Marijuana use may be illegal in Texas, but that isn’t stopping cannabis-related companies from putting down roots.
GrowLife — which makes supplies for growing marijuana and other plants indoors — opened a manufacturing facility in Grand Prairie this week. The 250,000-square-foot facility will focus on research and development of indoor cultivation techniques. It will also manufacture tile flooring.
The company, which is based near Seattle, started the Grand Prairie facility with four employees. It will expand to 50 employees over the next 18 months, GrowLife chief executive Marco Hegyi said.
As the “green rush” takes off across the country, GrowLife is tapping into a growing demand for supplies, such as pots, lighting and nutrient-packed soil. Hegyi likens it to selling picks and shovels during the gold rush.
About 80 percent of its customers use GrowLife’s products to grow cannabis, Hegyi said. That includes individuals who grow their own, caregivers who grow it for loved ones and larger commercial operations.
Medical marijuana use is permitted in 30 states and Washington, D.C. Eight states and Washington, D.C. also allow recreational use.
But the industry faces headwinds from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has signaled he may step up federal enforcement in states that have legalized marijuana. That’s part of the reason why GrowLife is expanding in Canada, where recreational use will become legal this year, Hegyi said.
Hegyi said the company chose North Texas for its new facility because of its large workforce and central location. He said GrowLife would like to team up with Texas universities who specialize in agricultural research.
And he’s confident Texas will go green eventually, too. “As strong and as large as Texas is to the United States, I think it will start recognizing the benefits, at least of medicinal [use],” he said.
Though marijuana is illegal in Texas, the state has legalized a cannabis product for medical use. Gov. Greg Abbott signed a measure, called the Texas Compassionate Use Act, in 2015 that allows a specific kind of cannabis oil derived from a marijuana plant to be used for some epilepsy patients. A Florida company received the state’s first medical marijuana license in September.
GrowLife has 30 employees across the country. It has facilities in Maine, Colorado and Calgary, Canada. It sells its products online and in some gardening stores and has a store in Canada. GrowLife also consults with companies that are starting indoor cultivation facilities.
The company’s products range from GrowLife Cube, a starter kit with supplies like a light, clip-on fan and grow tent, to FreeFit floors, commercial and residential tiling made with non-toxic ingredients that could be used in a indoor cultivation facility. GrowLife became majority owner of the flooring company last fall.