Last weekend, August 2-4 of 2019 was USA CBD Expo which was held at the Miami Beach Convention Center. As with any trade show, there were a lot of products to be seen, and many of them were very similar, highly marketing and branding focused, with not a lot of product differentiation between them. I attempted to cut through that stuff (as per the sign shown behind me) and get to the heart of the matter -- who had the best CBD and cannabis products to show for?
JUST CBD is a brand that has gotten a lot of attention as it has many types of products in its arsenal, which include typical tinctures and vape cartridges and many kinds of edibles. As far as I could tell it was the only vendor with a CBD-infused protein bar. The show was really busy and I couldn't get out for lunch, so JUST CBD's Cookies and Cream bar fit the bill. It tasted pretty good too.
One of the biggest challenges with CBD is absorption because cannabidiol only has about 10 or 15% bioavailability when compared to other routes of administration such as vaping, which is as much as 50%. Water-soluble nanotechnology manufacturing processes not only increase absorption of CBD, but it also improves onset time. Manufacturers such as ERTH Hemp claim effects can be felt within 60 seconds, which is great for folks who don't want to vape but need relief from symptoms of conditions like anxiety quickly.
CBD can be helpful with several other conditions related to inflammation, not just for neurological issues such as anxiety, PTSD, or epilepsy. One of the areas being researched is for relief of gynecological and menstrual-related discomfort. Maxine Morgan had some products on display specifically targeting the OB/GYN market.
There are many CBD-infused waters on the market, but I particularly liked Day One, a sparkling water product with natural flavorings which launched at USA CBD Expo. The flavors are a lot like La Croix (Lemon, Grapefruit, Watermelon) and it has very subdued branding like Vitamin Water, which I think is classy.
There are many CBD vape products on the market and it is hard to tell who is trustworthy. Savage is a Washington State-based cannabis company that has been making THC products for a long time, and has been in the OTC CBD vape and tincture market since 2016. It is actively increasing its national retail presence at vape shops and other outlets, and I'm looking forward to trying the samples I took home.
We tend to think of terpene profiles with THC products, such as the differences between Sativas, Indicas, and Hybrids that produce different physical and psychoactive effects, but not so much with CBD. CalyFX has six different CBD formulations enhanced with natural terpenes from cannabis and plants (such as Limonene and Myrcene) to suit specific moods and social situations: Social, Sex, Appetite, Endurance, Sleep and Relief.
Everyone seems to want to get on the CBD pod vape train with JUUL and PAX ERA getting so much attention in the nicotine and recreational cannabis space. Ki Vapor is a pod system that had a lot of marketing muscle behind it at the show, and it was one of the more attractive devices that I've seen, but these are all using proprietary pod designs. I hope the industry can do something a bit more standardized that doesn't require special licensing.
VELX is a vape manufacturer that targets products for the medical marijuana industry. Its ESSO system which accommodates both pod and disposables is ultra stealthy and discreet and can contain up to 3ml of vape oil.
There were a lot of vaping devices at the show, but the product I was most impressed with by far (and decided to purchase myself) was the Phenopen, a high-end CBD vape device by Mabsut Life, an Israeli company with deep experience in the medical cannabis industry. The Phenopen may look like every other vape pen, but looks are deceiving. It uses a proprietary magnetic connect cartridge with a glass mouthpiece that contains 500mg of CBD vape oil which is only composed of cannabidiol and natural terpenes and no other flavorings. The hemp used in the vape oil itself is of Israeli genetic origin and is grown organically in Eastern Europe with a pleasant neutral green tea-like flavor. The pen has haptic feedback to indicate the firing of the atomizer, a colored halo charging indicator and has a well-engineered, high-quality feel to it. The company fulfills direct orders on its website in Europe but is seeking partners and distribution in the US.
There are quite a few loose-leaf vaporizers for marijuana and CBD hemp flower on the market, especially high-end stuff like PAX 3. Airistech is a Chinese manufacturer of vape devices, and its new Airis Switch 3 in 1 vaporizer with three selectable temperatures, loadable/swappable flower "bullets," haptic feedback and a replaceable standard 2200mah battery caught my eye.
While the show was primarily consumer product-focused, quite a few B2B companies were there as well. ATG specializes in bottling and manufacturing systems
Several commercial manufacturers of CBD isolate were in attendance, including Mile High Labs, one of the better-known ones in the industry.
The packaging is an equally important aspect of the cannabis and CBD industry. This box for vape cartridges from Denali Innovations, who specializes in the cannabis industry, has a child-proof lock on it.
Plant genetics is an important aspect of the CBD and marijuana industry. Valley High Genetics had a few of its hemp plants on display. These two were named "Trump T1" and "Stormy Daniels", interestingly enough.
Industrial Hemp and marijuana are the same species, and to the untrained eye they look and smell identical, but from a legal perspective, hemp used for CBD production is not classified as cannabis as it has less than .03 percent THC in it. Here is a closeup of some Trump T1 seedlings. No, you can't make this stuff up.