Two pieces of legislation that would highly regulate the hemp and CBD industry in Louisiana still await the governor’s approval, but Baton Rouge entrepreneurs in the fledgling industry are already feeling its shockwaves.
For Heather Carter, who co-owns Baton Rouge-based Mountain Pure CBD with her husband Chad, and friend Natalie Ourso, the bills are bittersweet. While happy they can continue operating their company, founded in 2017, they worry the legislation will hinder other small businesses from entering the market, expected by some to grow to $22 billion by 2022.
“It really should have opened the door for other small businesses to do what we do,” Carter says, “but instead I think it’s going to be really hard because there are so many regulations.”
The bill requires growers and manufacturers of CBD products to gain licensing, testing and specific labeling. The regulations also prohibit the sale of CBD for inhalation, such as vape juices, and beverages and food items with CBD, which Carter and her partners peg as a missed opportunity for Louisiana. For their own company, it means shelving their four vape juice flavors as well as plans to expand with CBD-infused gummies.
Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. recently estimated that sales of drinks infused with THC or CBD, forecast to make up 20% of the edibles market, will reach $600 million in sales in the U.S. by 2022. Coca-Cola, along with the makers of Guinness, Heineken and Corona, have all reportedly began considering investing in or producing CBD-laced beverages, although national beverage makers aren’t the only companies looking to enter into the CBD beverage sector.
In December, The Big Squeezy announced it was adding a new line of CBD- and hemp-infused cold-pressed juices to its menu, inspired by the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill by Congress. At the time, The Big Squeezy Owner Ash Shoukry told Daily Report he was expanding his California hemp production from 200 to 500 acres to meet the predicted high demand for the new product. Shoukry was unable to be reached before this morning’s deadline.