An array of jars and vials on glass shelves at Mr. Nice Guy’s on North Navarro Street give it the appearance of a pharmacy. But, if one were to look closely inside one of the jars, a green nugget might be waiting.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, comes in the form of a smokable flower, topical oils, gummies, coffee beans and candies galore. Like marijuana, it’s derived from the cannabis plant, but it is not an illegal substance – at least, not anymore.

June 10, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law HB 1325, which legalized hemp with less than .3% THC, including CBD, effective immediately.

Marijuana is still illegal in Texas.

Although it was illegal to sell CBD products until earlier this month, Mike McCreight, who co-owns three Mr. Nice Guy’s stores with Carl Bradburn and Leroy Michen, said the district attorneys looked the other way.

“They realized, the district attorneys did, that the law was gonna change here real quick,” McCreight said.

Victoria County District Attorney Constance Filley Johnson did not respond to a request for comment.

In addition to legalizing hemp products, the new law has paved a route to their regulation, said Lisa Pittman, an attorney who specializes in Texas cannabis law.

“What will happen next is the Department of Agriculture will propose regulations,” Pittman said. “That will include licensing and permitting.”

Regulation won’t come to fruition until sometime this fall. When it does, Texas’ requirements for CBD retailers, wholesalers, processors and farmers will be among the country’s strictest, Pittman said.

Until then, CBD retail stores will continue as they have been: unregulated.

Because of the lack of regulation, some people are skeptical of CBD and its effectiveness as medication. Skeptics included Mr. Nice Guy’s owner Mike McCreight, who said he thought CBD was nothing but snake oil and a passing fad when his stores began selling the products about a year ago.

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Customer testimony has since changed his mind.

McCreight said one woman in particular changed his mind when she told him her pain dramatically decreased after she used CBD products he sold her.

“She came in on her walker and got CBD oil, came back the next week – no walker,” McCreight said. “You kinda start to think there’s something to this.”

During a recent survey of customers at one Mr. Nice Guy’s store, several people attested to how CBD helped them with pain after broken bones, surgeries and other injuries. None wanted to be identified.

McCreight and Bradburn co-own three Mr. Nice Guy’s stores – two in Victoria and one in Corpus Christi. A fourth store, the original Mr. Nice Guy’s, was opened as a smoke shop in Corpus Christi about 10 years ago.

Mr. Nice Guy’s first opened in Victoria about a year and a half ago at its Houston Highway location and began selling CBD products shortly thereafter.

Shortly afterward, the owners opened the other two locations. McCreight said he’s already driving around scouting his next location and dreams of ultimately having between eight and 10 stores.

In 2019, Hemp Industry Daily, an outlet specializing in cannabis industry news, estimates U.S. hemp-derived retail sales will be about $1 billion. By 2023, it estimates the industry will bring in about $7 billion annually.

Although several shops around Victoria sell a CBD product or two, McCreight said none offer Mr. Nice Guy’s level of variety.

“The stuff’s expensive, so you’ve got to have kinda deep pockets to even get started in it, to have a selection of any sort,” McCreight said.

Although Shawn Syed, who owns a CBD wholesale shop in Houston, said he doesn’t have a minimum order price like other wholesalers, he doesn’t advertise his shop because he’s already so busy.

“If we start selling to just any customer, we will be swamped,” Syed said.

McCreight, who moved to Victoria from San Antonio 25 years ago to work as a scaffold foreman at a nearby industrial plant, got his start as a furniture retailer when he went into business with Bradburn in 1998.

Bradburn said he likes being in the CBD business because he is able to help people.

“I thought it was just in people’s heads, but it’s not,” Bradburn said. “It can’t be. This many people couldn’t make it up.”

As business ramps up, McCreight said he’s planning a commercial to advertise his stores.

“I’m working on my catchphrase,” McCreight said. “‘We’ve got everything to stop your pain!’”

Morgan is the business reporter for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at (361) 580-6328, mohanlon@vicad.com or @mcohanlon.

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