The hemp industry has truly become something to behold. From an obscure underground market, to a full market free for all, it launched the once unheard of phytochemical CBD into a hot commodity that’s raking in profits. As successful as it has been in terms of generating profit and launching new careers, it continues to face instability from federal and state regulations. Everyone involved in the supply chain, from consumers to distributors, are scrambling to ride out the ever-dynamic wave of regulatory ambiguity. It is ever important to be educated about the available products and, most importantly, their source. Consumers hold an enormous amount of power to influence the industry for the better. It is they who determine what practices the industry deems acceptable in terms of cultivation and extraction methods. Consumers also communicate to the industry that they are in favor of supporting businesses that promote social responsibility because this new industry is emerging from a complicated past with problematic roots.
The burgeoning focus on CBD hemp provides numerous benefits, including boosting local economies and offering opportunities for more plant based products. It has the potential to promote the necessary healing from the complicated history that surrounds this plant. As more states are figuring out how they want to regulate cultivation in addition to its commerce, it is important for consumers to understand their role within the hemp industry in order to help it thrive. Consumers use their dollars to indicate their preference for locally sourced, quality-made products, and to help it achieve its restorative potential by choosing certain businesses that give back to communities. These actions help to shape this new industry. Here are a few things to keep in mind when comparing cannabis products.
Consumers also communicate to the industry that they are in favor of supporting businesses that promote social responsibility because this new industry is emerging from a complicated past with problematic roots.
Consumers should do their absolute best to purchase products from small and local farms. By doing so, you know your money is funding local businesses, which in turn helps the local economy.
Industrial hemp often concentrates power into the hands of corporations, similar to other types of farming, however buying local helps the small to medium sized farmers. These profits allow a small or medium sized farmer to maintain ownership of their land. Legalized hemp has truly allowed farmers the opportunity to get out of financial ruin. They have found that cultivating hemp has its risks, but once contracts are made the crop can be very profitable. Last year was tough on farmers, but it seems that they have learned from this by scaling back, diversifying crops, and locking in buyers. The fact is that farmers are able to survive the market ambiguity from consumer profits, and consumers know that without these growers, there is no CBD.
Legalized hemp has truly allowed farmers the opportunity to get out of financial ruin.
If CBD-infused products are available locally, consumers are better off buying these goods from within their own state. This helps extractors, manufacturers, analytical lab testing facilities, and retailers to stay in business as this is still a very risky, niche market. There are many financial risks and potential barriers that affect all players in the supply chain. These appear as issues with banking, insurance, payment processing, and access to capital. Banks and lenders are not very comfortable with an industry that does not have very clear or definitive regulations, thus they are reluctant to support these ventures (Flitter, 2019).
Shop for Quality
Another way consumers can impact the industry is by continuing to shop for and demand high quality products. Many consumers, new and experienced, need to do their due diligence when it comes to searching for and purchasing CBD goods. When we choose to buy products that have been grown well in a clean environment, proper third-party lab testing was conducted, and ingredients were sourced with the utmost care, this shows the industry consumers’ needs and demands. When assessing quality there are some key factors you need to look for which include things like product transparency, retail location, and third-party testing. By choosing quality products, consumers communicate they are willing to spend money as long as the value is not compromised.
An artisanal and transparent approach is the way to stand out in the currently saturated market, for consumers feel there is more care and concern in how the product was made and the sourcing of the ingredients when companies are straightforward with their products. For instance, you are better off buying from local and small businesses rather than getting CBD at a gas station or a convenience store, which are not the best places to find quality. It is best to buy products from businesses who are open about their grow process and extraction methods, and who have third-party lab results for their product line. This validates the quality of their CBD.
By choosing quality products, consumers communicate they are willing to spend money as long as the value is not compromised.
It’s also wise to find out how the product was cultivated because hemp is an excellent phytoremediator by efficiently taking in substances from the soil. This means that the way hemp is grown will impact the quality of the final product. Consumers need to be aware that heavy metals and toxins, like pesticides and herbicides, are contaminants that are present in certain locations, which underscores the need to look for certificates of analysis. Be wary of purchasing CBD from overseas because they do not have the same protections for pesticide use compared to U.S. growing standards. Moreover, there is little room for verifying certain information like growing methods, growing locations, and whether the overseas product encountered any adulterants.
This industry has a complicated history. Hemp cultivation and hemp-derived cannabinoids have only recently been legalized, with almost every state participating in some form, but this wasn’t always the case. Even with the help of the 2014 Farm Bill, where some states were able to work with the crop for research purposes, hemp still struggles to rid itself of the stigma casted by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act. This was due to the many resources hemp provided which threatened many industries, such as the paper mills and synthetic chemical factories, and it promoted a discriminatory agenda against certain individuals. Legislation lumped all forms of cannabis together under a single name, “marijuana,” and drastically changed the perceptions of hemp. Non-psychoactive and psychoactive varieties were thus closely tied together because of misinformation spread by these laws.
It is up to the consumer to educate themselves further on this history so that we can move forward from the troubled past that prohibited the cultivation, sale, and use of this plant. The 1970s War on Drugs campaign promoted the unjust targeting of people of color despite studies concluding that white communities use and grow cannabis at similar rates. People of color have been blocked from entering this burgeoning industry. They face steep financial barriers and societal stigmas more than their white counterparts endure. Moreover, the people in the underground black market that break into the legal hemp business have been disproportionately white. It is evident that BIPOC individuals have been unable to gain traction in this legal field at the same pace as white individuals. Therefore we must look for products and businesses owned by people of color as well as support businesses that pledge to give back some profits for social reform, and to communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.
Educated consumers understand they should be looking for goods that support giving back to communities that have been unjustly impacted by cannabis prohibition.
This industry emerged from an era that systematically went after people and communities of color that used or grew these plants, some of which are still being persecuted today. We cannot profit off of this plant without giving back to communities who were unjustly discriminated against when this reality is ongoing today. It is up to you to speak up to your elected officials, so they know we want fair and equitable regulations, but most importantly that we demand reparations. It is essential to address these issues so that the hemp industry has a better chance of lasting.
There are many ways in which we can lend our support for this new and evolving industry. Consumers must be educated about products and industry basics, which will ultimately help the individual find better suited products. Educated consumers will be more apt to support their local economy if CBD can be sourced closer to home. This ensures support for small farms and local businesses as they continue to face instability and ambiguity. Educated consumers will be able to avoid potential scams that would make them waste their time and money on products that lack quality and substance. Moreover, educated consumers understand they should be looking for goods that support giving back to communities that have been unjustly impacted by cannabis prohibition. We can make a difference by playing our part.
Caramela, S. (2020, July 3). Starting a CBD Business: How to Enter the CBD Industry. https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/15052-how-to-start-a-cbd-business.html
CBD Hemp Experts. (2020, June 12). Why it's Important to Educate Your Customers on CBD. https://cbdhempexperts.com/why-its-important-to-educate-your-customers-on-cbd/
Corroon, J., & Kight, R. (2018). Regulatory Status of Cannabidiol in the United States: A Perspective. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 3(1), 190–194. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2018.0030
Flitter, E. (2019, December 03). Hemp Industry Is Cleared to Do Business With Banks. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/03/business/hemp-producers-banks.html?auth=login-google
Ghosh, I. (2019, July 09). How Consumers Are Shaping Cannabis Consumption. https://www.visualcapitalist.com/how-consumers-are-shaping-cannabis-consumption/
Lee, M. A. (2016, March 28). Marijuana, Industrial Hemp & the Vagaries of Federal Law. Retrieved July 27, 2020, from https://www.projectcbd.org/politics/marijuana-industrial-hemp-vagaries-federal-law
Matthews, D. (2013, June 04). The black/white marijuana arrest gap, in nine charts. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/06/04/the-blackwhite-marijuana-arrest-gap-in-nine-charts/
NORML. (2020, July 02). Racial Disparity In Marijuana Arrests. https://norml.org/marijuana/fact-sheets/racial-disparity-in-marijuana-arrests/
US Customs and Border Protections. (2019, December 20). Did You Know... Marijuana Was Once a Legal Cross-Border Import? Retrieved July 27, 2020, from https://www.cbp.gov/about/history/did-you-know/marijuana