commissioned state trooper at each site, and over $300,000 in technology and software updates.

Public outcry followed the announcement, at least from the few who knew about it. Then on January 13, 2017, the agency announced revised proposed numbers, including an initial $488,520 registration fee, and a renewal of $318,511 after two years. Application and registration fees made up the rest.* The new number was said to reflect the removal of the two largest expenses, the same ones used to justify the proposed increase in the first place.

My concern is as valid as anyone else's. I'm one of the many people who've spent the last year risking my career and burning through resources to be part of the Texas cannabis industry. I started attending seminars and conferences in late 2015, attending webinars, visiting grow operations and conducting interviews with industry thought-leaders, advocates, patients and policy makers.

I've logged more than my 10,000 hours in an attempt to be part of the industry in my home state, where I have a family. As someone with a stake in how the industry is created, someone hoping to be part of an executive team--or even just a trimmer at this point, I'm anxious as the application date approaches.

Because since January of last year, I’ve met dozens of other bright entrepreneurs mobilizing, risking careers, and spending hard-earned capital.

Many industry hopefuls have already made substantial investments—money, resources, time—in Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston. It takes time and money to create a business, even one for an industry that doesn’t exist.