Five Questions with David Bronner, CEO of Dr. Bronner’s
by Bart Schaneman
Dr. Bronner’s iconic soap – packaged with its wordy, offbeat label – has for decades been a favorite among consumers of natural products. The Vista, California-based company also has been a pioneering force in the growing popularity of hemp consumer goods.
As CEO of Dr. Bronner’s and the grandson of the founder, David Bronner has watched as the natural products, hemp and marijuana industries have shifted from fringe to mainstream.
To accelerate that shift, Dr. Bronner’s announced in June it would contribute $125,000 in funding for a newly formed marijuana industry standards group, the Cannabis Certification Council. The council is composed of an organic cannabis association and an ethical labor practices organization, with Dr. Bronner’s providing continued financial and logistical backing.
In an email interview with Marijuana Business Magazine, Bronner discussed the need for the marijuana industry to adopt standards, business opportunities for organic or socially responsible cannabis, and hemp’s future in the United States.
Where do you see the business opportunities for organic or socially responsible marijuana?
Consumers who have legal access want to be assured the products they are buying and putting into their bodies align with their personal and moral values.
It’s also a question of safety – the current lack of standards in the industry allows for the sale and distribution of cannabis products that are highly contaminated with all sorts of toxic pesticides. And exploitative labor practices are unfortunately not uncommon in the industry.
How do you see the future of the hemp industry unfolding?
I expect we will have federal legalization of hemp farming this year. I see hemp farming as a revitalizing crop for American farmers, with huge growth markets in food, fiber and medicine.
Any key business opportunities come to mind for hemp?
There is huge opportunity in the CBD market, but also with food, biocomposites, construction and clothing.
Do you have any advice on how a CBD or hemp company should market to consumers?
I would like to see CBD products regulated in the market as dietary supplements, not as pharmaceuticals. This means these products would be available for purchase in the vitamin aisle of a natural retailer and would not require a prescription to obtain or consume. CBD product manufacturers should hold themselves to the same high standards for product quality, sourcing and organic labeling as other supplements.
What made you decide to support the Cannabis Certification Council?
We are committed to making socially and environmentally responsible products, and a major part of our success is organic and fair trade integrity. We are excited for the Cannabis Certification Council to begin driving that ethos in the cannabis industry.
The council’s standards certify that cannabis products are organically grown and fairly produced.
The organic integrity of cannabis is important for health and environmental reasons, and whether cannabis is grown under just and fair working conditions is important for all workers involved.