*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.

The Ganja Guides’ License from the Burlington City Council

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.

Jeremy Skillings standing 50 feet away from his cart location, Spot #16, located on Cherry Street – Heady Vermont, 2017

 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.

Image of cannabis grown by Skillings and sold as a print by his POTography business.

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.

Heady Vermont (HV): Who are The Ganja Guides?
The Ganja Guides, are a resource for Vermont’s Cannabis Culture. We understand that cannabis can be confusing! If you are ready to embark on an adventure towards self-healing, we are here to stock your travel bag with knowledge and purpose. Cannabis as a medicine must be a personalized experience; we do not practice “cookie-cutter curing”. In order to truly heal one’s medical conditions, we have to consider their body and mind, in relation to their past experiences, present state, and future goals. The process takes diligence and intention; but we can certainly have some fun along the way! Please come visit us if you are seeking a healthier and more comfortable life. Our Vending Cart is located in Burlington, Vermont; at the intersection of Church x Cherry. Our website is www.TheGanjaGuides.com
 
HV: When and how did you get the idea to get into the CBD/Hemp industry?
Great question! I have been involved in the Medical Marijuana Industry for the previous four years. It was about a year ago that I had the idea to open up a Hemp Vending Cart within the Church Street Marketplace. It took me the last six months to plan and actualize that idea. I am so very grateful that it has worked out; that was never a given! 
 

The Ganja Guides logo courtesy of Jeremy Skillings

HV: What kind of products will The Ganja Guides offer?

The Ganja Guides strives to be an Information-First company. We will be scheduling Informational Consultations, where customers can meet with one of our Ganja Guides to learn about cannabis; either online, via telephone, or in person! Clients can learn about effective and proper use, making medibles, general Q&A, and we offer assistance registering for the Vermont Medical Marijuana Program. We have additional services for card-holders; including grow-room setup and marijuana cultivation. 
 
In terms of products, we are going to try to offer a bit of everything from the Legal Cannabis Market. At The Ganja Guides’ vending cart, we retail the dankest cannabis stickers, posters, jewelry, clothing and other unique merchandise in the state. We carry an expanding offering of aromatherapy products ranging from Cannabis-Derived Terpenes to Cannabis Candles. We also carry Hemp Supplements from Charlotte’s Web. These 100% legal herbal products are gluten-free, non-gmo, vegan and will NOT produce a high. They are delivered in edible Olive Oil or Coconut Oil, ingestible capsules, sleek vaporizer pens, and transdermal gel pens. Our range of hemp products will triple by the end of the summer and all of our supplements are Lab Tested for potency and contaminants. A Cannabis Cart, is a lovely place to be…
 
HV: How did the Charlotte’s Web (CW) connection come about and why did you decide to try and work with them specifically?
There are some great Whole Plant Hemp Extracts and CBD-Isolate options out there; and I’ve tried quite a few of them. However, I noticed that the Charlotte’s Web products simply worked better for me; so I decided to work with them. It wasn’t until CW they had accepted my business application that I learned that their product incorporates a Whole Plant Hemp Extract, as oppose to a simple CBD-Isolate. Let me tell you; when they said yes; I dropped everything I was doing and literally frolicked 50 meters down a hallway. 
 
HV: What is the difference between a Whole Plant Hemp Extract and extracts that only contain the CBD compound?
There’s a significant misunderstanding about this; so I’m happy to jump in. Simply put, a “Whole Plant” Hemp Extract contains ALL of the cannabinoids and compounds produced by the hemp plant (within the parameters of the extraction). On the other hand, a CBD-Isolate contains ONE singular cannabinoid called Cannabidiol, which has been separated from the original hemp or marijuana plant. While it is true that isolated CBD can have wonderful effects on its own; in most cases, it is beneficial to include the full spectrum of available cannabinoids and medicinal compounds to encourage the entourage effect (combined cannabinoids have more effect than the each compound on its own; i.e. 1+1 = 3). In fact, CBD works better if there is some level of THC present; they have a synergistic relationship.
 
Industrial CBD-Isolates are often made from low resin Hemp-Cannabis; which raises some concerns about large crop-sizes and increased uptake of soil-contaminants (bioaccumulation). CBD-isolates also have a more prominent effect on the rate at which your body metabolizes over 50% of common pharmaceuticals; which can be a benefit or a hazard depending on the pharmaceutical interaction. At The Ganja Guides, we believe that Knowledge Is Power; so come on down and we can discuss if a Hemp Extract or CBD-Isolate Supplement could bring your closer to your health goals.
 
HV: When you were going through the application process for the Marketplace, were you nervous that there might be pushback because of the subject or think your application got any extra scrutiny?
The Marketplace License Committee was extremely friendly, genuinely interested, and asked all the right questions. It was a very pleasant process. But, I was definitely nervous and excited. Most of my nervousness emerges from doing things that simply haven’t been done before. Expanding The Ganja Guides often feels like driving around in a flying car; you get weird looks while folks wrap their minds around your intentions. Keeping that in mind, I usually show up to meetings with a 17 page document I’ve prepared, which details The Ganja Guides’ business plans and the legality of hemp in Vermont. 
 
HV: How do you think your experience and/or business plan contributed to getting the agreements in place with both Charlotte’s Web and the Burlington City Council?
Having nine years of cannabis education/experience and crafting a solid business plan were certainly stepping stones toward this venture. Burning the midnight oil on a regular basis (pun intended) and venturing into business territories rarely seen, was another set of stepping stones. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that The Ganja Guides’ adventure is writing itself. I have been receiving messages for weeks just in anticipation of our opening day; it’s pretty awesome. The business is marching along to its own beat, and I’m happily following along with pure encouragement. Today my fantastic mother said, my business is starting to “smile back” at me. 
 
The Ganja Guides cart opens at 12:00pm on Monday, April 10 at the intersection of Church and Cherry Streets in Burlington, Vermont. More information about the business at http://www.theganjaguides.com
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