an elevated take on CBD, THC products

During those early days of the pandemic, the young company in the Lawndale/Wayside neighborhood nurtured connections with customers through curbside pickups of various legal CBD, THC and other cannabinoid products that now greet visitors with radiant colors: a refrigerator with red hibiscus and blue raspberry THC drinks on the right; a rainbow of gummies and cereal bars on the left. The wall of hats and t-shirts and a speakeasy-inspired bar with bud-filled bottles suggest a design ethos and intent to set the space apart from the slapdash vape and smoke shops prevalent around the city.

“Some places around town feel sketchy,” says co-owner Adanary Jacques. “We try to create a more welcoming space here.

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“The pandemic made things difficult, but it also afforded us the opportunity to connect with our clients. There were connections on a human level. Those are our regulars.”

Edibles at Urban Flower, a CBD and THC dispensary in Houston on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022 in Houston. The company hopes to expand its product lines as state laws evolve.

Edibles at Urban Flower, a CBD and THC dispensary in Houston on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022 in Houston. The company hopes to expand its product lines as state laws evolve.


Elizabeth Conley/Staff photographer

THC beverages for sale at Urban Flower, a CBD and THC dispensary in Houston on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022 in Houston. The company hopes to expand its product lines as state laws evolve.
THC beverages for sale at Urban Flower, a CBD and THC dispensary in Houston on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022 in Houston. The company hopes to expand its product lines as state laws evolve.
Elizabeth Conley/Staff photographer

Edibles at Urban Flower, a CBD and THC dispensary in Houston on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022 in Houston. The company hopes to expand its product lines as state laws evolve.

Edibles at Urban Flower, a CBD and THC dispensary in Houston on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022 in Houston. The company hopes to expand its product lines as state laws evolve.


Elizabeth Conley/Staff photographer

Edibles at Urban Flower, a CBD and THC dispensary in Houston on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022 in Houston. The company hopes to expand its product lines as state laws evolve.

Edibles at Urban Flower, a CBD and THC dispensary in Houston on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022 in Houston. The company hopes to expand its product lines as state laws evolve.


Elizabeth Conley/Staff photographer


Edibles at Urban Flower, a CBD and THC dispensary in Houston on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022 in Houston. The company hopes to expand its product lines as state laws evolve. (Elizabeth Conley/Staff photographer)

Which explains why some visitors to the boutique dispensary are greeted by name. One regular, Randy, brought a container of homemade gumbo for the staff. 

This week, representatives from the Urban Flower Company will welcome guests at a booth at the Creative Industries Expo at South By Southwest in Austin. The lone representative from the cannabis industry last year, the Urban Flower — which has its brick and mortar location off the Gulf Freeway at Wayside — will see more company this year. And despite opening during a catastrophic time for businesses, Urban Flower celebrates its third anniversary with expansion plans on the north side of Houston later this spring. 

Jacques clearly states that her company makes no medical claims about its products. Nevertheless, she sees patterns among her clientele. Many of her regulars frustrated with chronic pain, PTSD, anxiety and insomnia haven’t found relief through the health care system.

Urban Flower co-owner Adanary Aranda sits inside the CBD and THC dispensary in Houston on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022 in Houston. The company hopes to expand its product lines as state laws evolve.
Urban Flower co-owner Adanary Aranda sits inside the CBD and THC dispensary in Houston on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022 in Houston. The company hopes to expand its product lines as state laws evolve.
Elizabeth Conley/Staff photographer

Sold items are bagged at Urban Flower, a CBD and THC dispensary in Houston on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022 in Houston. The company hopes to expand its product lines as state laws evolve.
Sold items are bagged at Urban Flower, a CBD and THC dispensary in Houston on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022 in Houston. The company hopes to expand its product lines as state laws evolve.
Elizabeth Conley/Staff photographer

A bud tender at Urban Flower chats with a regular in the Houston store on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022 in Houston. The company, which sells CBD and THC products hopes to expand its product lines as state laws evolve.
A bud tender at Urban Flower chats with a regular in the Houston store on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022 in Houston. The company, which sells CBD and THC products hopes to expand its product lines as state laws evolve.
Elizabeth Conley/Staff photographer


Urban Flower co-owner Adanary Jacques inside the CBD and THC dispensary in Houston on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022 in Houston. The company hopes to expand its product lines as state laws evolve. (Elizabeth Conley/Staff photographer)

“We have a cancer survivor who still deals with insomnia and panic attacks,” Jacques says. “We have veterans dealing with pain, PTSD, anxiety. Our customers have been looking for care and compassion.” 

Here, some explanation may be in order regarding marijuana laws in Texas and the United States and a more detailed accounting of what the Urban Flower Company sells. Texas law makes possession, manufacturing, sale and distribution of any amount of marijuana illegal, which the state points out is “in line with the federal government.” Marijuana finds itself in rarified air as a Schedule I substance according to the Drug Enforcement Agency, sharing space with heroin, LSD, ecstasy and, for desert dwellers, peyote. The classification system went into effect in May 1971.

THC wax for sale at Urban Flower, a CBD and THC dispensary in Houston on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022 in Houston. The company hopes to expand its product lines as state laws evolve.
THC wax for sale at Urban Flower, a CBD and THC dispensary in Houston on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022 in Houston. The company hopes to expand its product lines as state laws evolve.Elizabeth Conley/Staff photographer

Hydrocodone is an example of a Schedule II drug; ketamine is Schedule III; Xanax is Schedule IV; Robitussin AC is Schedule V.

President Biden last year said he will ask the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services to review marijuana’s classification under federal law.

Texas has made narrow space for low-THC cannabis for certain medical conditions, though nothing like Oklahoma, which by vote approved medical marijuana five years ago and now is home to nearly 3,000 dispensaries. An estimated 10 percent of Oklahomans have cards that permit the purchase of medical marijuana. But an attempt this month to legalize recreational marijuana in the state failed resoundingly, with roughly 62 percent of voters against it. 

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. Such change in Texas isn’t likely to come soon. 

“As long as Greg Abbott is governor, you’ll never see legalized recreational,” says radio show producer and host Dean Becker, a drug policy expert and Baker Institute fellow. “It just won’t happen.”

So battle lines remain in place on the issue, particularly in Texas. Only Jacques doesn’t see it that way.

“This is not a battle,” she says. “I’d rather educate than fight. I’d rather work with the state than continue arguments that have gone on for years. But that’s why we have the speakeasy theme. It feels like we’re having the same discussions as during the 1920s, during Prohibition.”

Her complaint that “there are so many different regulations state by state” reflects a nation in transition on the issue with a cohesive national policy seemingly inevitable but hardly imminent. This, despite a Pew Research poll conducted last October that found that 88 percent of U.S. adults say marijuana use should be legal for medical use, with 59 percent supporting both medical and recreational use.

A Gallup poll conducted around the same time found 68 percent of U.S. adults in favor of legalization. That figure is up from 12 percent around the time the classification system was put into place more than a half century ago.

Amid such change, the Urban Flower Company has tried to position itself for a long future with deliberate branding at a time when smoke shops often appear to slink away from notice. Still, Urban Flower is not one of the rare state-authorized medical dispensaries, which begs the question, what are the products that greet visitors when they enter the store? 

Cannabidiol (CBD) products are non-psychoactive and derived from either marijuana or hemp. The Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) products skirt Texas law because they’re derived from hemp plants, not marijuana plants – both of which are from the same Cannabis genus. The FDA has also determined Delta-8 THC to have psychoactive effects. Delta-8 has had a twisting path thus far. Its low THC content kept it legal under a 2018 federal farm bill. Three years later, Texas Department of Health and Human Services placed it on a list of illegal drugs. The ban was short-lived: in November 2021, a district judge in Travis County ruled against the health officials.

So Delta-9 and Delta-9 products line the shelves of Urban Flower, fruit-flavored drinks, Cheeto-type snacks, cereal bars. There are numerous CBD products, too, like shampoos and oils, tinctures and chews for anxious pets.

“It takes a lot of curating,” Jacques says. “We study what people are buying in other states and are trying to find their counterparts here. We get feedback from our customers. Our job is to listen to them.”

Perfectly on queue, Erica a young regular with a shock of green hair, walks in and shares hugs with the staff.

“The tres leches cake,” she says. “When will you get more of that?”

andrew.dansby@houstonchronicle.com

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