On March 8, 2021 I contributed to The Hemp Columns with the article below. Check them out at https://thehempcolumns.com/blog for great articles about the ups and downs of the hemp business and all things related.
The hemp industry is growing quickly. Along with this growth, there’s been a crazy amount of change. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized ‘industrial hemp’ federally, but each state has put in its laws and regulations. This makes any national (multi-state) entity scared of doing business across state lines. The horrible economic effects of this are most felt in the financial sector, especially when selling products online.
Selling widgets online is fairly easy. If you are new, the process usually goes like this: Register your business, get a bank account, set up a website with a shopping cart, then use the website’s built-in merchant processing and link it with your bank account.
Done. Simple. You can probably be up and running in a few days, max.
Selling CBD products is more complicated. Selling CBD means encountering roadblocks in otherwise calm, clear waters. There are thousands of stories of incredibly insane roadblocks, but I’ll stick to only sharing mine.
Here were some of my hurdles:
To no one’s surprise, I was unable to get a small business loan to support my aspiring industrial hemp farm, processing company and product line.
I was not able to find investors (but that might be equal parts the fault of the industry and my fault… I don’t have any idea how to do that).
I set up a checking account at a local credit union for my farm, but a year later it was closed because I was in a ‘marijuana-related industry’. It took 9 bank-less months to find a bank that is happy to work with us!
We paid lots of money for what others have for free: The hemp industry can be filled with jerks and liars, so all products need to be registered with the state (at ~$1000 per each and every product, that was hard to swallow).
We set up a website but realized quickly that the shopping carts don’t support CBD purchases. We switched website hosts. Similar issues arose, and we switched again.
Square is used by a large portion of CBD merchants, and I was thrilled to have a website, shopping cart, merchant, and bank all in line. I was happy.
Nope. Stop. Can’t be happy. A new roadblock.
Here’s what happened: Soon after opening the online shop I got an email from Square. They needed more information about my CBD business. I provided it. The next day I got the same email. I add more files, more info. On day 3, I receive the same email; they need MORE info. Wait, why? Did something not work? I want to email Square, but can’t because all the emails I've received are from 'no-reply'. I scour the Square websites looking for a phone number, but it says they are currently not accepting customer service calls. Instead, I go to a live-chat, but it’s automated too. The chat-machine asks what my problem is. I write a message and the ‘live-chat-that-is-not-live’ tells me that I will get an email in 2-3 business days with a response.
.... to keep us legally binding the rest of the article can be found here: