How to Start Providing CBD Products
Many providers of pain management solutions face a dilemma with CBD: they know that there is a good opportunity for it, but they don’t know how to get into the market. How can they get started?
They say the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step, but sometimes taking it feels likes like taking a stride into the future and more like stumbling into the unknown. When it comes to the CBD market, many providers might be experiencing that exact dilemma: they know that there is a good opportunity for it, but they don’t know what they’re getting into. If you’re feeling that way, the first thing you should do is take a deep breath, relax, and know that the territory isn’t as unknown as you think it is.
For many providers, particularly those who offer pain management solutions, CBD offers an attractive way to drive significant additional retail revenue while addressing a problem that impacts a wide swath of patient groups — pain.
If you’re not sure what CBD is, we’re talking about one of the compounds called cannabinoids that are produced by the cannabis plant. The first cannabinoid most everyone has heard of is THC, the psychoactive component in recreational marijuana. CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is the cannabinoid often used in managing pain issues, as well as insomnia and sometimes anxiety.
CBD products are sold in varying dosages that might or might not contain very small percentages of THC, as well. The products range from oil tinctures taken under the tongue, capsules, gummies and lotions. Consumers can buy them online and, depending on what state a person lives in, her or she can buy it at retail establishments.
CBD AND THE LAW
An initial point of trepidation for many providers when it comes to CBD is the law. From a legal and cultural perspective, cannabis has been so stigmatized that some providers might think there’s something illicit about CBD. There isn’t. In fact, the Federal government has made it a point to legitimize CBD when it comes to the law.
The 2018 Farm Bill, which was signed into law at the very end of the 115th Congress in late December, removed industrial hemp production from the Controlled Substances Act. This gives Federal protection to both hemp farmers and CBD sellers.
That said there are still state statutes. In the 10 states where cannabis is entirely legal for medicinal and recreational use — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington — it is clearly legal to sell and use CBD oil, according to CBD producer Green Roads. And, in the three states that legally prohibit all cannabis-derived products — Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota — CBD sales remain illegal.
In addition to those states, 23 additional
states allow medical marijuana, and that includes CBD products.
The remaining 14 states have more nuanced or narrow limitations on the sales and use of CBD or medical marijuana.
This should paint a picture of a legal landscape that is evolving toward ubiquitous legal support for a product that is non-recreational product whose intent is beneficial and is non-psychoactive.
The first thing any provider considering CBD is to consult with an attorney on the laws specific to their state. In fact, there are several law firms that specialize in cannabis, marijuana, and hemp-related legal advice.
THE MARKET OPPORTUNITY
That should tell you that any stigma that might have surrounded cannabis has lifted. In fact, not only from a legal perspective but in terms of pure market numbers, CBD is a mainstream product.
There are a variety of statistics on the CBD market, with some more optimistic than others. According to market research firm Brightfield Group, the global CBD market could expand to $22 billion by 2022. Another study from Cowen and Company projects the CBD market to hit roughly $16 billion by 2025. Either way, those are sizable markets.
And they also correlate to the pain management market with which the HME industry is already familiar. Chronic pain is a major public health epidemic that costs the United States $299 billion to $324 billion in lost productivity every year, according to TheGoodBody.com. Approximately 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, with one in 10 experiencing pain every day for three months or more. For pain that lasts longer than 24 hours, the problem is even worse — one in four Americans are affected, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Given those numbers, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that CBD products find a good fit alongside other pain management solutions, such as TENS units, hot/cold therapy, wraps, braces and over-the-counter analgesic creams and lotions.
As mentioned, CBD products come in a variety of product formats, and each product is aimed at satisfying user preferences and expectations. However, because CBD is not a regulated pharmaceutical, providers can’t make claims about what the products actually do. Again, this is why providers will want to ensure they have reliable legal counsel.
Also, providers do need to keep in mind that there is an inventory expense component to the CBD equation, and they will want to pay attention to retail turn times to ensure their inventory overhead doesn’t complicate their cash flow.
If anything, the primary inventory priority might have less to do with how the CBD is delivered and more about the nature of the product. Providers should take care to understand the ways CBD is manufactured.
A key consideration is that there are different types of CBD. Some CBD products are based on an isolate of CBD, meaning that it is just the CBD and nothing else. Other products are what is called a full- or broadspectrum CBD products. This means the CBD is harvested and packaged in a product in such a way that it contains other chemicals found in the cannabis plant that work together with the CBD in a way that experts say increases its efficacy.
Bearing that in mind, it will be important for HME providers to ensure that both their patients and staff have the right understanding about CBD in terms of options, benefits and use. This starts with educating staff so that they are completely on top of the product options and benefits available to patients just like any other product that a provider might offer. Then they want to ensure that their marketing communications and advertising to patients continues with that educational approach.
And, like many HME offerings, the vendors of CBD products are often there to help with educational materials and pamphlets, and some even offer sales support in the form of advisors that can help steer patients to the most sensible, appropriate solution for them.
POINTS TO REMEMBER:
- CBD might represent all new territory for providers of pain management solutions, but it offers a solution to a wide variety of patients.
- The pain management market is massive, and the CBD market could represent up to $22 billion of that market in the next four years.
- Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD and other industrial hemp products (i.e., non-recreational products derived from cannabis) are now legal from a Federal perspective. However, the states vary (see “Learn More”).
- CBD products range from oils to lotions to pills and other formats. Ultimately the delivery of the CBD product isn’t as important as they type of CBD that is in the product.
- Educating your staff and your patients on CBD will be critical in succeeding in this market.
Green Roads and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws provide state-by-state breakdowns on state CBD laws on their web sites, greenroadsworld.com and norml.org.
This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of HME Business.