Hemp Affiliates: Must-Read Info
Get a clearer perspective on what's happening with the industry and how to become a successful hemp affiliate... while remaining socially and environmentally conscious.
"Didn’t you hear, you too can claw out of poverty or reach the big leagues selling ‘hemp CBD’ products in America! Yeah, soon it'll be in everything from hamburgers to pizza dough... a new amber-green rush set to absolutely crush annual recreational cannabis sales (we're talking into the tens of billions folks). And trust us, we got the BEST highest-quality hemp extract in the universe...why...you could reach Hempefeller-status, become a fabulously wealthy affiliate of ours today!"
We knew this kind of thing was coming as soon as talk of the hemp provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill began circulating - the MLM (multi-level pyramid selling) and affiliate marketing push.
Bottom Line = Most current affiliates I've come across so far in 2019 are a) highly un- or misinformed, b) unknowingly propagating CBD Disinformation, and c) representing low-quality products with questionable contents.
That being said, here's a wee-little...
At the end of the day MLM and affiliate/referral systems are helping a ton when it comes to increasing public awareness of hemp-cannabis-based Endocannabinoid System science and consumerism. So I’m not going to drop any names or speak negatively. This is more about helping to ensure current and potential hemp affiliates understand on-the-ground realities of 2019-2022.
Let’s start this conversation with a chart from the illustrious Hemp Industry Factbook outlining challenges American hemp farmers face. It's important you understand where we are and then we'll get into being a great affiliate.
The three of particular concern - this is rapidly evolving and its speed will only be slowed by mother nature or state laws over the next few years - are:
Finding Domestic Processors - Developing This Infrastructure
Domestic Harvesting Equipment - And This One Too...
Sourcing Domestic Seeds/Clones - Quickly Being Solved
In terms of banking services, new federal laws opened the doors to federally-funded institutions, but the system is barely up and running and we're almost into the 2019 growing season.
What does this tell us? It tells us first and foremost CURRENT prices of hemp-derived concentrates and CBD are a reflection of this unfolding situation - with still rather limited domestic supply and processing.
Dramatic Price Decrease Inc!
Within short order, that graph above will have changed and as the three core concerns are figured out, prices of hemp-CBD will go down, down, down. This is a good thing for consumers, but not so much for affiliates within the industry watching their margins get thinner and thinner.
Competition is going to be insane, with mega corporations already in the process of attempting to seize control of market share - thank goodness for the push-back from our farming, hempster, and cannabis communities!
Here’s another illuminating way of putting it, from an article published by Channel 13 News out of Eugene Oregon who interviewed a rep from Frontier Data entitled, “Hemp at Target and Walmart?”
"It's [the 2018 Farm Bill] a huge deal because it's a domino effect. Banks can get involved now and if banks get involved, then credit card processors get involved — and if that happens, then big box stores like Target and Walmart get into it," said Sean Murphy, a New Frontier data analyst who's tracked the industry since its infancy in 2015. "All these big players are going to come in."
Point Being: Domestic and corporate hemp-cannabis supply is likely to soon flood the market - this doesn’t count for international sources like Canada and throughout Europe who will undoubtedly weigh in. Processors are going to grow in number exponentially for a while, as will available harvesting equipment. It won’t occur overnight, but it'll happen as long as the end of hemp farming prohibition holds and not too many states adopt insane regulations.
Other Critical Points for 2019-2022
Hemp could end up becoming a rather profitable hedge in the ongoing ‘trade wars’ in the face of record-low commodity prices. The fact industrial hemp has federal backing provides more security for farmers concerned about federal subsidies, insurance, etc.
No one can anticipate the speed at which American hemp as a nation-wide market will grow.
It may takes months before there are real signs of movement as the situation is figured out between farmers, states, and the greater agricultural sector. Not to say making good money as an affiliate isn’t possible, but it’s still technically a gamble.
Along these lines, in a December 2018 interview with Hemp Industry Daily editor Kristen Nichols through Lancaster Farming she said…
“We don’t have a lot of certified seed, we don’t have a lot of agronomic data, we don’t have a lot of the basic research of, ‘How much does it cost to grow an acre of hemp”, or ‘How much water do I need?, or ‘What pesticides can I use?”
Do profits look like they’re going to be higher for farmers? Yes. But that’s before we have any real infrastructure or any REAL market data. Anyone considering getting into the hemp space right now as an affiliate or otherwise is likely to be in a hurry, but don’t be. The first year or two is going to be addressing basic fundamental farming, infrastructure, processing, manufacturing, distribution, etc.
Too many people can fall prey to nonsense right now: farmers, affiliates, entrepreneurs, and investors. Don’t get burned. Be strategic. Among others, Kristen Nichols advises people to consider waiting and seeing what happens with the USDA (and FDA) concerning hemp CBD before trying to pinpoint any solid market trends.
Here’s a perfect example of what’s likely to stall the hemp CBD movement in America on the state level. The State of New York recently made a move concerning hemp CBD in food or beverages.
According to a February 2019 development in NY state law:
“The new guidance bans the manufacture and sale of ready-to-eat food with CBD infusions or CBD extracts, such as CBD chocolate syrup, CBD soda and CBD-infused frosting-drizzled cookies. Rather, any CBD product intended for human consumption [not in pill or tincture form] must (1) be produced under accepted dietary-supplement standards and (2) be properly labeled and packaged for sale under FDA regulations for dietary supplements.”
Huh? But the FDA said...and this could change next year, perhaps it's changed already...that's the point. Consider the potential chaotic affairs for some moving forward.
Federal: Hemp CBD is legal, derived from a safe agricultural crop.
FDA: Hemp CBD products are excluded from the definition of dietary supplements. Could change at any time.
State: Hemp CBD-infused food & drink to be like FDA-approved dietary supplements. Or, it's completely legal. Maybe partially legal under certain circumstances. And so on.
A prudent move for those in the state would be…
“Industry members already processing and selling hemp-derived CBD products as well as those looking to enter the market should seek guidance on the quickly evolving regulatory environment.”
As someone thinking about being a hemp CBD affiliate, does this make it clearer how murky the waters still are and could be?
This goes for everyone, in nearly every state but a small few right now as we head into 2019-2022. How will each state rule on just this one aspect - CBD? Pertaining to hemp CBD, or any hemp plant/flower content in anything meant for human consumption, according to some lawyers interviewed by Forbes, most states still have bans on the books - like California, and now New York is trying to heavily-regulate hemp CBD, which will impact the regulations of all other hemp products consumed or used by humans (we won’t mention pets or livestock).
They also dropped this rather disheartening bit of insight,
“On the negative side, however, Congress gives other agencies - FDA, DEA, FTC, and TTB - the right to interpret hemp regulations to fit their agency’s situation.”
It’s likely the ‘hemp CBD’ industry could become at some point a splinter industry from the more generalized hemp industry. So, by the mid-2020s it might be a mandatory labeling requirement to show hemp food containing CBD (Oregon leads the way here). Who knows! Within a year or so we’ll see the impacts of the FDA’s decisions and the roles they play in building the initial framework for a regulated domestic hemp CBD industry.
The #1 Issue is Both Farmer & Public Education
To return to folks who currently are, or find themselves interested in becoming a hemp industry affiliate, you’ve got a lot riding on those shoulders. In my mind it’s going to be the referral networks as well as influencer and referral marketing systems who play a vital role in not only educating consumers...but farmers! According to insiders, that’s the big hurdle for hemp farmers right now - lack of knowledge.
What are they farming the plant for?
Where do they get certified seed?
What are they selling the plant for?
Who’s going to purchase their harvests?
Where’s federal help in these respects?
Where are the processors and equipment?
By all means get involved and educate consumers, but from the larger perspective affiliates looking to increase their revenue should also be involved on the farmer-side of things, looking for opportunities that support farmers.
Speaking of which...
3 Steps to Being a Successful Hemp CBD Affiliate
What follows is meant to be beginner-level information for those who want to represent the best of American hemp CBD rather than the often low-quality and dishonest elements. Make no mistake, a LOT of crummy and potentially harmful substances are being fraudulently sold to the public by hemp affiliates who simply don't know any better. Everything from hemp seed oil (no cannabinoids) or far lower amounts of important compounds listed on the product, to unknown synthetic inorganic mystery cannabinoids.
I'm just trying to help people avoid that.
Step 1: Build a Core Knowledge Base
It's about two topics of study, both of which are extremely dense - the cannabis plant and human endocannabinoid system. Be honest with yourself and decide early on how deep you're going to go. I've been moderately studying both for years and still feel like a complete amateur in the shadow of such a gigantic body of knowledge. The basics of both are relatively easy, but once you get past those your real competition falls off a cliff. Again, most of the hemp affiliate information I see barely gets the basics right.
Our Human ECS: Let me stress the fact this subject is insanely complex because the ECS interacts with and to a degree modulates nearly every other system in the body. We're talking the whole ball of yarn folks; from cellular to psychological. Since roughly the late 90s we've learned a lot, but most ECS science is nascent. Be honest. Be as factual as possible. Site your sources. Don't go throwing around unfounded marketing-driven 'medical' information because that only hurts the genuine grassroots market. Be professional!
The Cannabis Plant: Traditionally or historically-speaking 'hemp' is cannabis used to provide easily-renewable and sustainable fiber. The differences have to do with sex. Cannabis can be male, female, or a highly variable mixture of both, or hermaphroditic. Males are good for breeding, pollen, and softer household-type fabrics, while females are good for a more course fiber typically used in ropes, seed (grain), and cannabinoid extracts from the flower. As an example, the three foodstuffs below - hearts, grain, and milk - comes from pollinated female hemp cultivars bred to have low levels of cannabinoids so as to focus the plant on grain production.
CBD nor any other cannabinoid can be efficiently derived from those or the female hemp plants they come from (the seeds are also sterilized). For grain and specifically fiber cannabis cultivars, it makes no sense to try and derive cannabinoid extracts compared to high-cannabinoid varieties (referred to legally as Marijuana), because the cannabinoid levels are too low and it would be low quality compared to more traditional 'medical' female cannabis flower.
You start with the raw seed there in the middle. From those you can get hemp seed protein, cold-pressed hemp seed oil, hemp seed milk (right), and hemp hearts (left)... not high-CBD or THC flower.
Tip: Any company telling you they derive their 'full spectrum hemp extracts' from fiber or grain-hemp plants, stalk, or seed is probably lying to you. Something's not right in that equation unless they've got groundbreaking plant science to share. More than likely they're selling you a concentrate which may or may not be plant-derived or worse. This is lower-quality and not as effective as genuine full spectrum or whole plant extracts.
The 2018 Farm bill created what amounts to a new class of cannabis. Now, any cannabis with less than 0.3% THC is considered 'hemp' when in reality the 'hemp CBD' extracts are coming from female cannabis...the same female cannabis ALL THC-dominant flower has always come from. What's changed is the genetic makeup, so you can get female flower with the same degree of terpenes (responsible for the classic zesty, fruity, lavender, lemony, skunky, or pine tree smells of modern female cannabis strains) and high amounts of CBD, but within the legal limits of THC - thereby transforming it from what would've been called 'Marijuana' starting in the late 19th and early 20th century into a new kind of low-THC hemp.
Make sense? Listen, I've been in Colorado hemp greenhouses and Washington recreational cannabis greenhouses and there's no visible difference between these plants to the untrained eye - it's just cannabis with new high-CBD genetic profiles. And this leads to our second step.
Step 2: Stand with Quality Providers
In my opinion, affiliates should be gravitating to providers who grow their own cannabis legally through the states in which they reside (like These 5 Hemp Farms Offering CBD Products). Unfortunately this means the amount of options are limited - not many farms like these have affiliate programs yet - but that's changing swiftly.
A handful of questions to help you sort through the quagmire are:
Is the provider transparent with where their extracts are from, or shady and secretive? All talk and no show?
Yes, it's natural for the specific genetics of new hemp-cannabis plants to be protected, but is the provider open about where the plants are farmed - and how, which is important?
Do they make a ton of claims about the best genetics and extraction technology without actually showing or proving who the farmers and providers are? How much do you know about cannabis extraction options and their impacts on quality?
Are they representing some flashy new cannabis-chemistry-concoction? Just how far away from the organic natural plant extract is the product? For example, starting with the raw extract and then putting it through some sort of nano-super-conductor process?
They may show you so-called lab testing results for their products, but are they official CoAs or something anyone could create in Canva? Verify the lab. If you can't, why?
If they're claiming to source from American farmers, there's no real or legal reason they can't share the farmer with you. Not in my opinion.
If they're claiming international farmers, again, do they verify this or just state it? If you don't know, then it could easily be coming from basically anywhere or be anything.
Try to gain a basic understanding of the 'from seed to extract' process and supply chain. Meaning from seed genetics - new 'hemp' strains - to often initial greenhouse processes, to field growing methods, to extraction, to end product.
Again, look for farmers selling their own goods or companies with a 1 to 5'ish-acre farm producing quality extracts in their own controlled environments. In time the number of options will grow, but for me, I want nothing to do with the mega-corporate aspect of this industry.
Avoid the Mishmash
When you visit a recreational cannabis dispensary, it's almost unheard of to purchase a bag of multiple strains all meshed together. No one I've ever smoked THC-dominant cannabis does this either - put 2, 3, 4, or 5 kinds of flower into the bowl or joint. When you work with hemp CBD providers who control their supply chain they'll be more likely to provide a consistent quality end product from a single strain through constantly using 'mother plants' for cloning.
This is better than working with a provider who claims they work with multiple farmers. That would mean they get multiple strains, throw them together, extract from the mishmash and yeah...the only way that could be consistent is if they're putting the extract through intense processing that provides a very limited-spectrum extract (or perhaps a concentrate).
Step 3: Be Realistic, Start Small, Start Local
In the beginning of this article we went through some of the current realities within the greater hemp industry (both male and female). Take it into consideration along with the sheer amount of competition to sprout in coming years. Once you have a solid beginner-education on the plant and the ECS and have a quality provider you can honestly stand behind, start selling as local as you can. Don't try to sell these extracts to 'everyone' or blindly jump into the digital marketing and ecommerce games (unless you already have an established platform). Start small, start local, start simple.
I hope this provided a helpful breakdown of where we’re at as a nation regarding hemp and what you're stepping into as a hemp CBD affiliate. We're in the embryonic stages of all this including the deeper science, but marketers are trying to convince people we're on the launchpad ready to blast off into cosmic profits. In some respects we are, but most of the 'taking off' is happening on the major corporate levels. We the people and our farming communities still need to build the rocket, the pad, the control room, train the astronauts, and...
By all means, get involved, as an affiliate or otherwise, but don’t be hasty and don’t be swayed by anyone, or any company, throwing around big $$$ signs and telling you you’re going to make it rich. Most people/startups/farmers getting involved in the U.S. hemp industry in 2019-2020 and probably 2021 won’t see cosmic profits, as we’ll be in the industry-construction stage on all levels. Fast forward 3-5+ years and we’re talking about revenue generation levels that could all but dispel huge portions of our national debt and trade deficits. Not to mention savings in terms of health and environmental costs as per the status quo. Thanks for listening.