You can’t really talk about entrepreneurship in 2018 without mentioning CBD products. CBD, or Cannabidiol, is a part of the cannabis plant that lacks the “high” effect that the THC part of the plant is known for, but is still used to treat ailments ranging from anxiety to multiple sclerosis.
On pace to be a $2.1 billion industry by 2020, the CBD train is steadily making its way to Charleston.
Charleston entrepreneur Liam Becker of Apis Mercantile, a Colorado-based honey company founded this year, has partnered with a couple of local businesses to bring CBD honey sticks to the area.
Bert’s on Folly Beach and Persimmon Cafe downtown both currently carry the honey sticks. Becker worked closely with Persimmon Cafe owner Robert Cassi during his years at College of Charleston, and was actually one of the first employees Cassi hired when opening the cafe in the College Laundry on Calhoun Street.
“Around the time that I started working at Persimmon, I was introduced to beekeeping through a roommate and learned a lot about the benefits of honey,” says Becker. He was then introduced to the benefits of CBD through friends and began researching the licensing and permitting required.
“It only seemed natural to combine the honey and CBD, and our products have been really well received,” says Becker, noting the support he has received from Cassi as an important factor in his CBD ventures. “Rob has definitely been a mentor to me along my entrepreneurial journey and very supportive of my company.”
Becker says that Persimmon Cafe and Bert’s, as the first companies in the Charleston area carrying Apis Mercantile products, will “test the waters” with the CBD honey sticks. In addition to the sticks, Apis Mercantile also sells 6 and 12 oz. jars of honey in flavors like orange blossom, raspberry, and wildflower as well as organic CBD tea in peppermint, turmeric and ginger, and matcha.
Because CBD contains none of the active psychotropic properties of THC products, the manufacturing and sale of it in South Carolina (a state where marijuana is still very much illegal) functions just like any other food product.
“Our company manufactures in Colorado and is licensed through an industrial hemp food program,” says Becker. “Just like any other food manufacturer, we work closely with various county and state departments to produce our product.”
As far as a market in Charleston goes, Becker is confident that CBD has a home in the Holy City.
“There is actually a CBD event being held on James Island this month and quite a few CBD vendors at the Folly Farmers Market. CBD is definitely becoming more of a mainstream product. Last month, actually, the FDA approved the first ever medication that contains CBD as an ingredient.”
There must be something about funky Folly — this past November, we wrote about another local CBD company, Canna Bonez also started by Folly residents. Founders Matt Mummert and Stacey Detlor cater to the four-legged crowd, selling CBD oil, CBD-infused dog treats, and CBD dog balm to owners of anxious or arthritic pets.
As a human, the honey sticks are only one way to ingest CBD, but Becker noted that they’re a good option for someone who is “on the go” or needs a quick burst of energy.
“A lot of runners will take them or people that just want a little boost during the day,” he says. “I use our jarred honey in my coffee every morning and I eat the sticks when I get out of the water from surfing.”
Going forward, Becker envisions the community embracing this special honey. “We’re hoping that our products allow for the introduction of CBD into an individual’s daily routine,” he says. “Right now, we just manufacture honey but we hope to eventually offer a robust line of CBD topical products as well. It is a really exciting industry to be a part of, and we are having a great time interacting with customers and CBD advocates all over the country. We’re really excited for the future of our hive.”