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Foothills CBD businesses tackle challeges of growing industry

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By Corinne Westeman

NOTE: This is the first in a series about CBD and foothills residents who use it.

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Researchers are predicting that by 2050, cannabidoil will be in every home.
But Evergreen’s Pure Spectrum founder Brady Bell said he’d like it to be by 2030.
Cannabidoil — often called CBD — comes from hemp and is being researched to find whether it can help with seizures, pain, anxiety, and perhaps even brain diseases.
Hemp, which is actually a cannabis plant, is not the same as marijuana. While marijuana has THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is a psychoactive compound, hemp has such a minor dosage of THC that it doesn’t get people high. CBD must have no more than 0.3 percent THC.
CBD can be sold in tinctures and isolates, but is often incorporated into other products such as face creams, vapes, roll-ons, lotions, soaking salts and wax.
Bell explained that the industry is still relatively new, really springing up after one of the most prominent brands, Charlotte’s Web, started in 2011.
Keith Baruch, who owns Taspen’s Organics in Conifer, and Bell explained that CBD affects a mammal’s endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for proper cell function and healing. They said phytocannabinoids interact with the system and help replace unhealthy cells with healthy ones, thus creating homeostasis.
“Taking CBD for our bodies, it’s like taking vitamins,” Bell said.
Baruch said he takes it preventatively — to replace cancerous cells with healthy ones — but his customers take it for all sorts of ailments, such as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches, arthritis, neuropathy, lower back pain, tight shoulders. People also have used it to help their pets, he added.
“It’s amazing; it’s life-changing,” Baruch said.
He described how, at a recent show he attended, he met a woman who has having difficulty walking, and shortly after putting it on her knee, she was kicking it without issue.
One challenge in this budding industry, both men said, is the stigma of hemp and its association with marijuana.
“We’ve had this propaganda put in place to turn us away from true plant healing,” Bell said. “If people just take the time to research, the story tells itself.”

Growing pains
When it comes to hemp, Colorado has the most progressive attitude of any state in the country, said Thuy Vu, chief compliance officer at Evergreen’s Hammer Enterprises. More than 30 states have an industrial hemp program, but some of them only allow universities to grow it to conduct research; meanwhile, Colorado allows for commercial growth.
Unlike the 30-some states that have industrial hemp programs, Colorado regulates it as a food product.
“That makes it okay to introduce it into various types of foods, so long as it comes from a pure source,” Vu said. “No other state’s health departments look at it that way.”
However, the entire process is regulated to ensure the source of hemp products are pure, which includes the Colorado Department of Agriculture certifying the farms where hemp is grown and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment overseeing it from cultivation to retail, she explained.
CDPHE monitors all hemp products, Vu continued, especially to ensure the material has less than 0.3 percent THC so it meets the definition of industrial hemp. Industry members also aren’t allowed to make any health benefit claims, and all products have to be labeled properly.
As momentum grows in the hemp and CBD industries, Vu said she’s confident that regulations will change at the federal level, although she believes that the state’s regulations might become stricter.
The regulatory environment is likely one of the reasons the CBD industry has taken off in Colorado, she suggested. And, as it grows, it’s important that companies like Hammer Enterprises are leading those conversations with regulatory agencies, Vu said.
 “As with marijuana, I see that Colorado is going to be at the forefront of the cannabis movement,” she continued. “And, now we’re at the forefront for industrial hemp.”

Experimentation
Along with the regulatory side, another challenge both customers and producers are testing out the quality and potency of CBD products.
While Taspen’s Organics has been making herbal remedies for more than 10 years, Baruch only started making CBD products last year through Taspen’s sister company, Dragonfly Botanicals.
Baruch said he works with a friend, who extracts the CBD, but he’s found that not all hemp oil is the same.
He compared it to the wine industry, saying that quality varies based on the source.
Bell, likewise, has found that there’s a difference in products based on their manufacturers, saying that when he first started, there was no consistency among the free-sell products he was offering.
“There’s no quality-control standard, so a lot of people are importing bad material from China and other countries,” he said, explaining that Pure Spectrum sells farm-to-table products. “To me, anybody selling their own brand should be able to tell their own experience. Like with food products, you need to be able to track it back to the source.”
Dosage is another issue that can be tricky with CBD products, as everyone is different and some people have more pain than others, Bell and Baruch said.
“People want instructions, that’s the thing,” Baruch said. “If you have a lot of pain, take a little bit more; it’s never going to hurt. If you can afford to take $1.50 (of the product) a day, then use that much a day.”
He added that he’s seen maybe one in a thousand people return the product, adding, “I’ve had people return it because they don’t want pot in the house.”
Bell said Pure Spectrum has close to an 82 percent retention rate on its products, and believes other companies are seeing similar responses.
Kathryn Mitchem, who runs Pure Spectrum’s marketing, said she’s noticed that oftentimes, people who don’t see the effects of CBD are those who don’t take it every day.
“We have so many success stories that we (at Pure Spectrum) hear on a daily basis … and we all share our personal stories, too,” Mitchem said.
Bell noted that as an industry, CBD is growing rapidly, and he hopes that people will take the time to get over the stigma of hemp and research CBD for themselves.

Contact reporter Corinne Westeman at 303-567-4491 or cwesteman@evergreenco.com, and follow her on Twitter @cwesteman.