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Tariffs Don’t Touch Vermont CBD Retail, And Here’s Why

Photo by Alexandre Godreau on UnSplash
Evan Johnson
Evan Johnson 10 Oct 2019

A trade war with China has politicians and economic forecasters wringing their hands, but in the Green Mountain State, the additional tariffs on imported goods haven’t touched hemp and CBD – at least not yet.

Over the past year, the world’s two largest economies have imposed harsh sanctions on billions of dollars worth of the others’ goods. President Donald Trump has accused China of violating US trademark and intellectual property laws, while China insists the United States is trying to slow its expansion in Asia. These disagreements culminate in additional taxes – called tariffs – on many of the goods China and the US import from each other.

China grows enough hemp to satisfy its own domestic needs, so there’s minimal export of hemp to China.

So far, the US has imposed more than $360 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods and China retaliated with tariffs on US goods totaling more than $110 billion.

It’s a disagreement that has touched every type of product from DVD players to meat to musical instruments to crude oil, but hemp industry experts have said these tariffs haven’t had that much effect on the growing hemp industry in the United States. Brian Sheng, general partner at The Arcview Group in San Francisco explained to Hemp Industry Daily: “While hempseeds and true hemp products (hemp biomass) are on the list of products affected by the tariff, neither account for a significant amount,” he said.

In 2017, China sent about $3.3 million worth of hemp to the United States, according to Hemp Industry Daily’s 2018 Hemp and CBD Fact Book, placing China a distant second behind Canada, which exported $58 million in hemp into the US that year. However, China grows enough hemp to satisfy its own domestic needs, so there’s minimal export of hemp to China.

“I have a couple things that are from California, but everything else is made in New England.”

Here in Vermont, the tariffs haven’t affected hemp and CBD retailers for another reason: they sell hemp and CBD products that are grown and produced right here in the state, not China, and therefore won’t see a boost in prices. In Brattleboro, Scott Sparks, owner of Vermont Hempicurean, says the only items from China he sells in his Flat Street store are the batteries that would go into a vape pen.  “Other than that, Chinese tariffs don’t affect me at all,” he said.

Further north at the Clover Gift Shop in the village of Woodstock, the store’s apothecary sells a range of CBD products. “I have a couple things that are from California, but everything else is made in New England,” says Patricia Eames, the store’s owner.

The store is a larger general gift shop and sells everything from Christmas ornaments to blankets. As these imported items receive taxes, Eames says her suppliers are shifting where they source their goods. Several years ago, when the cost of cotton rose, so did the price of blankets. She says as long as CBD products are made locally, she’ll continue to sell them, and the prices will remain stable. “I wouldn’t sell something from anywhere else,” she said.

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