Julie Aitcheson, Author at Green Market Report

Julie AitchesonJulie AitchesonFebruary 21, 2020
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5min8540

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on our sister site Hemp Market Report.

Amidst concerns on the federal and state levels about violations of FDA regulations regarding CBD products, efforts are being made to allocate more money in the upcoming fiscal year to further define and more stringently enforce CBD laws. President Trump’s proposed budget for the fiscal year 2021, should he gain re-election and have the opportunity to present it to Congress, allocates an additional $5 million to the Food and Drug Administration specifically for further regulation and law enforcement pertaining to cannabis and cannabis-derived products. This is the first time that CBD has been mentioned in a federal budget proposal, which suggests that hemp and CBD may be buzzwords cropping up in Presidential debate topics alongside marijuana leading up to the election.

So where would it leave the future of CBD regulation if Trump is ousted from the White House? Democratic Presidential frontrunners Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren both support the legalization of cannabis, with Sanders proposing to legalize within 100 days of his election to office. A historically outspoken proponent of the war on drugs, Joe Biden is sticking to a half-measure platform with a focus on decriminalization, allowing states to regulate hemp for themselves. Michael Bloomberg supports putting legalization in the hands of individual states, though he is personally opposed to legalization. Pete Buttigieg takes the side of veterans with PTSD who often use cannabis and its derivatives to deal with the aftermath of military service, advocating for the decriminalization of all controlled substances. 

As hemp has yet to be a talking point for presidential candidates, overshadowed as it is by the larger topic of marijuana as a flashpoint for racial justice issues (as criminalization disproportionately affects people of color), what Americans can expect from future budgetary support should a Democrat win office is unclear. What is clear is that the time for comprehensive, consistent regulations and enforcement of cannabis laws on the part of the FDA is long overdue.

  During his January 2020 testimony before the Subcommittee on Health, Committee on Energy and Commerce, and the U.S. House of Representatives, Douglas C. Throckmorton, Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs at the FDA, highlighted the current illegality (per the Food, Drug, & Cosmetic Act)  of interstate commerce of food with CBD additives. He also described in some detail concerns with current CBD marketing tactics that put consumers at risk, such as those products that claim to treat cancer or Alzheimer’s. Throckmorton also identified some particular concerns related to the potential negative health impacts of CBD use, such as liver damage, problematic drug interactions, male reproductive toxicity, and various ill side effects. 

While studies of these impacts are still ongoing and inconclusive, the FDA is clearly intent on taking them, and the future of CBD in the U.S. market, seriously. Whether the President-elect of the United States, whoever he or she may be, manages to pass a budget that supports the FDA in its mission to ensure public safety in regards to CBD is, in many respects, for voters to decide.


Julie AitchesonJulie AitchesonFebruary 10, 2020
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7min14090

Whether you draw a red heart around February 14th on your calendar, giddily counting the days until Cupid arrives, or draw the blinds and hunker down with Netflix and nachos until the hysteria passes, the cannabis industry is vying to be part of your Valentine’s Day experience. Given the surging interest in the benefits of cannabidiols, more consumers than ever are likely to forego the standard bouquets and boxes of chocolates in favor of cannabis-enhanced treats and personal care products to commemorate the day.

Valentine’s Day Spending

According to recent statistics from the National Research Federation, a prominent retail trade association, Americans are set up for another record spending year to celebrate their loved ones on Valentine’s Day. The projected overall spending average for the holiday is up 21 percent from last year among those expecting to commemorate February 14th with romantic dinners and good old fashioned gifting.

A BDS Analytics report found that in 2019, sales in the recreational cannabis markets of California, Florida, and Oregon were 3.3 percent higher on Valentine’s Day than any other day in February, while Eaze, a technology platform providing direct delivery of medical cannabis from dispensaries, reports a 20 percent spike in orders on Valentine’s Day. These statistics clearly reflect the market boost from those seeking to add cannabis products to the standard Hallmark fare. 

For those interested in giving the gift of cannabis (with or without significant THC content) this February, options abound. Weed-infused wines and gourmet chocolates enhanced with CBD and other herbs known for their mood-boosting and aphrodisiacal properties line specialty store shelves, while online retailers lure customers with special Valentine’s Day discounts.

Cannabis Beverage = Love Potion

In addition to billing it as a surefire hangover cure, ALT’s completely clear liquid cannabis product is being marketed as the perfect additive to a Valentine’s Day “love potion”, while  California-based Humboldt Apothecary’s Green Cup-winning Love Potion No. 7 is a cannabis concoction that promises to give you that lovin’ feeling without worrying side effects. 

Leading sexual wellness brand, Foria, offers a line of CBD-enhanced intimacy oils for solo or partnered pleasure. Their products include lubricant, suppositories, tonics, and capsules, as well as the option to get a sampling of these with an assortment of raw, hand-crafted chocolates in a Valentine’s Day gift package.

Apothecanna’s cannabis-enhanced “Sexy Time Personal Intimacy Oil” makes similar claims, and comes with some fairly glowing reviews from customers. Research from Headset, an analytics service provider for the cannabis industry, found that women over-indexed men in the massage/lubricant sector of the cannabis market during the February 12-February 14 window in 2019 by more than 29 percent, which suggests that brands like Foria, Apothecanna, and Quim (maker of a popular latex-safe cannabis lube offering a 15 percent V-Day discount) can expect a profitable week leading up to Valentine’s Day 2020.

Forget Godiva Chocolates

Satori is releasing a few new products that would fit perfectly in a gift guide for cannabis couples. Freshen your breath with Satori microdosed peppermints and you’ll be ready to meet your partner with confidence. Satori Mints allow you to conveniently ingest microdosed amounts of THC throughout the day. Sublingual absorption in your mouth allows the THC to take effect faster than traditional edibles, which must be fully digested before effects are typically felt. With only 2 milligrams of THC per mint, you can enjoy a Valentine’s Day date without feeling overwhelmingly high.

Traditional edibles can take up to two hours to be fully felt, which can be a drag when a romantic opportunity develops. Intended to improve on the user experience of edibles, our new fast-acting Strawberries in Milk Chocolate take effect quickly when compared with old-school infusion methods. These award-winning confections cut down on wait time by using VESIsorb technology, proven to help phytocannabinoids absorb more effectively into the body. Set the mood for love with fast-acting Satori Strawberries in Milk Chocolate as a delightful Valentine’s Day dessert.

For cannabis producers and vendors, Valentine’s Day provides an opportunity to win new customers and retain them with innovative products whose benefits last well beyond February 14th, ideally to become staples of an on-going wellness routine. 

 


Julie AitchesonJulie AitchesonFebruary 6, 2020
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4min16780

Remember the term ‘pinkwashing’? Where companies slapped a pink ribbon on just about anything and claimed to be donating lots of money to breast cancer research? It’s happening again, but this time it’s in the cannabis industry.

“Weed washing” is a disturbing trend that appears to be most dominant in the beauty industry and refers to the act of adding hemp oil that does not contain CBD or only contains a minuscule, non-therapeutic amount to a product in order to capitalize on CBD’s popularity and high price point. So what is the key difference between the properties of hemp seed oil and hemp oil that contains CBD? Hemp seed oil, which has been compared to jojoba or rosehip seed oil (known for their nourishing and anti-inflammatory properties), is derived from hemp seeds (which contain 0% THC), typically through cold-pressing. CBD oil is derived from the flowers, leaves, and stalks of the hemp plant and commonly derived through CO2 or ethanol extraction.

Claire McCormack, reporting for Beauty Independent, found that many beauty brands use the combination of incorporating hemp seed oil as an ingredient, cannabis leaf imagery on the label, and buzzwords like “calm”, “de-stress”, and “blissed out” to lure customers with the false promise of CBD. Weed washed products by such big-name brands as Sephora, Origins, and The Body Shop are all called out in McCormack’s piece for deliberately misrepresenting the CBD content (or lack thereof) in their new skincare lines.

Due to what health information site Healthline calls “the green rush” (referring to the entrepreneurial eagerness to jump on the CBD bandwagon), customers are more vulnerable to wasting their money on weed washed, non-therapeutic products than ever before. Teadora, a vendor of natural and organic skincare products using ingredients sustainably sourced from the Brazilian Amazon, offers a set of guidelines to avoid being “weed washed”. Their simple steps for knowing what to look for when scanning the labels of products that feature CBD as an ingredient include: ensuring that the ingredient is listed as “full-spectrum hemp”, “cannabinoid” or “cannabidiol” rather than simply “hemp oil”; looking for at least 50 mg of CBD in the product for anti-inflammatory properties, 100 mg for anti-aging properties, at least 200mg for pain relief; and knowing your source. 

These guidelines emphasize the larger point that even if beauty products do contain CBD, the concentration may not be high enough to provide any therapeutic effect. This could drive consumers away from CBD-enhanced products if they feel they are not seeing benefits that warrant the higher price tag, cutting this growing market short before it has a chance to fully mature.

While consumers and producers wait on more definitive federal guidelines regarding the manufacturing and marketing of beauty products that claim the healing benefits of CBD, weed washing remains rife within the industry and the need for comprehensive consumer education more pressing than ever. 


Julie AitchesonJulie AitchesonJanuary 29, 2020
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4min13000

Just over a year from the date when the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the list of controlled substances and legalized it for industrial growth, issues plaguing hemp producers in 2019 are coming to light. The most dominant pitfalls include a glutted market, unpredictable climate, problems with mold and pests, and a chronic shortage of adequate drying facilities.

Seasoned farmers are no strangers to these types of problems, but industrial hemp poses a new challenge: how to bring a crop in under the .3% THC limit mandated by the federal government.

In an October article by Chuck Abbot at www.agriculture.com, analysts at agricultural lender CoBank forecasted that changing federal regulations would make it difficult for growers to keep up with guidelines for testing plants for excess THC. The National Law Review published a piece on Jan. 19, 2020 entitled “Key Takeaways From USDA Final Interim Rules for Domestic Hemp Production”. (These interim rules are set to expire in 2021 and will be replaced by finalized regulations.)

The scope of the rules includes conditions for growing, processing and/or selling hemp, and requires an approved testing and sampling procedure to ensure that no plant exceeds .3% THC content. Unfortunately, the currently approved method focuses solely on identifying the THC content of the plant rather than its genetic profile (which can definitively identify the plant as hemp). Testing only for THC content leaves this undetermined.

A hemp plant can “go hot” (aka experience a spike in THC levels) due to using a new seed variety, environmental factors, or a plant left to flower for too long. This can lead to what the National Law Review article describes as “excessive non-compliance and crop destruction”, not to mention devastating financial losses for growers. Writing for local Denver publication Westword, Mathew Van Deventer reports that fourth-generation farmer Randy Taylor was forced to destroy eighty acres under hemp production when that hemp tested at .47% THC by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. The CDA is attempting to address this conundrum by approving and overseeing the development of industrial hemp seeds specifically engineered for low THC/high CBD content.

Theresa Bennett’s Q&A with Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra at www.hempgrower.com  provides further insight into the issue. Steenstra shares that there has been almost a 500% increase in the number of people growing hemp nationwide over last year. These new growers are largely unfamiliar with the complexities of the genetic seed make-up required to keep THC in crops from spiking. As a result, buyers are favoring larger-scale operations with tested seed stock and reliable facilities, which edges new growers out of the market before they gain a foothold.

Despite the obstacle that regulations regarding THC content pose for unseasoned producers, industrial hemp still shows a profit margin generous enough to lure those willing to educate themselves and keep abreast of the changing guidelines into the industry. Hopefully, the lessons of 2019 will make for a less perilous and more profitable learning curve for aspiring hemp entrepreneurs in 2020.


Julie AitchesonJulie AitchesonJanuary 27, 2020
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4min8040

To say that 2019 was a boom year for the CBD industry would be a massive understatement, and 2020 is primed to top the record sales and product innovation that have come to characterize this surging market.

On December 20, 2018, President Trump signed the Farm Bill into law, a move which removed hemp from the government’s controlled drug category and spurred farmers across the country to repurpose agricultural land previously used to grow feed and food crops such as corn and alfalfa for hemp varieties with high CBD and low THC (.3% or less) content. Farmers experiencing demand and profit surges since converting their land for hemp cultivation were profiled in a CNN report in April that projected sales of hemp products to be over 2.2 billion dollars by 2022.

Market activity in 2020 will go a long way towards determining whether or not hemp’s profitability can sustain its robust trajectory. Alexi Korybut, CEO of EcoGen Laboratories (one of the largest hemp manufacturers and suppliers in the U.S.) predicts that CBD consumers will skew increasingly Baby Boomer and become more conscientious about the quality and safety of the products they buy. Korybut also projects a greater focus on other cannabinoids such as CBG and CBN as their specialized effects become more widely known.

A 2020 forecast by Rich Maturo of information, data and measurement firm Nielsen predicts that cannabinoid education efforts, especially those targeted towards health care providers, will greatly increase in 2020. (Nielsen data shows that primary health care providers do more than any other demographic to drive brand loyalty and customer usage in the CBD market.) In addition, Maturo projects that CBD prices will fall while the number of hemp farmers entering the industry will continue to rise, as will the percentage of current farmers increasing acreage dedicated to hemp cultivation.

Despite these positive projections, the hemp industry has experienced its share of problems, as outlined in an October article by Iris Dorbian for Forbes.com. These issues include a lack of widespread, scientifically sound information about the legality and benefits of CBD products, which often deters retailers from carrying hemp products. In addition, changing regulations make it difficult for manufacturers and retailers to keep up as new data emerges about drug interactions and the viable use of CBD as a food additive.

The quality and efficacy of products vary greatly as consistent industry-wide standards are still in process. Dorbian cites a press release from CEO of ValidCare Patrick McCarthy, who echoes Alexis Korybut’s predictions of a growing emphasis on safety and quality, escalating Baby Boomer consumption, and interest in CBG and CBN as features of the hemp industry’s growth in 2020.

Though projections may vary, there do appear to be strong commonalities that provide a clarified, if not completely clear, view of what 2020 holds for the CBD/hemp industry.  What is clear is that the impact of hemp-derived cannabinoids will be felt in the health care industry, agricultural system, and consumer market far beyond the coming year.

 


Julie AitchesonJulie AitchesonDecember 6, 2019
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5min8770

Skateboarding has long been considered an “outlaw” sport on the recreational spectrum, attracting those for whom the structure and homogenous culture of organized athletics holds little appeal. Its anti-establishment origins, outlined in greater detail in this 2013 Skateboarding Magazine article, can be traced back to surfer culture, as wave riders realized there might be a way to surf city streets with the same élan and excitement that they applied to hanging ten in the water.

Both snowboarders and skateboarders have been associated with having a friendly relationship with cannabis. There is speculation that the original California high schoolers that met at 420 to get high, most likely rode on skateboards. Snowboarding’s admittance into the Olympics made many athletes ponder kipping the event if they had to give up smoking pot. The Olympics seemed to look the other way. Many professionals in both sports made no effort to hide their love of cannabis, which kept the rebellious nature of skateboarding intact.

But in recent years, skateboarding has moved away from the fringes and into the limelight with the popular X Games, an extreme sports event produced, hosted, and broadcast by ESPN, and demonstrated by the fact that skateboarding will be an official Olympic sport in Tokyo in 2020. This has given rise to some concern that the stereotype of the stoner skater will be proven true enough to keep some of the sport’s top athletes out of contention, as it did skateboarder Corey Juneau. Ranked seventh in the world, Juneau was suspended for six months after testing positive for THC in 2018.

As skateboarding’s competitiveness, popularity, and main street respectability grow, some of the sport’s biggest names are stepping out in front of companies that promise clean, potent, risk-free performance enhancement through CBD. Michael Apstein, a founding partner of Primary Growth Partners, says that “There is a long history of outlaw brands from other market segments breaking through to the general market – from surfing and skateboarding to extreme sports and certainly in music, apparel and recreation brands.” As the benefits of CBD gain visibility in all corners of the marketplace, skateboarding’s top athletes are endorsing products that provide low THC or THC-free alternatives to marijuana. Old school skateboarding legend Tony Hawk has even developed Birdhouse CBD Balm by producer Canna Hemp, a line of CBD recovery creams that target the epic aches and pains of the action sports market.

 

Professional skateboarder Andy McDonald, 23-time X Games medalist and 10-time world champion, recently partnered with CBD manufacturer Extract Labs to spread the word about the benefits of CBD for extreme sports athletes. McDonald, who used his platform as a professional skateboarder to take an anti-drug message all the way to the Clinton White House, credits the pain-alleviating benefits of hemp-derived CBD for helping him manage the cumulative effects of over 35 years of skating.

Social CBD, a company that markets a range of hemp-derived CBD products that guarantee a 0.0% THC content, recently hooked X-Games Skateboarding gold medalist Nyjah Huston as a spokesperson. Huston stakes his legacy as the winningest skateboarder in history on Social CBD’s promise to deliver a product pure enough to endure the scrutiny of the Olympic committee.

As skateboarding continues to move deeper into the mainstream of competitive sports, its shining stars will no doubt continue to seek out the healing benefits of CBD and the sponsorship dollars of those companies intent on making it the must-have, performance-enhancing supplement for extreme athletes.



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