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Tanner Quinn shares his story of selling CBD products and the business hurdles he faces

Tanner Quinn holds a bottle of CBD oil in front of the Aloha Center

After his small business creation class ended, Tanner Quinn said he still believes in the product he sold: CBD (Cannabidiol) oils. While in the class, Quinn, a junior from California majoring in business finance, began working for a company called Yes Life selling CBD oils. According to Quinn, he suffered from sleep issues and stress from school. However,since using CBD oils, he said he has seen changes in his life.

“Once I started using it, I noticed a dramatic difference in my sleep quality. I started seeing the benefits of lowering stress and anxiety in school.”

According to the Harvard Medical School, CBD is one of the two main active ingredients in marijuana. In a report on CBD, the Harvard Medical School said, “While CBD is a component of marijuana (one of hundreds), by itself it does not cause a ‘high.’”

While The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has said the use of medical marijuana is permitted under “appropriate circumstances,” it has not made any statements about CBD products.

Quinn said the Church has not made a statement because in his opinion “they don’t need to.” He believes CBD is not the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana which produces a high, and it is a non-addictive supplement.

CBD products derived from the hemp plant are legal in the State of Hawaii, according to the federal Farm Bill passed in 2018, and on the Food and Drug Administration’s website.

Before becoming involved in the CBD industry, Quinn said he did not know much about what CBD was or what it was used for. Once he began selling CBD products for Yes Life, he said he has learned of the benefits and uses for it.

According to the Harvard Medical School’s report on CBD, some benefits include treating chronic pain and inflammation. The report also said, “CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.”

After serving his mission in Zambia, Connor Hollingsworth, a senior from California majoring in accounting, said he developed an eye irritation issue. After visiting different doctors and being prescribed different medicines which did not solve the issue, Hollingsworth began buying CBD products from Quinn.

Hollingsworth said CBD products have helped his eyes, and even his sleep, because his eyes are not constantly in pain. He called CBD products “a much healthier alternative to prescription drugs.” Hollingsworth explained this statement by saying, “With CBD oils, I’ve had no bad side effects.”

A lack of understanding about what CBD is and is not is part of the reason why more people do not use it, said both Quinn and Hollingsworth.

Another student, Joana Chibota, a sophomore from Zimbabwe majoring in biology, said she did not know anything about CBD products. “The most I knew about it is my hemp shampoo, and that doesn’t even count,” she said.

Quinn said most people hear the name CBD and assume it is the same as marijuana. To him, this misunderstanding has made it hard to grow his business in Hawaii. Quinn said he tried to have his products put on sale at the BYU–Hawaii Bookstore, however his request was denied.

A bottle of hemp CBD oil in the grass next to its packaging case.

The effects and benefits of CBD products can vary explained Quinn. The only way to know if it will work is for someone to try it, he added. Quinn said he thinks there is “little to no risk in trying [CBD products].”

Another issue he said that has made it difficult is the skepticism surrounding the product. According to the FDA’s official website, most CBD products are not FDA approved for use as dietary supplements. As of March 30, 2020, the FDA has only approved one drug containing CBD, used to treat epilepsy.

“[CBD products are] not FDA tested and approved, so it falls in the realm of essential oils,” said Quinn. This means although CBD products are permitted to be manufactured and sold, CBD products are not permitted to be sold as dietary supplements. As a result they fall in the same category as essential oil products.

According to the Hawaii Department of Health CBD information page, CBD products are not approved to be used as over-the-counter medicine. They said Hawaii supports the Department of Health’s policies, in restricting products not approved by the FDA. In this case that would be CBD products listed as medicine or dietary supplements

Although more testing needs to be done on CBD products, Quinn said he envisions a future in which more and more people use these products in their everyday lives.