59 | Kristen Nichols, Hemp Industry Daily

“Everybody’s like, ‘OK, here’s the rules, big players like Budweiser, Coca Cola, um, Proctor and Gamble.’  The biggest companies in America are ready to hop in this market. They just need FDA to tell us how to do it. Well, here we are. No clue how to do it.”

— Kristen Nichols

Demand for hemp — as a medicine, a textile and a food — was bottled up by nearly a century of prohibition of the plant, due to its relationship to cannabis. Now the genie is out of the bottle, and we know hemp as a viable and valuable crop with many uses. Kristen Nichols directs coverage for the Hemp Industry Daily, and she joins us to discuss why:

  • Jack Herer’s statement about hemp being ‘the only thing that could save the world’ was hype.
  • It’s taking the federal government so long to figure out how to regulate hemp-based products (and it’s not all due to stigma).
  • Smaller CBD companies have an advantage right now.
  • Who wins the presidential election probably doesn’t mean much to the hemp industry.

That and more in this episode: Listen, learn and share!

Transcript of Podcast Episode with Kristen Nichols, Hemp Industry Daily

Copyright © Kannaboom 2020

Kannaboom (00:00): The story of hemp is big, multidimensional and changing, in some ways too fast, in other ways, not fast enough. Our guest today is Kristen Nichols, editor at Hemp Industry Daily, an online publication, who's covering all aspects of this exploding industry, including the science, the business, and the slow-developing regulatory framework around hemp. While Kristen's focus is on the business side of hemp, we cover topics that are of interest to consumers, including the vaping crisis of 2019, a wake up call for CBD hemp companies. How can consumers be sure that they're getting safe and effective CBD products when there are no regulations from the USDA and FDA? We cover all this in a lot more in a pretty brisk half hour or so. And I think you'll get a lot out of our conversation. And this is where I mention that this podcast, my website Kannaboom with a k dot com, and my weekly newsletter, Five Boom Friday are all focused on how cannabinoids and CBD can help you achieve better wellness and how to find CBD that's trusted and reliable. You can subscribe at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Google podcasts, or your favorite podcast player. And if you enjoy the show, please leave a review and help us expand our reach. Thanks to our producer, Danny in Milwaukee. And here's my interview with Kristen Nichols.

Kannaboom (01:09): Cannabis is booming and Kannaboom is on it. Welcome to the Kannaboom Podcast, where we interview experts on the changing story of humans, hemp and health. From San Diego, here's your host, Tom Stacey. It's Tom. Welcome back to Kannaboom, the podcast. Today we have Kristen Nichols, editor at Hemp Industry Daily. Hey Kristen.

Kristen Nichols (01:28): Hi. Thanks so much for having me.

Kannaboom (01:29): So glad you're here. Where are you today?

Kristen Nichols (01:32): Okay. We are in Denver, Colorado.

Kannaboom (01:34): There's fires still burning in Colorado, I think, at this recording.

Kristen Nichols (01:38): Yeah, it is. You can smell it even in Denver, which is on the other side of the state. I know a lot of folks in the West are really dealing with it right now.

Kannaboom (01:46): You're the editor at Hemp Industry Daily, and you guys are doing a great job of covering this emerging industry. I mean, there's so much to talk about between the science, the regulatory end of it and the business end of it. So you've got a big job.

Kristen Nichols (01:59): Well, thanks so much. I've been covering cannabis for a long time and I always say, whatever you think about cannabis, it truly is the miracle drug of news. You're right. There's us, it moves so quickly. And it's so interesting. Everything that happens, it's hard to keep up with

Kannaboom (02:17): Poking around doing some research, and I saw an old quote from Jack Herer who wrote The Emperor Wears No Clothes, where he said, "I'm not saying hemp is going to save the world, but it's the only thing that can." Is that an overstatement or, you know, hemp does so many things. What's the real potential of this plant?

Kristen Nichols (02:34): Frankly that, hype I do... So that book, of course, it's so influential and he was so influential to efforts to legalize hemp. It's important to remember hemp a lot of things that hemp can do, any plant can do for whether it's soil mitigation, taking toxins out of the soil being used in textiles being used as a biofuel, being used as a food source, a lot of these things are in no way unique to hemp. Really truly this plant is so interesting to folks because of its association with high-THC varieties low-THC varieties are really not that much different than kenaf or jute or other commodity crops that have been in rotation for a long time. There was a pretty prominent agronomist at the University of Kentucky who passed away. But he once said in a speech at the USDA, he said hemp has been legal in many countries for decades, and it's not even a grain of sand on the beach of agriculture. And so in some ways it's an, it's an awesome crop, does a lot, but folks who think it will overcome things like soybeans, corn, wheat, and as Jack said, could be the only thing that saves the world. I think that's a lot of hype.

Kannaboom (04:03): That's an interesting perspective. We talk about often on this podcast, almost a hundred years of prohibition resulted in a lot of stigma, but also a lot of pent up, I guess, ignorance that we're just beginning to get some answers to.

Kristen Nichols (04:18): Absolutely.

Kannaboom (04:19): Tell me about Hemp Industry Daily. When you guys started, who your readers are, what your mission is.

Kristen Nichols (04:24): Okay. We cover the entire hemp supply chain. So we write for producers, farmers. We write for manufacturers, extractors and people who make products out of him. And then we write for retailers. We also write for investors. We are a sister publication to Marijuana Business Daily, which is also here in Denver. It won't surprise you a few years back Marijuana Business Daily, which is a great publication, kind of figured out, you know, there are some folks that are just not going to read or advertise or participate or come to shows as long as that word marijuana is in the name. They also realized that, like a lot of folks that hemp could be bigger than marijuana. You know, this industry is huge. It's got really distinct needs, things to cover that are very different than marijuana. It needs its own space. So we're a spinoff of Marijuana Business Daily. We do conferences. We try to write for again, producers, manufacturers, and retailers and investors. And so one thing that is a little different, a lot of folks, right? Also for consumers, we don't focus on consumers. We're interested in writing about, and for the people who are in the business.

Kannaboom (05:45): Wow, what a nice niche. I mean, given the disclaimer we had at the top, it might not be the only thing that can change the world, but there's a lot we can do. I mean, it's a textile, it's a fuel, it's a food source. There's many dimensions to this.

Kristen Nichols (06:00): Absolutely. Uh hemp. And that makes it very interesting. It also makes hemp its own worst enemy in some ways, because frankly it is, it does so much that it's so hard, and we'll get into this. It is so hard to figure out how to regulate it, who should be in charge, what the market uses are. It's a challenge for farmers. It's a challenge for regulators. It's a challenge for really everybody to figure out where to kind of niche, this awesome plant.

Kannaboom (06:30): Well, and everybody needs some clear-eyed analysis and you know, what you guys do. I saw recently you hosted an online debate between a couple of people. There's a lot of value in that besides, you know, what a normal publication quote, unquote, normal publication in the past, you just, you put out print, but now there's many other ways you can come at it.

Kristen Nichols (06:50): Sure. And again, there are so many folks that write for consumers and we're not we're look, we're looking to talk to folks who were actually, you know, hands dirty making this stuff and growing this stuff. What do they need to know? Cause it doesn't really help them to here's 10 new, awesome face creams. You know, you can, you can buy with CBD in it, which is a lot of the coverage. We try to get beyond that. And also beyond frankly, there's a lot of, like you pointed out, there's a lot of obstinance kind of from traditional ag media to cover this plant. So there's not a lot of resources. Jack Herer truly is, the man's dead, but it's probably one of the best resources you have for growing him where if you're growing again, corn, wheat, soy, or you have libraries full of the latest research and the latest assistance from your state and county ag departments in hemp, it's changing. But right now, boy, you gotta bootstrap a lot of this yourself.

Kannaboom (07:52): We used to call that blue ocean, where there's just, there's so much out there that there's room for you to cover all kinds of things. You know, we talked a little bit about science and regulation and the whole business side. What's the biggest challenge right now is, is it in the regulatory, the absence of a regulatory framework?

Kristen Nichols (08:11): Totally. two fronts, one no one knows what USDA is going to do. The Farm Bill two years ago said, okay, hemp, as long as it's a variety of cannabis below this made up level of THC, is going to be regulated by USDA, not DEA and the Department of Justice, an enormous leap forward for the hemp industry. Folks have been hollering for years that this is not a drug, doesn't need to be treated like a drug. So that's one thing. So USDA now they're in charge. Yay. Great news. Everybody celebrated. Well, here we are. Two years later, USDA is still a hot mess in terms of how this is going to look. I got on this call, New York state, big, big hemp producer, you know, big state, big lots of production there, lots of manufacturing there said, you know what? USDA, we don't even want any part of these rules, we're out. So what are you supposed to do if you're a farmer in New York or you have a factory in New York you know, you're just kind of at a loss. So that's one angle, a huge challenge about those rules. On the other side, we've got the FDA, they regulate kind of everything you put in your mouth and rub on your body. They have been looking at CBD for years. They had this big public hearing over a year ago, everybody's still waiting. Everybody's like, okay, here's the rules, big players like Budweiser, Coca Cola Proctor and Gamble. The biggest companies in America are ready to hop in this market. They just need the FDA to tell us how to do it. Well, here we are. No clue how to do it. Consumers and manufacturers, everyone's at a loss about trying to wing all of this without any assistance from the feds. Everything is slow and confusing.

Kannaboom (10:05): Well, and that kind of uncertainty can freeze investment. I mean, businesses hate not knowing what the regulatory framework is going to look like.

Kristen Nichols (10:14): They do. And I would say too, I know that it's doom and gloom and you hear nothing but crankiness about FDA and these rules, but for the flip side and where we come in, try to cover this. It's an advantage for small players. Let's say I have four acres. I'm making topicals and tinctures and doing extraction on my farm. Well, you know, when these big players Proctor and Gamble and Kraft and everybody else is making it, how are you competing right now? You're in a space because you might have a higher tolerance for risk, right? Pepsi-Cola, doesn't have a big risk tolerance. They don't, they're not going to get in this as long as they're not sure if they can. So if you're making a CBD drink and you're a smaller player, you're bootstrapped a company together. This is a great time for you because there's a lot of consumer interest, but you don't have big competition. So everything can, there's a business advantage in the uncertainty. But certainly this industry is going to change when we get some certainty.

Kannaboom (11:17): Well, right now there's a lot of innovation because as you said, without regulation, people can try different things. See how it goes. This is an unknown uncharted sort of path. I don't know of any other commodity that has just, shall we say unflowered, like so quickly, does the federal government unable to handle this kind of a scenario or do we expect to see cooperation between the USDA and the FDA? Do they work that way? Do we have any expectation for when we can get some clarity on this picture?

Kristen Nichols (11:51): Everyone wants it to be, I don't know. I think I like to point folks to other dietary supplements and natural products, right? So we have how drugs are regulated, that drug like Tylenol and then we have food like, you know cereal and pasta. Then there's this third category of dietary supplements, like vitamin C , fish, oil supplements, ginseng. Those kinds of things are regulated differently. Again, under a kind of a hybrid regulation called DeShay (DSHEA) that the FDA oversees looking back, it took decades. It took something like more than a dozen years for the FDA to figure out how to regulate vitamin C and vitamin C, I would say is not as complicated for what it does in your body as a cannabinoid extract where you have a whole endocannabinoid system. So I know it's very frustrating and I don't think it's, it's some kind of bias or drug war mentality. It really is just that our federal government now that this is again out of the black market, out of the illicit side and out of, you know, friends and neighbors, just bootstrapping things illegally in the backyard, in the basement, the fact that it's federal, they're just a slow moving agency that need years, sometimes of data about how safe and effective things are before we're kind of clearing them to the American consumer. I do think that's an important gatekeeper role they play. But of course we know consumers don't necessarily wait for the FDA to say a product is safe and effective before taking it. That's exactly what's happening in hemp. Folks say, 'Oh, this is terrible.' the FDA would say anything. We would at least have some safety protocols. The FDA is saying, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa. We really think that even any kind of clearance is just too soon to tell folks they can take stuff and we don't know how they're going to use it.' And we don't want to be in a position 20 years from now. We got a bunch of people with some kind of health condition that we didn't anticipate from this product. We cleared way back when this has happened with other products. I think folks that have been using cannabis all their lives would say, 'Oh, come on. That's, that's a joke. It's not gonna, there's not really a problem. You can't have too much cannabis in your system.' but I do think the feds not necessarily looking to drug war propaganda, are looking to other things that were thought to be healthy. And that years later, the feds had real egg on their face for not blocking it sooner.

Kannaboom (14:37): I mean, last year, at this time, we were beginning to get a lot of news about vaping and cartridges and people getting sick from that. After about 10 years of them being out there, millions of people were using them and then people started dying. So is that sort of a cautionary tale for you?

Kristen Nichols (14:52): You brought that up. Cause I think that that is a perfect example of where you had a slow-moving FDA, right? Vapes, e-cigarettes and nicotine products too, were starting to start to pop up, technology advancing. They look super healthy. They're being sold as alternatives to smoking. You're not combusting anything. Everyone really sees them as the healthy alternative to smoking, usage cranks up, the FDA is really slow-footed. It's like later, like, 'Whoa, what is this stuff?' they are just in the middle of looking at it. When you have some unscrupulous producers, people who maybe are taking shortcuts, just getting flooding stuff to market, not making things as effectively or safely as they could to capitalize on the market while the FDA kind of hems and haws on what to do, kids start dying. And then the feds were like, 'Oh wait, this is a, this is a crisis, everybody stop!' Turns out most of those sicknesses and illnesses, we now know came from these again, cheap elicit products that were not made as safely as they could have been. And these deaths could have been prevented. Perhaps if the FDA had acted sooner — where this is a cautionary tale for CBD is not because, you know, God-willing, kids are not going to start showing up in hospitals over CBD exposure. But the lesson being when the feds don't act, or when regulators take too long to evaluate all the angles of how something should be done, the market doesn't wait, consumers, don't wait. And you really open people up to potentially getting sick from bad actors. That's definitely happening in CBD because the feds aren't acting.

Kannaboom (16:47): Right. When you're talking about vaping cartridges, the technology came along that allowed manufacturers to sort of aerosolize, with fat, a crystal. But with CBD, you know, people have been taking hemp slash cannabis for thousands of years without ill effects. However, as you say with bad actors, you could have an adulterated product out there. We know that when you're growing hemp, you could have mold, you could have pesticide residue, you could have solvent residue, all that stuff, which without regulation could be making its way into the market.

Kristen Nichols (17:18): Yeah. And you mentioned Hunter Land. He's a real smart guy, formerly of GW Pharmaceuticals. Now working over the counter cannabis products. He brought up, 'Do you hear that a lot? Oh, this is safe. We've been eating this for thousands of years.' He brought up, 'Well, not the way we're doing it. Now this, this crop has been modified and bred to be very different.' The kind, the levels of CBD people are taking, let's say you're taking a tincture, a capsule, a gel cap. You're consuming, even under the safest protocols you're consuming, what would be basically a field full of hemp every day. Those were not levels people were consuming thousands of years back. So there, it can be presumed that it's safe because it's always been around. You hear that a lot from the industry, 'Oh, these, these lack of doodle do-nothing regulators. They just hate cannabis. They're so stupid.' Well, all kinds of things can make you sick. If you don't eat them or consume them the way they are in nature, you can, you can die from overexposure to all kinds of things that are commonly in nature. There's a former chief medical officer in Colorado who he would push back on folks that say, you know, you hear this a lot. This is in marijuana. And now in hemp, you hear a lot, 'Well, it's a plant, right? It's just a plant. Why are we freaking out? It's just a plant.' And the former chief medical officer would say, you know what? There's not a lot of meat-based medicine. All medicine comes from a plant. Arsenic. It comes from a plant all kinds of things that can kill you and are very dangerous, can come from plants. So just because it comes from a plant and then you modify it in the lab, you concentrate it, you do all the things we're doing to lots of stuff, including cannabis. It's a different ball game. So I think caution is in order. But again, I think the slowness of how things are being regulated is really to the detriment of consumers and the industry.

Kannaboom (19:27): Well, and back to that regulatory aspect of it, and just the slow-footed response from the feds. Does it make any difference who gets elected in November?

Kristen Nichols (19:38): I don't know. It's important to note that I think this is what's great for hemp, relative to even marijuana, which is a broad support in both parties right now, for example we think there's, there's a huge battle royale for control of the Senate. Well, the top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, huge advocates for hwmp, have both spoken up really vociferously and to help the industry. So for that reason, I think hemp folks can feel assured that there's not going to be a big crack. And I don't think we're going to hear hemp play any kind of role in the presidential race at the same time. Of course, the USDA, the FDA, those leaders are appointed by the White House. We've seen the effects. For example, whenever we were talking about the USDA now regulates hemp So USDA spent a year looking at it. They did, this is how Washington works. They sent, they have some USDA by the way, their promotional for ag. So they are pretty much pro farmer, pro market. They send their suggestions to the White House. That's how it works. You're an agency. You in the executive branch, you come up with a new rule on whoever you send it to the White House. Well then the White House gets their take on it. And other agencies can weigh in. Well, guess what, who is more important in most administrations than the USDA? It's Justice. So we have an attorney general, who weighs in, and here's what they think about these rules. The rules changed in the case of USDA. Those rules changed a lot. When they went to the White House, Justice got involved. Now the DEA is involved. They're like, 'Whoa, Whoa, Whoa.' And the final rules that came out, didn't look like what people in industry wanted to see. Even people in USDA openly saying, Oh, this was not our idea. So elections definitely matter. It's going to matter who leads the Department of Justice? It's gonna matter. Who's in the White House in terms of these rules taking effect and how they're enforced? Don't forget that no agency has an unlimited budget. They all have to decide what the priorities are. You're the FDA. Let's talk about that. You're the FDA. Okay. You've got this rabid black market CBD all over the place. Well, kids aren't dying about it. No, one's turning up in hospitals, sick. You also at the FDA have a million other things to worry about. You've got an opioid crisis. You've got, of course a pandemic. We're trying to find a vaccine for. You've got all kinds of other priorities to spend your time and energy on. So certainly elections matter where this industry, not just of course, ham, but also marijuana. What kind of priority that is for the federal government really kind of depends on who's in charge. And we're going to see some big differences. However, I know I keep saying, but, but, but the overall cannabis experiment, which I would say goes back decades now, in terms of experiment with legalizing, when California flouted the feds in the nineties and said, if you were going to allow marijuana for six people, we have seen different parties in charge, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump. And this industry has grown under all of them. So I would say no doom and gloom, the end isn't near, depending on the outcome of the election. There's a way to thrive and survive. No matter who's in charge, we have seen neither party is really going to stop this cannabis revolution that's happening. They don't have the, nobody wants it. Nobody wants to stop. It was what I mean. So I wouldn't, I wouldn't keep me up at night, but it's certainly something to watch. Long answer to a short story.

Kannaboom (23:47): What I hear you saying, it's a long, slow multi-decade transition from where we were to, to where we're going. And of course, all the machinery of government moves quite slowly. I mean, there's politics involved, there's culture. And as we know, during prohibition, there were, there was a racist underpinning to marijuana is bad, jazz musicians and Mexicans use it. And all of that we know is in the past, we're trying to transition into a future where this medicine is available. And it's also another layer of complexity to this. When you talk about the regulatory aspect is it's a textile. You can make clothing out of it. You can make hempcrete. How do you regulate those? Or do you just say, you guys, aren't part of this. You don't have to follow this documentation path. You have a different path. Is that another piece of it?

Kristen Nichols (24:39): Absolutely. It's so confusing. We used to cover the Colorado state government. So about 10 years ago when they started looking at this more than two, 10 years ago, that was the big issue. Is this a medicine? Is this like food, something you eat? Is it like something you smoke like tobacco again? Or is it something totally different? Like a fuel, you know, the way the government regulates ethanol and petroleum, the way the government regulates tobacco and the way the government regulates something like Tylenol boy, these are all totally different agencies, totally different regimes. How do you see these into one that is such a challenge. And again, that's why I say sometimes I think hemp and cannabis are their own worst enemies, just because the plant is so amazing. It's really hard for folks to figure out,

Kannaboom (25:31): Well, let me ask you, what's your favorite part of this as you cover it day by day, you know, there's so much to this story. It's a big, big story for our time. And, and you're, you're so lucky to have, have a front seat at it.

Kristen Nichols (25:44): Absolutely. I was a ag reporter for a long time before I started covering cannabis again about 15 years ago. And, but you're right. Miracle drug of news. It's so interesting to cover. What I'm interested to see is really just how this industry matures and I'm looking forward to it getting boring. If you are spending any time in agriculture, boy, going to like a corn board meeting or other kinds of, you know, what are the new, the EPA is looking at a new pesticide regime for strawberries, boy, snooze-a-roo. I do think one day hemp and marijuana regulations will be just that boring, but they're not yet. And that's going to be really fun and interesting to watch if you're a kind of a government wonk and a plant geek, I'm both. So boy, this is the best place to be right now in terms of watching where it happens. Certainly volatile for folks in industry. I don't want to sound flip about how painful these times are to navigate for folks, but for a reporter boy, what a great place to be,

Kannaboom (26:54): Right. There's regulatory and there's science, and there's also the sort of business side to it. And we talked a little bit about that, about how small players are kind of at an advantage right now, where the boundaries aren't clear. You don't know when you have a first down or a second down. So how do you see the business end of this going? Do you see a wave of consolidations eventually, are the big gonna get bigger and begin to dominate? Is it going to be state by state or is it going to be more of a federal framework that we'll be following?

Kristen Nichols (27:23): Yeah, I think federal, I think again, advantage for a, a risk happy or somebody with a high tolerance of risk. It is a risky industry to invest in state by state so it is frustrating to big investors. They're just not really gonna play until they get a clear signal that how this is going to work one day, I think not just a hemp and CBD extracts, but also larger marijuana. It's going to be an ingredient like an ingredient you put in any food or dietary supplement. It's not terribly sexy or interesting. And the returns won't be high for investors. So now is the time if you have a risk tolerance, I do not think the kinds of returns, and it's very volatile, but the kinds of money people are making in extracts from cannabis are not the kinds of money you make from extracts, from other plants. You don't make this. And like the echinacea market, you know, or other kinds of commodities we were talking about industrial uses say, you're making components for car doors and roofing and textiles. You don't see these kinds of returns. They're probably not going to last forever. It's going to settle out, get real boring, and become a commodity, just like any other.

Kannaboom (28:41): Right. Prices will fall. What you see in every market will, will occur. Sure. You know, we've talked about the fact that we're in a long, slow transition from a prohibited schedule, one substance to sort of a beloved daily supplement in lieu of FDA and USDA regulation and guidelines. The industry has kind of begun to regulate itself. Have you noticed that?

Kristen Nichols (29:05): Absolutely. I'm so glad you asked this as a huge trend and a huge problem. The hemp and CBD producers really want some guidelines from the feds, so they can put a stamp on their labels and say, this really contains what it says it does, but that help is not coming anytime soon. So in the meantime you have a lot of different industry groups trying to band together and write regulations to assure customers because there's not really a lot of brands that have household name identity yet. To say, this is good stuff also, you'll have some big retailers like Sephora, the beauty, a retailer, setting their own standards to say, here's what we're going to carry. That's really unusual. You don't see so far as saying, here's what needs to be in a face powder or a mascara before it will cover it.

Kristen Nichols (30:03): So it really is a huge burden for the industry to come up with how to self regulate. You have lots of different rival groups from the herbal products, a world trying to establish themselves as the leader. But it's a huge problem for consumers. I'm sure you get asked all the time I do too. Oh, what's the, what's the good stuff. What's, what's crap CBD and what should I be taking? And the answer is, you know, you just gotta go with your gut. That's not a good place for consumers to be, or the industry to be.

Kannaboom (30:38): Right. And with 3,000 brands out there, some, a CEO told me, you have the day that that's how many CBD brands there are, you know, as we've already touched on like the vaping incident from a year ago, there could be dangerous stuff in there. Pesticides, mold residue. Is there any level of certification you can look for? Or do we just wait for these two for the dust to settle and for the government to come around and say, this is good. And this is not good.

Kristen Nichols (31:05): Again, you're going to have to, I think, look to an industry association you trust you mentioned, I think, U.S. Hemp Authority, that's an offshoot of the Hemp Roundtable. They do some organic associations. I would actually not wait for everyone's waiting for the FDA. I wouldn't, I wouldn't make that mistake. In the world of dietary supplements, like vitamin C and ginseng and fish oil it took the FDA — the stuff started popping up on the market, late sixties — took 30 years really to get anything happening at the FDA and this law that regulates dietary supplements and all kinds of people crap on it and say, it's total baloney. You have no way of knowing when you buy vitamin C at the store, whether there's any vitamin C in it. So I really do think it's buyer beware for a long time, and that's going to keep a lot of big players and big consumer package companies out. So good news if you are a small scrappy startup, but it's all on you to convince the consumer that your stuff is safe and going to help with what are other ailments they're taking it for.

Kannaboom (32:17): Right. There's Good Manufacturing Practices and a couple of other things that they should look for. But yeah, we might be waiting till 2050 and there still won't be consensus.

Kristen Nichols (32:28): Yeah. I'm curious, I hear a lot of people putting QR codes on their labels, so you can see kind of some testing results and where it came from. And I always thought who really does that? You know, but they say people really do. So I think you're going to see a lot more QR codes and a lot of efforts to try to persuade people, knowing this is going to take a long time. Please know, my stuff is good.

Kannaboom (32:50): Right? I mean the average consumer is not a chemist and a Certificate of Analysis is a good faith show, but do you really know what you're looking for? And do you have time again, I tell people not to buy it at a gas station, but do you have time to look at the QR code? If you're online, you should be able to access that. And that would be a help. So it's buyer beware as these industry groups sort of come to the fore. Maybe we'll see one emerge as the de facto standard. I do send people to the U.S. Hemp Authority because in my research, they seem to at least have a set of standards that they do have Good Manufacturing Practices and other seed-to-shelf sort of processes and procedures that they're pushing. So for me, that's the best standard I could find.

Kristen Nichols (33:39): Yeah. I think you're probably dead on.

Kannaboom (33:42): So Kristen, I know you have deadlines, so I don't want to keep you too long. Is there anything we haven't covered that we should?

Kristen Nichols (33:48): Oh, I think it's just such an exciting time. I'm glad that we touched on the election. It's an exciting time to watch where things are, how cannabis plays in the larger political conversation or countries. And of course the pandemic is affecting cannabis. Like it is everybody else. I am so curious to see in the coming weeks and months how the pandemic affects, not just farmers, but affects consumers. Of course, one big question that we don't have an answer to. And we're going to find out how important hemp, marijuana, and CBD all these extracts, where they fall in the consumer pocketbook. Do they consider them truly essential like food and medicine? Or is it a nice add on that? We know when times are tough, you cut like going to the movies we're trying. So we're every day looking at analogies, is it going to be like liquor? For example, alcohol tends to do better in downturns, but not true depressions, we know. Do people start home growing cannabis in the backyard because it's too expensive and everybody, nobody has a job or do people spend, you know, money on CBD because it treats a disease before they even pay rent and buy groceries? That's a huge question for the industry. Everyone wants to know. No one does know. So we're again, we're just gonna be watching where this market shakes out. I'm really curious what you think in terms of where you think a CBD ends up falling in terms of how important folks, how spending, I guess, changes when times get tough. What do you think?

Kannaboom (35:29): Well, I think it is very interesting to watch the data on that and to see, you know, it was interesting that what is considered cannabis was considered essential and dispensaries stayed open, but, you know, as the science advances and we learn about new cannabinoids and I use CBD and cannabis to help with insomnia, it helps me sleep better. Some people it's inflammation, others. Does it help with PTSD? Yes, I think it does. Could there be a preventative aspect with Alzheimer's, you know, there's a lot of unanswered questions that the science has to catch up with and then there's marketing. And as a marketer, I understand that you have to present it to markets in ways that they understand and people kind of digest that and decide for themselves. So yeah, it is an interesting space. And as it unfolds, we can expect prices to come down. I think consumers welcomed that and a lot happening on the business side that will depend on the, on the regulatory environment. So it's an interesting place to be for sure right now, for sure. I love what you guys are doing online, the way you're covering these markets and your title is editor, but I think I see your byline sometimes too, right?

Kristen Nichols (36:37): Yeah. We are a small staff. I used to only write and now I usually edit, but I still write sometimes. So we, we all kind of do everything here.

Kannaboom (36:48): Well, in the skillset of a journalist these days is also to run Zoom meetings and all that too. I like that you guys make the information available to your audience by video. Are you guys doing a podcast yet?

Kristen Nichols (37:01): We have a marijuana side podcast. We're kind of still trying to figure out where that sits in the hemp space. You know a lot of folks, farmers are an interesting crowd. They don't consume media the way someone who works in an office does. So we're truly trying to figure out how to hit again, these entrepreneurs we want to hit, you know, are they listening to podcasts? Are they, how are they on their tractors, on their phones? Yeah. A bunch of them are, but how to, how to hit everybody is kind of where words we're still kind of exploring. So I really appreciate your feedback on what you think you're the media market is headed.

Kannaboom (37:45): That's a good question. I mean, I think, you know, if you want to be the Wall Street Journal of hemp, that's wide open and you guys are doing it. You're, you're out there, I look on Twitter and I see you guys you're on LinkedIn. I don't know how many farmers are actually on LinkedIn. And I do know some farmers and they're busy right now. They're out there doing it. So what is the best way? I think you have to try all those channels. And I think you guys are just that snippet of video I saw with Hunter Land this morning where you're talking about isolates and versus full spectrum and broad spectrum, okay. That's just a little chunk of content that is very accessible and thought-provoking and engaging. That's what, what you have to be doing. And I think you guys are, are doing that in a good way. Well, thanks so much. Where should we look for you online?

Kristen Nichols (38:30): Okay. We're all one word, hempindustrydaily.com, like I said we're on LinkedIn and we've got a discussion board where if you are on LinkedIn and you want to talk about what's going on with hemp, we want to discuss. We're there, we're on Twitter as everybody is. We have an Instagram. I see a lot more farmers on Instagram than I used to. It's really super cool. They call it land porn. Everyone is stepping inside right now and likes to look at, you know, the pretty plants and the wide open spaces that farmers enjoy every day.

Kannaboom (39:01): Pictures of vegetables. Those are awesome. So we'll look for you on LinkedIn

Kristen Nichols (39:07): And, and, and all the social channels, the HempIndustryDaily or you could find us through MJBizDaily kind of links. They also will link to a lot of our stuff. If you follow them.

Kannaboom (39:18): We will be following along, Kristen Nichols. Thanks so much for sharing your time with our audience and letting them know what you guys are up to.

Kristen Nichols (39:24): Thanks so much for having me.

Kannaboom (39:26): You've been listening to the Kannaboom podcast with host Tom Stacey. If you like the show and want to know more, please check us out at Kannaboom with a k dot com and please leave us a review at Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. See you next week.