Cannabis.net got to sit down with Massachusetts CBD producer Berkshire CBD to find out what is happening with CBD in Massachusetts, why get into the CBD industry at all, and what does the future hold for CBD companies headed into 2019/20!
- Berkshire CBD is a unique name in the way Berkshire Hathaway is as well, how did you come up with the name of your company? Is there a good story behind it?
The mountains of Western Massachusetts that we live in are known as The Berkshires. The area is a beautiful example of rural New England, with small towns and farms nestles in the rolling wooded hills. Our farm is located in one of the small hilltowns of the Berkshires and it’s here that we started the company. Berkshire CBD has since branched out into Southern Vermont but the name will stay with us wherever we go.
- What about the CBD industry at this time, with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, made you want to get into the CBD industry?
I think that the timing of us getting into the CBD industry correlated directly with our own personal experiences in regards to CBD rich hemp and CBD flower. Like many people, we had experienced such profound personal success with full spectrum CBD products, particularly hemp flower, that we were eager to share what had helped us with others. We were passionate believers in the healing power of whole plant medicine and we recognized premium CBD hemp flower as the purest expression in regards to the integrity of the plant. We became involved with the Massachusetts state hemp program as a licenced hemp grower and later with Vermont state as a registered hemp processor. We saw that there existed a niche in the CBD market that spoke directly to our passion and experience; premium grade, smokable, CBD hemp flower. The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill has allowed us to better anticipate the evolving legislation around hemp which has helped to lessen the gray area around our industry.
- Berkshire CBD grows premium grade CBD smokable hemp flower. For our readers that don’t know, what is smokable hemp? What would a user smoke it for and how is different from smoking say the female cannabis plant that has higher THC levels?
Smokable CBD hemp flower is cannabis sativa that has been bred and cultivated for it’s low THC and high CBD. In essence, the only distinction between CBD hemp flower and high THC cannabis flower, is a legal classification that is based solely on the content of the delta 9 THC. We consider premium grade smokable hemp to be hemp bud that has been cultivated to standards that are in line with the medical grade of higher THC cannabis flower. The user will notice a marked difference in that CBD flower does not produce the same high as medical cannabis that can contain upwards of 30% THC content. Instead, the user often describes an immediate feeling of relief from symptoms like anxiety and insomnia as well as some chronic pain. As advocates of CBD hemp flower ourselves, we really appreciate the fact that it seems to provide all of the relief and benefits associated with high THC cannabis but without the more intense psychotropic effects.
- Are you currently turning your premium grade hemp flower into other products like tinctures and lotions? Will that be in the future if not already being done?
We will be launching our first line of extracts at the end of March this year. These ethanol extracts will be single strain, full spectrum varietals that capture the integrity and effects of particular strains of CBD rich hemp. We are working with an extractor who is also a state certified lab to produce a product that is as close to the flower that goes into making it as possible. We feel that a single strain, small batch, full spectrum extract will be a unique offering in the CBD marketplace and one that perfectly complements our CBD hemp bud menu.
- You grow premium, lab tested, hemp flower with organic farming practices. What does that mean on the organic side, is it just the soil, or can you explain the farming practice from seed to packages flower?
Last year there was no USDA certification for organic hemp for private farms, so all of the hemp flower that we grew and sourced was grown with organic practices on certified organic farms without the official organic certification. We made sure that any flower that we grew or sourced met with the standards of organic farming practices. To start with, the soil where the hemp is cultivated must be certified organic, and test free of heavy metals, chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Additionally, we looked for growing practices to include things like using compost and organic fertilizer, finding pest control solutions like ladybugs instead of pesticides, rotating crops, and using cover crops. Fortunately, this year the USDA will allow farms to certify CBD hemp as organic under a state program and we are extremely excited by that!
- Where do you see the future of CBD and Berkshire? What will the CBD market look like in 24 months and how are you planning on being the top organic hemp flower brand?
We strive to make Berkshire CBD the gold standard of the hemp flower market. As much as possible, we plan to keep everything in-house so that we have the ability to control the premium standards of our products and services. The future of hemp flower market will likely mirror the high THC cannabis market in that the variety and the overall quality of the products will go up in response to a more educated consumer of CBD hemp flower. We plan to provide that informed consumer with the highest quality experience available in the hemp flower market.
- CBD has been in the gray area and now is becoming much less gray with the Farm Bill, what advice would you give yourself 2 years ago or advice for someone thinking of getting into the CBD/cannabis niche?
The challenges of doing business in the CBD marketplace are unique and nuanced. Take the time to educate yourself, not only in regards to the state and federal legalities of your business and products, but also in terms of how to operate within an ecosystem that demands alternative solutions for many of the basic things a business needs to operate. Things like banking, advertising and merchant service processing require unique solutions in the hemp industry. Because there has existed so much gray area in this industry, there are many opportunities to compromise the integrity of your products and services – don’t. The future of this industry is going to depend on responsible merchants and educated consumers seeking to evolve out of the gray legal landscape and into a brighter tomorrow.
- What is the biggest mistake you made in this startup and how would you describe starting a CBD company in 2018?
In the beginning, we let our enthusiasm for the CBD hemp flower industry outpace our pragmatism when it came to setting up the foundation of our operations. While that is not uncommon in any new business, I will say that our lack of due diligence in some areas led to us having to very quickly reassess some of our company’s fundamental perspectives. While we were fortunate in that we were small and nimble enough to navigate these challenges, we did spend a good deal of time and resources learning these lessons.
- How can someone contact you or order your premium grade smokable hemp flower?
We always enjoy talking about premium smokable CBD hemp flower and welcome the opportunity to connect directly with those wishing to learn more about this remarkable product.