Joe: On this episode of the "CBD University Podcast," we welcome Shannon Shuman, the vice president of Hemp Industry Daily to discuss an upcoming virtual conference series, taking a deep dive into the hemp and CBD industries. Possible talk about the latest in the industry trends. He is watching how our global health pandemic has affected the industry. And as hard as 2020 has been to predict, what lies ahead? This is the "CBD University Podcast" and it starts right now.

I'm Joe Agostinelli, host to the "CBD University Podcast." If you are a returning listener, thank you once again for tuning in, and if you are a new listener, we are glad you found us on your favorite podcast platform of choice. I invite you to subscribe to our podcast to receive notifications where new episodes are published each week. And it's great to be joined on this episode by Mr. Shannon Shuman. Shannon is the Vice President of Hemp Industry Daily. It's a daily news source for the hemp and CBD industry. I don't want to steal too much of his thunder, so I welcome him to the podcast. And I'll let you give a little more background on Hemp Industry Daily. Shannon, thanks for joining me.

Shannon: Absolutely, Joe. Thanks for being here. It's a real pleasure. I have to admit I'm a relatively newbie to the industry, although it feels like after six months, you know, it's like seven years. So especially with the way the economy's been, but really excited for what we have ahead of us. Hemp Industry Daily is a division of Marijuana Business Daily. When hemp became legalized back in 2018, the folks at Marijuana Business Daily decided that the hemp industry would need a dedicated resource for B2B industry news, information, analysis, anything to help the industry move forward.

So they started with a couple of reporters and, you know, we've grown that to a couple more so we're covering the industry globally and have a number of channels including the website and newsletters, special reports, webinars and trade events.

Joe: And we'll mention it again at the end of this show, but do stay on top of all the latest news from Hemp Industry Daily. You can visit their website at www.hempindustrydaily.com. And Shannon just mentioned, you can also subscribe to their daily newsletter and get alerted. There's a webinar coming up and something else that is coming up at the end of June, a virtual conference. And there's so many conferences that have been transitioned into virtual events during this health pandemic. Tell us about the Hemp Industry Daily Conference Direct that's taking place at the end of the month.

Shannon: Yeah, thanks for asking. We've always had the, I don't say always, for the last number of years, we've had the MJBizNEXT which is essentially served as a kind of a summer version of the conference. And then we've co-located Hemp Industry Daily Conference for the last few years. It was originally scheduled for New Orleans a week or two ago. Obviously we had to pivot because of COVID and it's forced us, in a good way, to innovate and introduce a virtual version of the event coming up still a kind of partnership with the two events, the MJBizNEXT and a Hemp Industry Daily conference, but there is a very separate hemp industry track and content path.

Joe: And how hard is it to take such a large industry event such as this and transform it into a virtual event?

Shannon: This all happened so fast. So I think part of the transitional challenges came from the speed in which we kind of imposed on ourselves to get this up and running, but we've got such a high reputation with our events, particularly with MJBizCon, the largest cannabis conference in the world. People have really high expectations for the experience there. So we have to take great care in making sure that we could meet those high expectations.

So we evaluated a lot of different virtual event platforms. We ultimately chose the one that was, you know, the most robust in terms of its features and its ability to connect people and provide exhibitors and sponsors and attendees all with as close as we could to the value of a live event.

And some of the big issues, again, this is just I think more of a byproduct of the speed in which we shifted, trying to understand a new technology. We haven't used virtual events in the past but having that opportunity to dive in, see what it can do, and then train the industry. Not a lot of industry members, particularly exhibitors and sponsors and attendees even, you don't know what to expect at a virtual event. And we've got as part marketing, making sure that we get the industry to kind of see the value of participating no matter what your discipline is. And for us, it's executing, making sure that it's flawless and that it reflects the high brand expectations that we've developed over the years.

Joe: And there's always so much to talk to you about emerging trends and industry news topics we often cover here on our podcasts, but it would be interesting to hear from the journalistic side of the industry, what are some of the biggest trends you are hearing and seeing in the industry?

Shannon: Yeah. Well, this year it's been a huge year of tempered expectations and I think that was pre-COVID. So, you know, I think, you know, throw COVID in and you change the economic landscape as well. But last year was a, call it an exploratory year for a lot of people. A lot of people saw tremendous opportunity, which still exists but either were not prepared or didn't have the right seed or genetics or supply chain support or contract at the end of the growing period.

Either way, there was a lot of failed crop last year. And I think, you know, that combined with there are still some bad actors in the industry trying to make a quick buck and along the way, you know, that in itself is undermining the market's trust in the supply chain. So there's still a high per acre potential despite the risks, particularly compared to traditional commodity crops. So I think a lot of people still are optimistic. Most people are still optimistic, just a bit tempered in how quickly they're willing to throw their entire savings into it.

Joe: Yeah. Something, and you mentioned it in an answer, you know, we always pride ourselves on the quality and compliance of our products. And we have certainly seen a number of companies try and enter the space and have just as quick of an exit as they did have an entrance. And what have you seen in the terms of consolidation of smaller companies by larger ones and those, you know, "Fly by Night," companies, folding up shop due to compliance issues?

Shannon: Yeah, we are seeing a lot of that. And in fact, it's not relegated to the small shops either. We're seeing some big organizations fall under some real financial distress. And, you know, I think people placed the large bet on this industry and not to say that it wasn't wise at the time but the market still needs some infrastructure development, some supply chain support, certainly the regulatory issues are not helping.

And, you know, the kind of patchwork state by state regulations doesn't always lead to a clear path to the market either. So yeah, I think there are a number of challenges.

One of the other, not to go back to the show, but I think it's a good example. We were forced to innovate through COVID. We weren't going to have a virtual event. It wasn't in our radar. COVID forced us to innovate. And I think in a larger way, whether it's the market conditions or the hopefully temporary impact a COVID, it's forcing a lot of the industry to kind of reevaluate their position, their priorities and innovate themselves. So I'm optimistic that, you know, despite the challenges, this being a bit of a kind of a corrective year will lead to a more prosperous 2021.

Joe: And you mentioned obviously with the pandemic having a detrimental effect on our country, what are some of the effects you've seen in covering the industry over the last few months?

Shannon: Sure. Well, at retail, you know, I think you've got the combination of retail shutting down because they have to. Communities and markets closing for public health sake. And then high levels of unemployment, you know, leading to less disposable income and those two big things are having some critical impact on the market.

That being said, you know, by everything that I'm reading and seeing, CBD is still doing quite well. And it's interesting because I think, you know, despite brick and mortar closing down for a while, and in some cases permanently, e-commerce has often been kind of the safe place for CBD sales. And you've seen a lot of CBD retail kind of retreat back into e-commerce. So a number of company that maybe started in e-commerce and then expanded their distribution through brick and mortar, have had a little bit more comfort with this because they could kind of retreat into something that they've known.

So I've seen that. That's been an interesting impact of COVID and I wonder how long it will stick around as long as COVID is a thing. I do believe at the end of the day, however, that major retail, those big brick and mortar brands, that's when the market dynamics significantly change when Walmart and Target and Costco, you know, go all in on CBD infused products regardless of what segment of grocery you're talking about.

Joe: Yeah. Let's talk changing state regulations and the evolving federal regulations as we continue to wait from the FDA. And offer more information on the state, by state regulations, we invite our listeners to tune back in just to a couple of past podcast episodes ago, our chief compliance officer, and we talked about why the regulations may vary from one state to another and some of the unique ones that do stand out across the country.

And speaking of education like that, how is the education of CBD products, especially as they become more and more available and familiar to retail spots as you just mentioned? How does that education of products through such outlets as our podcast and not making false claims about products, which we saw so much about and so much coverage about, especially during this pandemic, how is it all important for retailers and consumers?

Shannon: Yeah, I mean, that statement in itself kind of nailed it on the head. When you're talking about a Walmart, while they're one of the, if not, the largest brick and mortar retailer, they're not going to jump in with both feet if there's a lot of question with the product. And if they can't find a reliable source that is not only able to serve the demand, but also provides ample amount of safety and meets labeling regulations and Walmart can confidently sell it to their customer without fearing some kind of recourse.

Until we get to that point, they're gonna sit on the sidelines and all of the, as I mentioned, some of the bad actors and you alluded to it as well, you know, all of those little things that kind of undermine the market right now with labeling that isn't accurate or intentionally making health claims that may or may not be proven. That's all, it's just creating a delay for this industry to kind of reach its full potential.

It's also interesting, you know, when you look at consumers today, you know, this whole COVID impact on the consumer mind where we're still trying to figure out on the CBD side if CBD is going to be an essential product. Where it's essential to someone's health and wellness to get through whether it's a stress or anxiety or whatever or is it going to be a product that can be essentially eliminated from the budget if you're no longer employed? Is it the Starbucks latte that can just be cut out? It'll be interesting to see how the consumer positioned CBD or embraces CBD as we go further into this kind of the economic challenges that we're in.

Joe: You may have alluded to this a little bit on the introduction, but earlier this year, maybe towards even the end of last year, I think it was industry advocate and attorney Rod Kite who's a frequent guest on the "CBD University Podcast" offered his 2020 predictions.

Now, I think any prediction that was made at the beginning of the year, you know, we can certainly take with a grain of salt right now with everything that's gone on and continues to go on across the country. As hard as 2020 has been to predict, what do you think will be seen as we continue in the second half of the year and into 2021?

Shannon: Yeah, great question. All eyes right now are on the FDA and the white house. It's been widely reported that the FDA has turned over some CBD standards to the white house. The big question for the second half of the year is will anyone do anything about it in an election year? If you made me put my money on it, I would say probably not but it is encouraging that the FDA is taking the steps to kind of open up this market a bit more.

On the state level, however, I think States are showing more interest in getting this going. Not only is it a job creator and provides an agricultural path for some commodity growers who are not financially solvent, it's also a opportunity for tax revenue for the States. And when you look at the market and right now as I mentioned, a lot of it is kind of retreating back into that eCommerce space where oftentimes there are no taxes. So it behooves the States to create opportunities for, you know, brick and mortar stores and have those sales get attributed to that state and start earning some potential tax revenue on that.

So I see kind of a mixed bag this year, but ultimately trying to get through some of the market confusion and insecurity combined with the current economic landscape, I just see this as a bit more of a corrective year, like I mentioned earlier. And hopefully, a year where a lot of, whether they are growers or part of the supply chain, everyone's looking at ways to innovate and drive down the cost of production and transportation and packaging and so on and go into market.

So again, optimistic that that's going to be the end result of 2021 or excuse me, 2020 is that we're in a much better place to have a robust amount of growth in 2021.

Joe: And speaking of some of those, we recently introduced our more is better campaign. More value with our new line of CBD oils and more new products coming very soon. In the next few episodes, our listeners will learn more about all of that increased milligrams of CBD and other products. Do you see that as a continuing trend by other companies too?

Shannon: Yeah. You're asking about increasing the...

Joe: Increasing the amount of milligrams, yeah.

Shannon: Yeah. Until there's real, I don't want to say real science. I understand that there is real science out there, but until there's like definitive answers on how a certain level of CBD impacts whatever the ailment is. I think the natural consumer mind is the more CBD that's in it, the better, you know, as long as it doesn't hurt me. And there's never been to my knowledge, any significant reports of high levels of CBD being particularly dangerous. So I see more, it's kind of like going, you know, our phone company is going from 4G to 5G to 6G it's just going to keep going whether we need it or not.

Joe: Well, and a real quick, again, the conference that folks can sign up for. And then I will also remind our listeners that as a reward for listening to this podcast for tuning in or visiting our website also be in the description of the podcast episode, we also have a special discount code that we'll be offering our listeners. You can save $25 off the registration fee and you can find the link as I said, on the website for our podcast episode which has our full transcript along with the descriptions and again, the dates and name of the conference.

Shannon: It's the Hemp Industry Daily Conference Direct and it is Monday, June 29th through Wednesday, July 1st. And it's a full three days of exceptional content. We've got a really interesting networking platform as well. That's one of the reasons why most people go to trade shows. It's the top three reasons are networking, networking, and networking. So we've tried to replicate that because people want to go to events and find business partners, sell products and we've made a concerted effort to build in a platform for that event matchmaking and networking so you can meet people just like you would on the show floor.

Joe: Once again, I want to thank my guest Shannon Schuman and again you ou can register for that conference by visiting www.hempindustrydaily.com to register. Shannon, thanks again for taking the time to join me on this episode of the "CBD University Podcast." We'll have to do it again sometime soon.

Shannon: It's been my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Joe: Once again, the Vice President of Hemp Industry Daily, my guest on this episode of our podcast. And I thank you for tuning into this episode of the "CBD University Podcast." You can catch new episodes every week on your favorite podcast platform of choice. Don't forget to hit that subscribe button on your favorite app, and you'll receive notifications when new episodes are published.

For more information on the "CBD University Podcast," visit www.globalwidget.com and click on podcast to see and hear all our past episodes as we approach 15,000 downloads since our launch in November. I am Joe Agostinelli, the host of the "CBD University Podcast." Thanks for tuning in.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. CBD products are unintended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. Always consult your personal physician about CBD and using CBD products. CBD should never be used by anyone under the age of 18. This podcast is not intended to provide legal advice regarding the legal status of CBD and CBD products.