The CBD supplement industry got a big boost when Congress and the President passed the Farm Bill in late 2018 – and one Vancouver company is already well in place to capitalize.
Nutra Pure LLC, maker of CBD oils and capsules under the brand name CBD Pure, got into the industry early when owner CJ Montgomery founded it in 2016. Back then, CBD (also known as cannabidiol) was predominantly only a buzzword in the cannabis community. But as news stories of CBD’s potential non-psychoactive benefits for pain and other medical conditions have grown in the media over the past few years, the demand for CBD products has increased dramatically.
“Getting into this early gave us a little bit of an edge,” Montgomery said. “Although now everybody and their dog is getting into it. We did a bunch of the little things early, though. All of our products are tested at an independent lab, we post test results on our Web page. At the start people didn’t know much about CBD at all, but now they’re looking everything up.”
To shore up its business, the company put a major focus on quality, using organic farming methods and extensively testing all its products. Nutra Pure also joined the Better Business Bureau and initiated quality checks to assure consistency and a 90-day guarantee.
“Once people start to understand CBD, they really enjoy it,” Montgomery said. “I use it myself and I have less stress. It also helps me sleep better.”
Cannabidiol is a component in all types of cannabis – including hemp. It’s a compound called a cannabinoid, the same type of compound as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component of cannabis, but CBD doesn’t create the head high of THC, which is why its popularity is exploding.
CDB hasn’t been extensively studied in the United States, but in smaller studies it has been shown to help slow seizures, decrease arthritis pain and reduce swelling, among a host of other things.
The 2018 Farm Bill (also called the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) basically legalized CBD nationally and gave Nutra Pure, located at 500 Broadway St., Suite 480, a huge spike in sales of close to 6,500 percent for the year – and yes, that’s not a decimal off, he said.
“It was like everyone suddenly found CBD,” Montgomery said. “In 2017 it seemed like nobody knew what it was. We had maybe 100 customers that were re-ordering. But in 2018 that all changed, and our customer base expanded quite a bit.”
The company now has four employees in Vancouver, including two who help with live chats with customers and support staff. It also has representatives in Florida and a team in Indiana.
And Sales are only likely to grow as the CBD health craze continues on a national scale, Montgomery said.
“All of a sudden, interest just exploded,” Montgomery said. “Compared to other supplements, CBD really looks like the future. I’m not the type to get excited about things, but we decided to put our focus on this and it looks like a big growth industry.”
The problem with selling CBD before the Farm Bill passed was that the states had a patchwork of laws to deal with it. A handful of states had rules that made CBD illegal, which made national shipping a hassle for new companies. Other suppliers just ignored the rules and shipped to those states anyway, although Nutra Pure never did, Montgomery said.
“We just refused to ship to those states,” Montgomery said. “We probably could have – but we wanted to be more safe than sorry.”
The farm bill removed most of the gray areas from the law. It added a few limitations on sales, but nothing prohibitive, and it opened the whole country up for sales and shipping, Montgomery said.
“They don’t want people making false claims or hurting someone,” he said. “But coming from the supplement industry I’m used to that and to working with the Food and Drug Administration.”
In some ways, Montgomery had the perfect background to set up a CBD business early. He grew up in Idaho and came to Vancouver about 20 years ago after his law school college friend moved to the area to build his own business.
“My roommate in college was one of the founders of one of the big supplement sites,” Montgomery said. “I was still in college, but he did really well – and I thought maybe I should check this out for a little while.”
He followed his friend to the area and spent about a year setting up his own business, learning about internet advertising and marketing back when those things were first starting off in the early 2000s.
Through that effort he founded his own nutritional supplement company, Speedwinds Nutrition, which he still operates today. He also founded a law practice at about the same time to make use of his law degree, specializing in DUI, family law and civil litigation.
And all that experience, coupled with his legal background, helped him build CBD Pure before the CBD craze started to take off.
“I know the nutritional supplement side of things very well,” Montgomery said. “I was never into weed as a kid, but I saw friends using it for pain and I started looking into it. At first I thought it was just people getting high, but I started to realize there were people using it for legitimate things, and I decided to get involved.”
For now, CBD Pure sources the hemp for its products in Colorado. The company would gladly source its hemp in Washington, but state law around cannabis has made that impossible for the time being, he said.
“I’d love to do that,” Montgomery said. “Right now there are only about 12 of us licensed in Washington that have gone through the steps to register as a CBD business. But under the law, you can grow and market, but you can’t extract product, or you can grow and extract, but you can’t sell product. You can do any two of those things, but not all three under state law.”
He and some other Washington companies are lobbying the Legislature to see if a fix can be found. With the boom in CBD nationwide, Washington farmers could benefit greatly from a change in the law, Montgomery said.
“I grew up in a farming community, and it just makes more sense to do this locally,” Montgomery said. “It’s frustrating for us, but at the same time the state is still figuring out the details.”