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On Tuesday, Faye Coleman of Pure Genesis, Ken VandeVrede of HillviewMed and Mike McQueeny with Genova Burns joined us for a 30-minute webinar, Why The Business of Hemp Is So Essential. VandeVrede and Coleman are members of the The New Jersey CannaBusiness Association’s recently formed Hemp Policy Committee. NJ Advance Media reporter and NJ Cannabis Insider contributor Amanda Hoover moderated the panel. The conversation focused on how COVID-19 is affecting the hemp industry, locally, nationally and internationally. Here’s an edited transcript of the start of the discussion.
McQueeny: There’s been such a demand on the medical marijuana side of things, we don’t have the infrastructure right now to keep up. So, we’ve seen more and more patients pivoting to the CBD and hemp retailers to kind of find that alternative relief for what they’re going through. We’ve seen a lot of that and I think that’s been kind of great for the industry as a whole because a lot of these CBD and retailers are going to be kind of our medical marijuana or recreational marijuana retailers of the future. Having that opportunity to step up during a pandemic really reframes everything that they’ve been working for the last couple years, and we’re seeing it as, as more of a supplement to, to the medical marijuana program.
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Coleman: We’re certainly in uncertain times. And for that, on the New Jersey front, at least, we’re going to see some longer delays on issuing licenses that are going to be coming out. There’s also going to be some restrictions with regard to capital from investors. Because right now, everybody’s taking a wait and see approach. One thing we just found out is that hemp will have an opportunity to take advantage of some of those small business loans that are out there. I would encourage everyone who has not taken an opportunity to investigate those opportunities, look into them because they have some huge value. And they’ve lowered some of the barriers to entry for loan programs that some of us may have been denied access to prior to. Also, I would also look at education. Education is a huge gap for us for the remainder of the year, because many events that we’ve had have been canceled. So some of those first-year growers are not going to get that engagement.
VandeVrede: The biggest issue right here is how the consumer now is getting product. You see the whole entire distribution channel shutting down. You got CBD shops that are closing, county vape shops that are closing down where people sometimes get hemp and CBD products. From our from Hillview standpoint, our whole entire distribution channel on our oil, tinctures and gummies have been pretty much shut down, and also the Kalo drink. So I think the strategy for companies that are in this and actually want to pivot is a DTC strategies, where you’re going directly to consumer… Everyone is going to relook at how they purchased food products. Cannabis, hemp, and I think the value chain where it’s going to be is DTC because who knows how long this is going to be and who knows how long this is going go back to normal.
We put it we pivoted very quickly and introduced fresh fruits and a DTC strategy actually including our Kalo, which is a hemp drink, our hemp products, which is which is oil, tincture and gummies directly to consumers. I don’t think that’s the long term. It’s an online strategy to deliver to their house. But I think this impacts New Jersey and also impacts nationally.
Watch the video, and let us know if there’s a topic in the in the cannabis space you’d like us to explore. Our next video conference, in collaboration with Advance 360, is on April 22. The webinar, Cannabis and COVID-19: Where Does America Go From Here? presented by Duane Morris, will feature heavyweights in the national arena. Here’s how to sign up.
NJ Cannabis Insider is a weekly subscriber-based newsletter produced by NJ Advance Media, which also publishes NJ.com, The Star-Ledger and other affiliated papers.