It was fitting that I met with Chris Boucher, hemp industry pioneer, at Natural Products Expo East. The event was packed with vendors from all over the world looking to find retailers for natural and organic products from every category imaginable. Hemp products were well-represented throughout the expo, but as Chris and I made our way through the thousands of attendees and natural and organic company representatives, we made sure to stop at the HempMedsPX booth first.
As Chris and I spoke, numerous attendees approached him to ask questions about hemp and hemp-based cannabidiol (CBD). From what I gathered, some had heard about CBD for the first time thanks to Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s CNN documentary, WEED. Others were big supporters of hemp products in general. All wanted to know more about what HempMedsPX had to offer and why they are different. The line of people asking questions got so long that Chris suggested we retreat to a nearby restaurant to conduct our interview.
Chris is the “real deal” as far as health and wellness aficionados go. It was clear right away that he was not just another marketing or sales guy. A staunch vegetarian and holistic health advocate, Boucher is the epitome of the new “conscious capitalism” businessman.
Chris’ journey to become one of the foremost authorities on the cultivation of hemp is a fascinating story. He was responsible for the first and only USDA-grown hemp crop in the United States, and has led the charge towards total legalization of industrial hemp for over twenty-five years.
But that’s not at all where he started. Chris explained that as a young man he had an interest in aviation and had joined the Air Force. After completing his stint in the service, he had no idea that his future career—and most of his adult life—would be focused on hemp.
Our conversation continues below:
Perry Coleman (PC): What’s your official title at US Hemp Oil and how long have you been with the company?
Chris Boucher (CB): I’ve been with the company about two years as VP of Product Development and Imports. Our import operations are still somewhat proprietary, but I can tell you that our products are imported from Europe and processed in San Diego.
PC: What type of responses are you receiving at the Expo?
CB: Phenomenal. It’s about natural products. People want a lot more information on hemp and hemp-based CBD and their benefits.
PC: Since Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s documentary (WEED) aired on CNN recently, have you been approached by those with medical needs they want to address with CBD—especially people with epilepsy?
CB: Yeah, many people want to know more about the health benefits of CBD. We don’t make any medical claims about our products, but we understand that there are many people who want to use our products to see if they will help various ailments. We do have a compassionate donation program that is focused on charitable outreach, which includes people who suffer with epilepsy.
PC: What new products do you have in the pipeline?
CB: Our newest product line is Cibaderm™, which is a skin and hair care line. We’re doing our first rollout of hand lotions, salves and shampoos. These products are different than our nutritional supplements in that they have broad appeal. They are the first consumer body care products that have hemp-based CBD in them.
PC: What product do you think will be your biggest seller?
CB: While we certainly believe our Cibdex™ hemp CBD drops will be highly successful, the Cibaderm™ products will have a massive market. Our products are on the higher end of the quality spectrum. We’ve removed the parabens, sulfates and phylates and use steam-distilled essential oils. They are amazing products.
PC: Tell me about your history in the hemp industry.
CB: I wrote the first legislation for industrial hemp in California and Colorado, and I opened one of the first hemp companies in the US in the 1990s. I was also one of the first to grow industrial hemp at a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) research center in 1994.
Now it’s twenty years later and there is a bill on [California] Governor [Jerry] Brown’s desk to legalize hemp cultivation in California. Governor Brown is expected to sign the bill which would give us permission to grow hemp in California’s Imperial Valley.
Note: Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 566 legalizing hemp cultivation at the state level on 27 September, 2013.
PC: How is your hemp-based CBD different from the high CBD cannabis plants that some are already growing in the US?
CB: The current growers have greenhouses and are more akin to hobbyists. Their plants are derived from clones and cloning is not agricultural production. They have to put each cloned plant in the ground. Unfortunately, what current US-based cannabis growers are doing now is just not scalable, and it’s illegal at the federal level.
We have high CBD hemp cultivars and could, when federal law allows, import these seeds from our overseas seed banks. US Hemp Oil uses seeders that can sow a thousand seeds in twenty minutes—right now! This year we could plant 160 acres and possibly have a winter crop.
PC: That’s huge! As a publicly-traded company, what would you say to your shareholders about the advantages you have?
CB: Look at production, product and market penetration. We have a consistent supply chain and quantities of hemp available for full-scale commercial production. In fact, we’re increasing production and marketing which, of course, translates into sales and cash flow. We are past the research and development phase and are focused on merchandizing our products for a variety of industries. Just look at the natural supplements industry—it’s a 34.5 billion-dollar industry alone with the overall natural products industry at 65 billion. That’s “billion” with a “b” and the natural supplements is only one market in which we already have our hemp CBD products.
With that, it was time to get back to the convention center. I got to take in more of the amazing Expo before saying goodbye to the HempMedsPX crew.
My biggest takeaways for consumers and investors alike was that a significant new product line is being rolled out, and that growing hemp in the US would significantly reduce production costs.
HempMedsPX, a Medical Marijuana, Inc (MJNA) portfolio company and contracted marketing company for MJNA and CannaVest Corp (CANV), represented both MJNA and US Hemp Oil as Gold Sponsor of Natural Products Expo East. This is just one of many trade shows on an extensive schedule this autumn, placing them in numerous venues across the US to showcase their hemp-based CBD products.