East Downtown will soon play host to a first-of-its-kind business for Houston. Amsterdam Co., set to open in EaDo as early as late April, will sell CBD-infused coffee to patrons in a relaxed setting akin to those, oh so famous, Netherlands coffee shops. Partners Michael Migl and Drew Bailey, long time concert and event promoters in the Houston music scene, are currently negotiating a lease for their pioneering new business, even as the legality of its product line remains a grey area in Texas law.
Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, is a non-psychoactive compound derived from cannabis that is used both medically and recreationally to help in the treatment of pain, anxiety, depression and more. The compound has gained mainstream recognition as a health and wellness supplement and medical alternative to narcotic marijuana. It’s benefits are said to be critical in the treatment of conditions as severe as epilepsy, arthritis and PTSD. In 2015, medical CBD use was legalized in Texas through the Texas Compassionate Use Act. The law’s wording is quite vague, and while some state representatives claim it only legalized prescribed medical use, shops around the state have begun selling lower concentration CBD products over the counter.
Despite the questionable legality, the Austin American-Statesman reported in October that the county attorney’s offices feel they would be “hard-pressed to prosecute” any shops selling the substance over the counter due to the vague language of the act. This admitted grey area has served as a green light to entrepreneurs hoping to ride the national CBD wave as the substance becomes a more widely acceptable therapeutic alternative to weed.
“We are both heavy users,” says Migl, “with CBD and coffee, there’s a parallel there.” The shop’s co-owner discusses his time spent living in Europe and frequenting Amsterdam’s coffee shop-dispensaries. While CBD is non-narcotic and produces no known high, the correlation to weed and weed culture is undeniable. The compound is sold and marketed as a marijuana alternative in vape and smoke shops throughout Texas, as well as in medical dispensaries. In states like Colorado, it is sold in recreational dispensaries alongside marijuana products.
With Amsterdam Co., Migl and Bailey hope to create more than a transactional business, however. “We wanted to find something where we could have a hub, where we could build a culture around it,” explains Migl. The promoters turned business owners aim to leverage the popularity and culture around CBD to create a neighborhood hangout with the potential to birth other opportunities.
The cultural association of CBD use with weed makes the combination of neighborhood coffee shop with CBD sales an absolute no brainer. With their new business, Migl and Bailey aim to exploit a market opportunity that seems almost obvious in retrospect. The only question now is, if legalization were to happen, will Amsterdam Co. expand its product line to be more in step with its European counterparts? The two business partners won’t say as much, choosing to focus only on their current plans to sell CBD-infused coffee. Still, the expansion would be fairly simple given the proper legal avenues. For now, Houstonians can soon rejoice as they sip therapeutic CBD oil and hot coffee in their own neighborhood version of a Dutch coffee shop.