Marijuana Business Magazine November-December 2019

Marijuana Business Magazine | November-December 2019 50 I t was the bail bondsman that got me. After months of seeing hemp- derived CBD products on sale in unexpected places—from Amish markets to tractor-supply stores to barbershops—I thought I couldn’t be surprised by any more retailers planting flags in the booming CBD market. Then one Tennessee CBD retailer reported seeing competition from a business that springs folks from jail while they await trial. “I’ve seen CBD oil flags flying in front of the most ridiculous stores,” Jason Chambers of Frog Brigade Farmacy in Murfreesboro told a local news station about CBD expansion. As we take a look in this issue of Marijuana Business Magazine at how to partner with mainstream companies, it’s important to consider that when a cannabis business partners with an older, well-capitalized firm, the partnership can affect more than the cannabis company that’s striking the deal. And nowhere is the partnership fallout felt more strongly than hemp. We cheer when the big guys see the benefits and market opportunities of hemp products. When a national grocer starts carrying CBD, or a longtime agricultural biotech giant turns its genetic prowess to hemp, it’s a signal that hemp products are more than a fleeting consumer fad. But there’s a downside, too. As consumers see CBD products sold in more and more mainstream locations—or, in the case of the bail bondsman, hopefully not mainstream locations—the public has less reason to visit hemp-specific retailers to buy these products. That’s good news for shoppers who prefer to see and smell CBD products before buying them. But it’s a challenge for those stores that have popped up seemingly overnight selling CBD tinctures, topicals, vapes and pre-rolls. I have no doubt that the hemp industry will rise to meet this challenge as it has so many others—and that hemp retailers will provide a distinct shopping experience that an average convenience store can’t match. But I also think that a lot of mom-and- pop stores with signs in the window screaming “CBD HERE!” will fail. Who cares if a new store sells CBD, when all the old stores do, too? Back in Tennessee, Chambers told the TV station that his business is being threatened by retailers who “have no business in it whatsoever or probably know little about what they are selling.” I see his frustration. But frankly, that is true of many mass-market retailers. You don’t have to be a Michelin-starred chef to excel at selling beef, or a competent viticulturist (grape farmer) to succeed at selling wine. The same is true of hemp retail. The big guys aren’t just coming; they’re already here. Hemp-specific retailers see sharks in the water, and they’re feeling attacked. But as we look deeper at how can- nabis companies are partnering with larger mainstream firms, don’t forget that sharks aren’t the only fish in the sea. For those smaller fish wondering where hemp retail is headed, the time is now to find the waters where you can swim freely and thrive. Kristen Nichols is the editor of Hemp Industry Daily. You can reach her at . Shark Attack Why mom-and-pop hemp companies should plan now for bigger fish in the industry Hemp Notebook | Kristen Nichols The big guys aren’t just coming; they’re already here. Hemp-specific retailers see sharks in the water, and they’re feeling attacked.