*Editors Note: The title of this piece has been updated to clarify that this cart is not part of the official Church Street Marketplace and is instead governed by the Burlington City Council as part of the Central Peddler’s District. Our thanks to the Church Street Marketplace for the clarification and apologies to our readers for any confusion.
BURLINGTON, Vt.- Recently Vermont made national news in the cannabis community with the publication of a story by Ganjapreneur, written by T.J. Branfelt titled, “Vermont’s Lax Industrial Hemp Laws Driving Cottage Industry”. The story highlighted the relatively inexpensive cost of obtaining a hemp permit from the state ($25 annually through the Department of Agriculture) and featured quotes from the Vermont Hemp Company, the University of Vermont Agricultural Extension, and our own Heady Vermont publisher Monica Donovan, who last year also grew an experimental CBD hemp crop in Vermont.
This week, the story of Vermont’s blossoming hemp industry takes another major step with the emergence of The Ganja Guides, and it’s founder, Jeremy Skillings.
That’s because this week Skillings plans to open the state’s first hemp extract vending cart on Cherry Street across from Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop in the state’s busiest downtown district.
As Skillings, a native of Amherst, Massachusetts told Heady Vermont in an exclusive interview, he’s had nearly a decade of professional cannabis experience — most recently as an employee of the Champlain Valley Dispensary in Burlington — but has diverse interests and experiences with additional professional background as a videographer, photographer, graphic designer, and visual artist (he’s previously appeared on this site as the subject of a Heady Culture artist profile for his company, POTography).
At The Ganja Guides cart, he’ll sell hemp extract products from national supplier, Charlotte’s Web, as well as merchandise, artwork, and schedule consultations where he’ll provide education about the potential therapeutic uses of the cannabis plant and it’s many cannabinoids, terpenes, and additional compounds. For the month of April at least, he plans to open the mobile cart on a weather-permitting basis (“on sunny days”, Skillings says with a smile in person) starting Monday, April 10 from 12pm-7pm. He says the hours are likely to change in May and for the summer, including being open during the popular Burlington Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings.
Skillings says he hopes that by the summertime (high tourism season), he’s dialed in the foot traffic patterns, timing, and daily process of packing, transporting, unpacking, and storing the cart and merchandise. He acknowledges the challenge ahead and the investment that he’s already made: he’ll sell a 30ml bottle, a two week supply, of the Charlotte’s Web hemp extract oil (traditional olive oil and mint chocolate coconut oil are the current options at The Ganja Guides cart) ranges in price from $40 to $99 depending on the strength.
Whatever the startup costs, there’s no questioning the current popularity of the active ingredient in the legal hemp products such as the Charlotte’s Web oil, Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD. The headline of a recent Forbes article penned by Deborah Borchardt is striking in terms of scale: “The Cannabis Market That Could Grow 700% by 2020”.
In the Forbes article Borchardt reports that the current market leader for CBD sales, Medical Marijuana Inc., has seen sales grow from $3.4 million in 2013 to an expected $9 million in 2016 and presently reporting $800,000 in monthly retail sales.
The Ganja Guides isn’t the first or only location in Vermont’s largest city of Burlington to feature hemp and CBD products. Ceres Natural Remedies (formerly, the CVD Shop), located on the Burlington bike path sells a variety of hemp extract and CBD products, ranging from transdermal patches from national retailer Mary’s Nutritionals to the Vermont-based Reilly Hemp Vet canine CBD products.
Green State Gardener, a DIY and gardening supply company also based in Burlington, sells a variety of CBD products from their Pine Street location and are currently working to produce their own Vermont-grown hemp harvest in 2017. Last year, the largest producers of Vermont-grown CBD were Green Mountain CBD in Hardwick, who last year told VPR they had harvested over 7,000 hemp plants on five acres and produced over 300,000 capsules of CBD oil.
The area around the Church Street Marketplace, a pedestrian outdoor mall in the state’s largest city (which shares the same designer and layout with Boulder, Colorado’s Pearl Street) is not necessarily new to cannabis or smoking culture and already features multiple head shops on Church Street itself, and in surrounding blocks, more head shops, two recently-opened vape lounges, and the Bern Gallery, one of the country’s most respected glass-blowing studios and artist collectives.
The creators and founders of the Charlotte’s Web hemp extract oil (and subsequent business), the Stanley Brothers, first rose to national attention when they pioneered and developed specific strains of hemp extract oil high in cannabidiol (CBD) that had miraculous efficacy in treating children with various neurological disorders, including seizure and epilepsy-related diseases. The oil known as Charlotte’s Web was named after Charlotte Figi, a Colorado girl who today is nine years old and has helped spark a national network of parents who have played a major part in allowing for legal hemp extract products (below .3% THC) to be shipped nationally.
Today, Charlotte’s Web has expanded their business rapidly as a market and industry leader in the national hemp scene. They still continue to serve adolescent and youth patients with their patented CW oil, their research–and that of many others–has opened the door for more mainstream applications of hemp extract oil. The company’s website offers a wide variety of products that can be shipped across state lines, including oil extracts for daily use, vape pens, capsules, infused coffee, and even recently launched a pet product line, CW Paws.
As Skillings told Heady Vermont in an exclusive interview, the national prominence and trust in Charlotte’s Web was a crucial and major factor in his development of The Ganja Guides business plan and his faith in the value of providing the products via a mobile vending cart in Vermont’s most heavily-trafficked downtown area.
In an exclusive interview with Heady Vermont, Skillings explains more about what differentiates his business from the competition (besides being on wheels), the difference between CBD-only products and whole hemp-plant extract products such as Charlotte’s Web, and the process of getting approved by both Charlotte’s Web and the Burlington City Council.
HV: What kind of products will The Ganja Guides offer?