Selling CBD Products Online from the US
Cannabis, By Any Other Name, Would Sell as Sweet
CBD isn’t an acronym. It’s just a shorter and easier to pronounce way to refer to “cannabidiol” and the products made from it. CBD is one of more than one hundred chemical compounds in the “cannabinoid” family. Cannabinoids occur naturally in several plant species to a lesser degree, but all of them can be derived at scale from the family of cannabis plants. The marijuana – legal and illegal – is one member of the cannabis family.
Yes, I know that there are actually a whole bunch of cannabinoids – from CBD and CBG to CBN and CBC and beyond. Like I said, there are more than a hundred of them. And many of them are being added to products. But the industry appears to have focused on CBD both specifically and generically, so that’s what we’ll use here.
Cannabis & CBD Have a Public Relations Problem
For some people, the mere mention of the word “cannabis” brings to mind images of pot-smoking stoners slumped in their basement with a bag of Doritos. For others, it’s a misunderstood plant whose many varieties and strains have productive purposes from making synthetic fibers in clothing, deriving topical creams and lotions, distilling essential oils and treatments, various medicinal applications, to even making paper sustainably while not cutting down a single tree. CBD generally is used to refer to cannabis plants and extracts with a very low level of natural THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – the intoxicating chemical in marijuana that makes you high and gives you the munchies.
No matter what your opinion is about cannabis, one thing is certain – there is a CBD craze sweeping the developed world. A flurry of new products has hit the market, demand is high, and the business is smok’in hot.
The Challenges of Selling CBD Products in the United States
We’re not here to discuss the science or politics of it. We’re in the business of helping folks sell their stash online – from CBD oils and lotions to hemp products of all legal kinds.
Turns out that Shopify agrees. They have long had special landing pages to support different industries – from clothing and jewelry to art and auto parts. And in September of 2019, they took the leap into the maryjane menagerie by creating a special configuration on their eCommerce platform to support the online sales and distribution of hemp-derived CBD products for merchants based in the United States.
This is a big deal because there is still a lot of controversy about cannabis products across the country. There are various federal laws that allow for the use of hemp (the fibrous stalks of some cannabis plants) and other derivative products. Others are prohibited. It gets really complex because individual states have a jumbled hash of laws in their jurisdictions that conflict with each other and sometimes even with federal law (which they’re not supposed to do, but state politicians get crazy).
This means that common carriers (shipping and logistics companies) and payment processing companies (banks and credit cards) can get in trouble based upon where their headquarters are located, where they have branches, and whether or not they do business with federal or state governments. That’s a lot of political and legal grass to weed through just to make a little cabbage. So, a lot of those financial and logistics companies have determined that it’s just not worth the risk until all the legal and regulatory agencies get their collective acts together (I wouldn’t hold your breath).
Shopify to the CBD Rescue
That’s what makes Shopify’s effort important. As a Canada-based company, their hosting platform is not subject to the same conflicting laws and regulations. And they have put together a joint solution with select logistics and payment processing partners specifically designed to support the budding CBD vendor in the United States. Not to mention, they have a team of potent attorneys on staff to make sure that the agreements navigate the legal waters.
Now, we have no idea whether the top brass at Shopify is pro cannabis or con (although they are Canadians, so …). And the shareholders of Shopify stock probably don’t care either way, as long as the user-base expands. So Shopify has jumped into the CBD craze, making them the gonzo – or ganja – platform of choice in the market.
Somewhat ironically, Shopify shouted, “Us Too!” in an attempt to get their fair share of the Acapulco Gold business shortly after Big Commerce lit up the CBD market with their own solution a few weeks prior. But, as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And Shopify’s edge in full-stack eCommerce solutions gives them a solid lead.
You can read more about Shopify’s solution for online CBD merchants here. And this is a link to their official announcement on September 17, 2019.
If you need help tweaking or setting up your Shopify store, you know that’s what we do. Just start a task and we’ll give you a hand.
PS: You should have seen all the puns I didn’t use.