What to Know About Using CBD at Your Business

The cannabis-derived ingredient is trending, but offering it legally can be complicated.
Is it high time for you to start researching CBD oil for your small business? (Photo: ElRoi/Shutterstock)

Offering the latest “it” ingredient is a no-brainer for businesses who want to attract increasingly health-conscious customers. While it might have been relatively easy to add an açaí bowl to your menu or toss a few goji berries on a salad a couple of years ago, things are bit trickier when it comes to the trendiest wellness ingredient of 2019: Cannabidiol.

Commonly known as “CBD,” the cannabis-derived substance won’t get you high (unlike its sister substance, THC). However, enthusiasts say that the compound offers other benefits to the mind and body. CBD is now making its way into everything from ingestible oils and topical lotions to coffees, cocktails and cupcakes.

Here’s what you need to know about offering CBD at your business.

Pay attention to the laws

The laws around cannabis — including CBD — are constantly changing. Before using cannabidiol at your business, make sure your products will comply with all state and federal regulations.

Brad McLaughlin headshot

I used to ask business about their mobile strategy, but now I ask about their CBD or hemp strategy.” – Brad McLaughlin (Photo: Brad McLaughlin)

“Check with your legal counsel or attorney about wanting to offer CBD,” said Brad McLaughlin, founder and chief executive officer of BudTrader.com, the world’s largest cannabis marketplace. “My clients have had to update their terms and conditions, among other things, to follow the laws.”

Be especially careful about how you label and promote CBD products. Making claims about the health benefits of your products could get you in hot water with the Food & Drug Administration.

Related: 6 Legal Mistakes Small Business Owners Make (and How to Avoid Them)

In addition to following the rules, be as transparent and cautious as possible when offering CBD, said McLaughlin. Let customers know how much CBD your products contain, and consider restricting sales to people of a certain age (such as 18 or 21 years old and up).

“Document the safety precautions you’re taking. You have to demonstrate that you showed as much good faith as possible, in case something does come up down the road,” said McLaughlin.

Find reputable suppliers

CBD oil with plant

Essential oil suppliers are coming out with their own versions of CBD oils. (Photo: Victoria43/Shutterstock)

There are thousands of CBD products on the market today. Do your homework to make sure you find a reputable supplier, said McLaughlin.

“You need to be very careful — there are some unscrupulous suppliers out there, and people are getting duped,” he said. “The most reputable suppliers will perform a spot test when you make a purchase to show you that their CBD is the highest quality.”

When in doubt, ask to see a supplier’s certificate of analysis. It documents a lab test that checks the levels of CBD, THC and possible contaminants in a cannabis or hemp product.

Check out Consumer Reports’ guide on shopping for CBD to learn more about how to find a reputable supplier.

Start simple

It’s tempting to experiment with CBD and try to create the most innovative products in town. However, if it’s the first time you’re using the ingredient at your business, keep things simple at the beginning, said McLaughlin.

“If you want to carry CBD products or use CBD in your coffee and tea, I recommend getting something pre-made from a reputable company, as opposed to creating something yourself,” he said. “There’s a learning curve to creating your own products.”

Companies such as SteepFuze sell hemp extract coffee on wholesale, making it easy for restaurants and cafes to start brewing CBD drinks with just the right amount of the substance.

You could also consider offering CBD as an add-on to some of your best-selling products and services.

“You can add CBD oil to a massage or a smoothie to see how your customers feel about it,” said McLaughlin.

Once you’ve found some success using CBD in a product or two, consider expanding and creating your own concoctions. Restaurants have created entire tasting menus of foods infused with CBD, while some bars have started brewing CBD-laced beer. It’s all about creating something customers can’t find anywhere else.

Educate your customers

There’s still a lot of confusion around CBD and what it does. Expect to make an investment in customer education to ease their concerns and inform them about cannabidiol.

“They’re going to ask if CBD will get them high, and if it’s legal,” said McLaughlin.

Related: How Your Store Can Project Authenticity to Customers

Customers will also want to learn about why they should consider taking CBD. Enthusiasts of the substance, as well as some health experts and scientists, say that CBD induces relaxation, eases stress and reduces inflammation.

Learn as much as you can so you’re able to provide trustworthy information to your customers. “CBD Oil: A Lifestyle Guide to Hemp-Derived Health and Wellness” by Gretchen Lidicker, goes in-depth about the myths and realities of CBD, and is a good primer for anyone who’s interested in the compound.

Incorporating CBD into your offerings might be a complex process, but McLaughlin says the effort can pay off big time.

“I used to ask business about their mobile strategy, but now I ask about their CBD or hemp strategy. You need to be thinking about it in order to compete in 2019,” he said.

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