BURLINGTON, Vt. — With the benefits of cannabis-derived supplements slowly making their way into the mainstream health and wellness industry, Bill Reilly, founder of local Burlington company Reilly HempVet, saw a void that needed to be filled.
“It all comes down to wanting to make the supplements available to pets, as they should be,” Reilly said. “We had the sophistication and research to do that.”
With the help of an animal nutritionist and close consult with veterinarians, Reilly and his team have developed a line of organic soft chew products for dogs, rich in hemp phytocannabinoids and other natural elements like algae extracts, flower pollen extracts, and essential fatty acids.
The main therapeutic component of these supplements, however, is cannabidiol, derived from the cannabis plant. Most commonly referred to as CBD, it’s a known anti-inflammatory and immune system booster with other benefits. Reilly and his team have created ailment-specific supplements for pets that combine CBD and other plant-based components to help support pets in injury recovery, immune health, neurocognitive and joint functions.
“We guarantee that the pet will have a positive, therapeutic reaction,” Reilly said. “Everything we do is based on science. It’s health and wellness.”
The phytocannabinoids that account for much of the genetic makeup of the cannabis plant are THC and CBD. THC is the psychoactive agent in cannabis that gets humans high, and can be toxic for pets. Reilly’s HempVet products contain CBD derived from hemp, not marijuana, and contain no traces of THC.
“We had people coming up to us at trade shows with these positive, anecdotal results on the human level,” Reilly said. “And thanking us for putting this in the pet category.”
The products launched in March 2016, and have been flying off the digital shelves. Currently only available online directly through the company, Reilly projects the supplements will be distributed throughout pet and health food stores nationwide in coming months.
“We have the distribution capability through almost 4,000 stores, but we have to get the product into the pipeline,” he said.
Reilly’s HempVet soft chews are manufactured in Vermont, but because of the lack of availability to locally grown hemp, Reilly purchases the hemp from Europe. With product demand growing, and many of the lower potency supplements already sold out, he hopes to integrate local farming into the business model.
“The cannabis crop can be a game changer for farmers in Vermont. It’s such a versatile crop from cosmetics to food to therapy.”
“The cannabis crop can be a game changer for farmers in Vermont. It’s such a versatile crop from cosmetics to food to therapy,” Reilly said. “Through the success of our products we’ll be able to buy directly from Vermont farmers. Source locally, market nationally. That’s always been the goal.”
But with only 174 acres of hemp by 28 growers reported to the Vermont Agriculture Agency this year, and with the cultivation of the crop still illegal at the federal level, Vermont could be a long way away from being a major player in a long line of hemp products.
“Everyone recognizes what the challenges are, but also the possibilities,” Reilly said.
Reilly’s HempVet soft chews are formulated specifically for dogs, and come in two different potencies: One for everyday health and wellness, and a higher potency for working, recovering, or elderly dogs. The products use only organic hemp, and contain no common food allergens like gluten, corn, or soy. For more information visit www.reillyhempvet.dog.