by Gail March Yerke
Does your farmers market offer cannabidiol (CBD) creams, lotions, tinctures and soaps? As today’s marketplace demand for hemp-derived products continues to grow, farmers markets across the country are receiving applications from vendors offering such merchandise. There’s a lot for market managers to consider. What are the legal implications of including CBD products at your market and what expectations should be placed on vendors? With the multiple layers of local and state regulations as well as those of the FDA and the FTC, knowing these guidelines is your key to success.
“CBD and Farmers Markets” was a recent program led by Attorney Jeff Glazer, clinical associate professor at the University Wisconsin Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic. For the past 20 years, Glazer has led the Ogden-Glazer & Schaefer law firm team on issues for all three product tiers of industry regulation: manufacturing, distribution and retail. He regularly speaks and testifies at government proceedings as a recognized expert for the alcohol industry with a client portfolio that includes breweries, distilleries, wineries and other such regulated businesses.
So how does this apply to CBD sales at farmers markets? It’s all about following government regulations for the hemp industry and its products. For example, Glazer explained that it is in your market’s best interest to review and verify a vendor’s source documentation of CBD products. This includes the entire supply chain from grower to processor to packaging. While not currently required at the federal level, individual states can and do require this type of certification to verify that the hemp has passed required lab testing.
Glazer pointed out that Wisconsin requires growers to obtain a “Fit for Commerce” certification for industrial hemp. The certificate proves that the hemp crop has passed lab tests for 0.3% or lower THC levels. Licensed processors must obtain a copy of this certification for all hemp used in their production line. Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture and Trade Commission has the authority to seize hemp found without certification and may suspend or revoke grower or processor licenses.
CBD products must meet applicable FDA requirements and standards, just like other FDA-regulated products that today include foods, dietary supplements, human and veterinary drugs and cosmetics. These safeguards ensure that Americans have access to safe and accurately labeled products.
The FTC regulates any deceptive advertisement of the same. Glazer advised that sellers should avoid promoting any unproven benefits of their CBD products. That includes everything from a vendor’s table signage at the farmers market to social media ads or website content. Claims of health benefits or cures for common ailments are not legal under today’s rulings. “About the only thing you can say about CBD products is that you sell them,” he concluded.
Jennifer Krawcznski of Erthscentials CBD sells their product line at the Kenosha Harbor Farmers Market in Wisconsin. The open-air market is located along Lake Michigan and operates every Saturday mid-May through mid-October. Offering fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese, floral bouquets, baked goods and other processed food products, the popular European-style market draws an average of 8,000 to 9,000 visitors each Saturday and has seen as many as 14,000 in one day. Erthscential CBD offerings are a recent addition to the market that hosts more than 100 vendors each week.
Managing the operations of their family business together with husband Jason, daughter Cheyenne and son-in-law Patrick, she said that the Milwaukee-based company produces a complete line of CBD products including tinctures, lotions, edibles and flowers. They are a state licensed processor and their hemp is sourced from farmers meeting the Wisconsin industrial hemp certification requirements.
Krawcznski explained that their customer base is about 65% women and that the typical shopper is at least 40 years old or older. “We like to have one-on-one conversations with customers at the market to answer questions about our CBD products. We also offer free samples of lotions for them to try,” she said. Their booth is typically staffed with two to three people to accommodate this interaction. “We love the vibe and energy at the Kenosha Harbor Market,” she added. “Even though our business is expanding, I think we will always do farmers markets.”
The company sells online and retails from their main dispensary in Bay View along with four other locations in southeastern Wisconsin. When asked about the application process for the Kenosha market, Krawcznski said that a company liability insurance declaration was required. As far as any state certification requirements, she explained, “We lab test all of our finished products and also bring all of that documentation to the farmers market.” The company utilizes fourth party lab testing to guarantee a minimum stated potency on all of their 250 products.
By knowing your individual state and federal regulations, market managers have an opportunity to offer CBD products for customers. A second step application process might include documenting the vendor’s industrial hemp source as well as processor licensing. While it may not be good fit for every market, there is definite growing interest in CBD products across the country.