The big event on Tuesday at Natural Products Expo West 2019 was the Natural Products Hemp & CBD Summit. Speakers discussed quality and potency testing, what questions consumers should ask of their suppliers and laboratories, and how companies can provide the highest-quality products to their customers. Other highlights include spotlights on individual brands, marketing in the hemp CBD industry, cannabinoids and pets, advice for retailers, the danger around isolates, and the legal landscape of CBD.
Today’s speakers offered excellent insights into how to navigate the CBD industry and what to expect in the future.
Here are some of the most noteworthy discussions from today’s summit:
These 10-minute spotlights allowed a high-ranking member of the company to speak about the recent goings-on of their respective brands.
Research and education was a key theme between all four brands.
Alex Capano and John Ryan of Ananda Hemp discussed their seed genetics and the value of doing research.
CEO of CV Sciences Joseph Dowling spoke about how CV Sciences had conducted a full battery of toxicology studies of its ingredient in 2018, which were published in the Journal of Toxicology, costing six figures to implement.
As a result of the studies, CV Sciences became the first and only company in the industry to achieve a self-affirmed GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) certification.
Bluebird Botanicals’ Head of Marketing and Branding Michael Harinen also spoke on the importance of testing, saying, “Test as much as you can. It’s going to add to your overhead, but it’s going to make your company the best that it can be.”
Lastly, co-founder of Sagely Naturals Kerrigan Behrens talked about the formation of her brand and how to get her products out in front of potential customers: “Omnichannel approach is critical to our business. If we aren’t in a store, it is harder for consumers to learn about our business.”
Austin Stevenson MSc, the VP of Product & Innovation at Nanogen Labs, explained the importance of testing and what companies can do to provide high-quality, clean products to their customers.
Stevenson encouraged companies to implement tests for six major categories: cannabinoid potency, residual solvents, heavy metals, pesticides, microbiology screening, and terpene profiling.
He then provided questions brands should ask laboratories they may work with, such as about their accreditation and certifications, what methods they use, and if those methods have been validated.
Finally, he gave some questions that brands can ask suppliers and vendors, including if the vendor can provide a certificate of analysis, how often the vendor performs third-party testing, and if the vendor’s manufacturing process has been audited.
Todd Runestad of New Hope Network, Jim Ott with CFD Ltd, Michael McGuffin of American Herbal Products Association, and Marielle Weintraub of U.S. Hemp Authority gave their advice on how to navigate the lack of regulations in the industry.
“In many ways, CBD is just another herb. It is regulated like any other herb,” said McGuffin, noting that Good Manufacturing Practice standards apply to CBD, so must businesses must be aware of this for their facilities.
As for consumers, the best thing to do is “know your source.”
Not all companies control the seed-to-sale process, so consumers need to find the source of their products and vet the manufacturer’s production process.
If possible, consumers and companies who work with suppliers should visit facilities to see the operations for themselves.
Ultimately, the speakers said the goal is to get the CBD industry to the point where we can treat it like any other herb.
This panel included Steve Hoffman, the Principal at Compass Natural (he also represents a dozen hemp and hemp CBD brands), Jessica Mulligan of Winged Naturals, and Klee Irwin, the founder of Irwin Naturals.
The three marketing gurus shared advice on properly marketing CBD businesses, noting that creating valuable content for targeted audiences is the key.
Irwin mentioned he is getting Irwin Naturals products into CVS and Walmart and is already selling in Walgreens.
He also spoke on making products more affordable, “It shouldn’t cost someone $200 per month to use 30mg of CBD per day.”
Most importantly, to properly market CBD, companies must refrain from making claims of any sort.
Dr. Rob Silver, who has been the Chief Veterinary Officer of the largest vertically-integrated hemp company in the US since 2015, Folium Biosciences, explained the benefits of CBD for pets.
Some of the highlights included that CBD is being used for treating arthritis, anxiety, and epilepsy. These uses are also supported by research Dr. Silver presented.
He also explained that THC is toxic to pets, potentially causing ataxia, sedation, or death.
Dr. Silver also recommended that owners use tinctures for their pets instead of other products because it allows more control over the dose.
These women work in retail and sell products from several CBD brands.
They offered advice on what they look for when considering which companies to partner with.
Some of the major takeaways included requiring extensive third-party testing, working with brands that have an interesting story, and ensuring a company wants to partner long-term.
These speakers discussed several topics, including who is contributing to the funding of the industry and specifically on CBD isolate.
Murphy explained the dangers of the CBD isolate industry, noting that this realm is where the pharmaceutical industry will rule:
“Isolate spiking is a short-term play. Ultimately isolate is going to be owned by the big pharma companies. The best long-term move for the health of the industry and your own brand is to focus on full-spectrum products,” Murphy said.
Jason Sapsin of Faegre Baker Daniels, Jonathan Miller with U.S. Hemp Roundtable, and Rend Al-Mondhiry with Amin Talati Upadhye spoke on the legal status currently surrounding CBD.
The panel went through the history of CBD, speaking on the FDA’s letters to CBD companies making unsupported claims, which threatened to shut down these businesses.
Miller, the former State Treasurer of Kentucky, noted that “the political winds are really behind us” with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill.
“Mitch McConnell did extraordinary work to get 2018 Farm Bill passed,” said Miller. “Hemp Prohibition is now officially over. It is no longer a controlled substance.”
However, the panel noted there is still much work to do, especially with the FDA’s position on CBD not changing with the Farm Bill.