Leafreport Courtney Quinn: Hi, my name is Courtney Quinn , here with Leafreport at the USA CBD Expo in Miami and I’m here with Tony from Your CBD Store and SunMed.
How are you, Tony?
Tony: I’m doing well. How are you?
Leafreport Courtney Quinn: Good. Thank you. Can you tell us a little bit about your company and its history?
Tony: Yeah. We’re basically a storefront location that pops up in local communities and they all source our products. So, we provide SunMed is the name of our brand that we sell to consumers and we do it through storefronts because we think that that’s a better place to have a conversation about CBD, to learn about CBD. They don’t have to purchase it right away. They can try samples and then, they can come back in and go about figuring out what products best for them. So, that’s the model we’re running under. We’re very different than the online space, I would say, right now. So, that’s where we are right now.
Leafreport Courtney Quinn: Very cool.
Tony: We have 400 storefronts right now across the country in 38 different states.
Leafreport Courtney Quinn:Wow. That’s impressive. Awesome.
Tony: Growing very, very fast.
Leafreport Courtney Quinn: Yeah. What can you tell us about your manufacturing process.
Tony: What’s interesting about me is I have my PhD in analytical chemistry. So, when I first started, we had about 12 storefronts and at that point, we really wanted to figure out how were we going to touch this stuff, how are we going to make sure that it’s safe and then, how are we going to make sure that we push this industry in that direction too.
What we do is I have my own HPLC, which is done for potency and it’s how everybody tests for potency in this industry. And, I actually have it in my own lab and I run samples on our stuff during manufacturing. We, also, pool together all of our samples, send that off in third-party lab, test that with a full panel of tests. And then, we do batch testing throughout that.
Our testing is probably one of the most annoying conversations I have with my CEOs, like we need to keep doing this test. They’re like, okay, whatever. It’s a lot of money. I’m like, well, it’s worth it.
So, at this point I feel we hit that point where we’re setting a standard. Every single bottle has a QR code on it. It’s tied to a batch number that anybody can pull up. You don’t have to actually buy the products. It [inaudible 00:02:19]. You can go check it out beforehand.
Our transparency’s what’s driven us to success over about a year we’ve grown this much. That’s really, I think, our manufacturing stronghold that we do all of the stuff ourselves. We don’t white label anything. Anything that we do, we go talk to the manufacturer, show them what CBD is and how to do it in a product and execute it in the right way.
Leafreport Courtney Quinn: Very cool.
Leafreport Courtney Quinn: What’s your story with the CBD industry? How did you get familiar with CBD?
Tony: My background, like I said, is in analytical chemistry and what I did was started to do research and terpenes at first and plant-based materials. And then, I discovered the CBD research that was emerging about five years ago, and from there I was dead set that this was going to help change natural medicine and help give a good face to a natural solution that opioids or other pain relievers or things like that were diminishing and starting to … All the side effects are associated with …
At that point, I decided I’m going to try to put science into the CBD industry. So, that’s been my goal, as a chemist, is to inject as much rhetoric, as much rigor, everything that we can about … How do we understand how cannabinoids are working and what is important when it comes to vetting a product kind of thing.
Leafreport Courtney Quinn: That’s great. Do you have any thoughts you can share about the current legal status of CBD?
Tony: It’s an interesting question. I’ve actually taken meetings with the USDA in DC, where their chief of staff and a couple other senators, people in Florida. We’ve helped write bills that were important to batching out things. In Florida, we have a senate bill, 1020, that actually requires QR Code testing and we helped be a part of that conversation.
I think at this point the FDA and other people are going to begin to do regulations, so we want to help be ahead of that. We want to do more than that because the more people, after they understand what CBD is, after about five or six months, they start to look into more and more questions. And it really comes down to transparency, so know what every single input is in there, where it comes from, what facility it went through, who handled it, what protocols were done during handling it, those are all important questions that we need to answer as an industry.
So, I think if we just make sure that we’re ahead of the legislation and don’t just … well, it’s not regulated, so we don’t care about these questions that consumers care about. That’s when companies are going to run into trouble, legally. Hopefully, we’re well above that, but you know, these things change all the time, legalities of CBD regulations. But, we’re able to adapt because of our manufacturing practices, I think.
Leafreport Courtney Quinn: Very nice. There are a lot of brands demand hype and products, but there are no specific guidelines and regulations restricting the market. Could you give a brief overview of the emerging market from your point of view?
Tony: Yeah, I think it’s similar to what I was just touching on a bit. I think the industry needs to do a lot of self-regulation, making sure that we’re … Our intention is to help people and a lot of these people have compromising immune systems, so mold and yeast may be fine if you’re manufacturing some soda or adult beverage, for example, but at this point we’re dealing with such sensitive ecosystems and people that we need to really be careful about what’s going into our products. So, I think that’s the critical piece here as an industry. If you can manufacture with those practices, we should be moving forward pretty well as an industry together.
I’m all about working together with other CBD companies too. So, if there’s ever a question of how to do this, what to test for, I’m always just trying to push CBD forward in that way.
New Speaker: What do you think a user should look for in a product?
Tony: Third-party lab reports, making sure they know what’s in it. They should look for quality ingredients, as well. If there’s other ingredients in there, make sure that the manufacturer can answer what those are and why they’re in there. What’s the intention of them being in there.
I think CBD comes in a lot of different forms too, so there’s topicals, there’s oils, there’s gummies, there’s vapes. Each one of those has its own utility, so each one of those can be used for something that would work for one patient, that wouldn’t work for another. I don’t think it’s as simple as there’s one CBD product that’s perfect for everybody, right?
So, if somebody has a problem with their lungs, they wouldn’t be able to vaporization maybe. If somebody has stomach problems, they wouldn’t use a product that has sorbitol, which is an alcoholic sugar. There’s all those questions that need to be answered, but I think what people need to stop doing is saying that this one CBD thing is the best CBD thing and that’s it.
There’s a range of different forms of it. There’s a range of how it interacts with your body and that really is the answer. It’s not that there this one magic elixir that’s the perfect CBD formulations. That’s just not how this stuff works. It’s been used for centuries and nobody at this point … everyone disagrees as to what is the most important cannabinoid at this point.
Leafreport Courtney Quinn: Do you use CBD yourself and which products, if so?
Tony: I don’t really use CBD as much as probably people would think that I would, but I do test them for new product formulations. So, if I’m ever making a new product, I’ll test it.
But, in general, around the office, we sometimes have stuff lying around from other companies too that are … this certain strain, the certain whatever, so we do test it in that way, but I’m a chemist so, I need to be as non-biased as possible. So, I can’t really just sit there and be obsessed with one product because then I’ll be like, well, that has to be the best one. So, I need to have my view as clear as possible when I’m looking at this stuff too.
Leafreport Courtney Quinn: More of a CBD tester.
Tony: Yes. Exactly.
Leafreport Courtney Quinn: How do you see the future of the CBD industry?
Tony: I think it can go a lot of different ways. I liken it to where big tobacco was, where big alcohol was, right? So, tobacco did this thing where they made up a bunch of scientific things, right? And nobody really knew about all the carcinogen dangers, right? They tried to hide that research. And then, it was an emerging market and now people know what they’re getting out of their cigarette, right? It’s more an honest place, I think. Cigarettes and tobacco.
It can also go the way of alcohol where it’s just marketing. It’s all beer, whatever, like that. But, I think that this has a unique opportunity here to be something that’s different. Something that actually helps people, is for people, can bring farmers to work, can bring communities back to life, can put minorities back to work in places that they haven’t done.
There was a census in 2017 that said something about 95% of farmers are Caucasian and I think that there’s a discrepancy there that’s an issue. I think that this industry has a chance to touch all of these things. It’s so wide reaching right now, and I think that’s exciting, but scary in a lot of ways too because it could fall in those other categories that I mentioned, with alcohol and tobacco, but I think enough people in here knows somebody who’s benefited from CBD or cannabis or whatever. And I think that’s the part that’s pushing people to this, and I think hopefully we come from a helping standpoint rather than a marketing, financial legal standpoint we can fix a lot of problems that we have in this country that were damaged by pharmaceuticals or opioids or things like that.
Leafreport Courtney Quinn: Well, thank you very much for sharing with us, Tony.
Tony: Thank you.