CBD and Me…What I Learned Entering the World of Cannabis

There is nothing easy about being an entrepreneur. In the cannabis industry, it is even harder. While CBD (cannabidiol) is legal-ish in nearly all 50 states, it is still federally illegal. With it being illegal, there comes so much red tape that you may not find out about until you come across it.
Here’s my journey…
I have always had an interest in cannabis. I truly believe in natural, plant-based products, and if I can use those over pharmaceutical products, I surely will. When the 2018 Farm Bill passed, I realized it was now time to jump in the industry. I did my research on products, legality, the best platform to build my store, business structure, all of that. What I never came across was how difficult it was to actually sell CBD online. I listened to podcasts that specialized in the industry that could help me with my business, some even discussed the difficulty in marketing these products. I assumed it was because they were cannabis-only products because it was still federally illegal. I thought that CBD would be different because again, it was legal-ish. Wrong!
1) Marketing
I wanted to build my audience by purchasing online ads. That seemed to be the easiest method for my online brand. I have not purchased many online advertisements in the past, but the few I had purchased went through easily and automatically. The two (2) social media platforms I tried to run ads on denied every post that I wanted to boost or promote. I even removed the “CBD” language to make it easier to go through and I was still denied.  I did not let that discourage me. Instead, I tried to figure out other ways like posting my information in various groups over and over again. Ads would have been so much easier.
2) Payment
I was excited because momentum was finally growing for my brand and then I received an email from my payment processor, PayPal,  saying that they were “permanently restricting my account due to a breach in the user agreement.”
What does that even mean?
Immediately, I went scrolling through the User Agreement because, admittedly (don’t tell anyone), I didn’t read it. I did not see anywhere that stated “no cannabis companies” so I honestly did not know why it was restricted. I couldn’t call or email any one for more information so I was extra aggy. The day before I had actually set up another payment processor, Stripe, that was available on that website platform. Coincidentally,  someone had asked if I only took PayPal, and that day, I added the other processor.  When PayPal closed my account, I was able to move forward with no issues. Shoutout to Spirit. Two days later, Stripe said, “sorry, sis, you can’t sell these products here either, and here’s why…” and kicked me off. I do appreciate Stripe for actually detailing why I was kicked off of their platform. They even referred me to another company, which was e-checking. E-checking is a terrible option because people barely use tangible checks. They are less likely to purchase from you when they have to go find their starter checks for their routing and account numbers.
Now, both of the payment processors kicked me off of the website platform which meant I had to now find another website platform for my store.
Le sigh… Which also meant that I had to recreate my store on said platform. (*whispers* this is the 3rd re-creation) What a week! You’ve heard my story, here are my lessons.
  1. While CBD and other cannabinoids like CBN and CBG are legal on a state level, it is still illegal on a federal level.  It is still difficult to develop, market, and sustain your business in the traditional way. Be creative!
  2. Choose the right website platform. Squarespace is easy to create beautiful websites. However, the payment processors available are only PayPal and Stripe, both of which do not work with high-risk industries. Know upfront that those companies are great, but they do not work in these type of industries!
  3. Speaking of Payment Processors… Make sure your payment processor works with “high risk” industries. Research and call. Do not take the risk of using them and having them abruptly halt service because you have unknowingly violated your User Agreement. You know what, just read the User Agreement!
If you are considering starting a business in CBD, feel free to ask me a question. I will try to help the best way I can.

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