In the initial installment of this roundtable, six cannabis leaders shared their provocative insights on the pandemic’s effects on their industry. In this second part, those same professionals sound off on other timely topics, which include federal legalization and the CBD market.
The participants in this virtual roundtable are as follows: Morris Beegle, co-founder and president of WAFBA (We Are For Better Alternatives), a Colorado hemp company; Andrew DeAngelo, cannabis industry consultant and co-founder of California-based dispensary chain Harborside; Katie Stem, CEO of Peak Extracts, a edibles and cannabis chocolate manufacturer in Oregon; Sam Ludwig, president of Oakland, California-based Aster Farms, a sustainable cannabis company; and Mike Glazer and Mary Jane Gibson of cannabis podcast Weed+Grub.
This group Q&A was edited for conciseness and clarity.
Iris Dorbian: Is there anything you’d like to see happen on the federal level for cannabis?
Katie Stem: Interstate commerce and nationwide legalization.
Mike Glazer and Mary Jane Gibson: Cut the b, and stop using the drug war as a tool of oppression. Legalization. A woman in office, for god’s sake.
Andrew DeAngelo: At the maximum, the Feds should just end it all and deschedule cannabis. Just do it. We clearly have bigger fish to fry right now. There are obviously real threats that require real resources and cannabis is far away from being one of them. The Feds should, at a bare minimum, pass legislation ending the banking access problem for cannabis companies. This would allow us to take digital payments like credit cards and greatly reduce cash handling and virus spread. The fact that this has not been done is a dereliction of duty and a shameful omission of the oath they have taken to every citizen.
Sam Ludwig: We would like cannabis to be allowed to receive emergency relief funds. Right now, we do not have access to small business loans that other industries are claiming. We are considered “essential” but are not being recognized as such.
Dorbian: What is the biggest growth market in the industry?
Stem: Novel consumers that are either coming back to cannabis from their young adulthood or discovering it for the first time. The deterrent of illegality and lack of availability has kept huge swaths of several demographics away from cannabis, and I believe that the 55-and-older crowd is going to rely on cannabis and hemp products to manage their pain as they move into old age.
Glazer and Gibson: Edibles are capturing a bigger market share than usual, and sales of pre-rolls have dropped, possibly due to the threat of coronavirus respiratory infections.
Beegle: Hemp-based foods that include hemp seed, hemp seed oil, CBD oil and full spectrum hemp extracts as ingredients. This will include snacks, cereals, superfoods, beverages and more.
Ludwig: The biggest growth market is the Cannabis User 2.0. Accessibility and acceptance are skyrocketing and new consumers are flocking to cannabis for medicinal and recreational use. Total addressable market is nowhere near peaking. There is room for significant growth in every category. We’re just getting started.
Dorbian: Seems like everything has CBD in it these days. Will this continue or will there be a backlash?
Stem: The demand overall for CBD will continue, but the more ridiculous products that have little demonstrable utility (other than novelty) such as CBD clothing, pillows, etc. will eventually fall off. That said, I think CBD will have a place in every medicine cabinet in the country, either as a topical or ingestible because it can have such a positive impact on people’s sleep, anxiety, pain and inflammation.
Beegle: The CBD fad will taper off and CBD along with CBG and other various hemp-derived extracts will become another ingredient used by formulators of supplements and food products. That is, if the FDA provides common-sense regulations around the uses of these ingredients.
DeAngelo: CBD is going to be around for a while, but I do think it has been over-hyped to a dangerous degree and I worry about backlash. For example, five milligrams of CBD is not going to do much for anyone. Fifty milligrams might; 200 milligrams may do something great, but your latte at the coffee shop in West Hollywood might have half a milligram in it for the extra five bucks you paid for it. So, there are dangers in that kind of behavior. Like most things cannabis, the way in which we do things is really important. But I think CBD is here to stay. I just hope it gets defined and used in the proper way. We still have a lot to learn, science-wise, about CBD.