- Alexa Ace
- CBD Plus USA offers a variety of CBD products.
With President Donald Trump’s signature on the 2018 farm bill last month, industrial hemp became an ordinary agricultural commodity, and CBD Plus USA sees it as bringing the company one step closer to getting its products into all 50 states.
“Very few people want to get in our space — CBD only,” president Matt Baker said. “When a state opens up like California or Colorado, the THC is kind of the shiny object. It gets you high.”
For the company executives, learning more about the plant’s benefits and conducting experiments in creating new products to better serve the patients are their driving forces.
Founder and CEO Ryan Vicedomini is bringing the lessons he learned as an entrepreneur in the nicotine vaporizer business to the cannabis trade.
“I used vaping to quit smoking,” he said. “Both of my grandparents died from cancer-related illnesses from smoking, and if I would have had my vape company 10 years prior, I would have both my grandparents still. They both died early, in their 60s.”
He recently sold the company he founded, Vapor World, and moved into the CBD space in November 2017 with the same intention of using the market to improve the health and quality of life of other Oklahomans.
“I saw a niche. ... I got some and tried it again, and it worked, you know, and it started something in my mind and I couldn’t stop it,” Vicedomini said. “So I basically joined up with a friend, and I opened up half of a location and shared the other half of the location with another company, and without even a sign, our first month, we started just killing it.
“I basically started just by going to a wholesale website, bought 10 grand worth of stuff and put it on the shelves. It really wasn’t rocket science. But what I ended up finding out was everybody else’s stuff that I was buying was either too expensive for me to offer the customer a good price or — I hadn’t started testing our products — it had no CBD in it. It may have had a 10th of what it was representing sometimes. So once we figured that out, we started vetting all of our vendors. We started making sure that if we were going to sell it, it had to match up. And that’s the standards we opened with at [Interstate] 240 and Penn[sylvania Avenue] with the new brand, new everything.”
Vicedomini launched the first full CBD Plus USA on Feb. 1. By year’s end, there were over 50 stores open in Oklahoma and seven other states, with double that number set to open soon in those and several other states.
“It all starts with being accountable to ourselves,” Vicedomini said. “That’s where it started. It started with the vape industry, where I wanted to provide a better product at a better price. Same philosophy here. It’s provided a very good product that is all farm-to-table. It’s U.S.-sourced, 100 percent. Oklahoma, Colorado and Oregon. Period. It comes from no other place. What’s in that bottle is on a label that shows you what it is, and not some sort of fake percentage. If it says 1,000 milligrams in it, it truly has 1,000 active milligrams, no questions asked, and I have a lab test in the book that they can see, even online, representing exactly what it is. I think there’s a lot of fraud on what’s out there. ... You’re getting a clean product every single time and guaranteed to have the cannabinoids on the profile sheet.”
Some companies run laboratory testing infrequently and intermittently on their products, he said, but every CBD Plus USA product has a batch number printed on it. Consumers can reference the lab tests from ProVerde Laboratories, Inc., a medical marijuana testing company in Massachusetts.
- High Five Media / provided
- Ryan Vicedomini sold his vaping business and reinvested the proceeds into starting CBD Plus USA.
“We’re so confident in our product that we’re the only company that offers a money-back guarantee,” Baker said.
Vicedomini said the product return rate is less than 1 percent.
While CBD Plus USA does now offer smokeable cannabis flower, the explosion of dispensaries catering to high-THC products and their own snowballing number of franchisees are not altering the company’s course.
You’ll have to search a little to find it. The cannabis flower is in opaque packaging on a middle shelf among a host of other products at the headquarters location, 420 N. Pennsylvania Ave. — no loud smells, menu boards or glass jars full of green announce its presence.
“The reason that our THC side has not boomed like some of these head shops where people want to go get high is because we just haven’t jumped the market. We’re sticking with our medical dosing, low-and-slow,” Baker said.
“We’re seeing so much success with our customers — our patients — that they’re bringing their friends in, and our businesses do well because we’re treating people the way that they should be treated with an amazing product, and we’re dumping that money right back into education because that’s going to continue to help these people understand how to get the most benefit from it,” said executive vice president Jake Chilcoat. “It’s not we’re sitting over here developing this big company so it’s all for ourselves. It’s really, truly to help people and we put our money where our mouth is by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in education specifically that will directly benefit the customer.
“We have a call center that’s dedicated. You never have to sit on with an operator or wait on hold or anything like that. We’ve got live people that are sitting, waiting to answer questions whether it’s on Facebook or Instagram or our website. You can call our 1-800 number. It’s real people. ... When they’re not talking to a customer, they’re doing their research and they’re speaking to our medical director. ... We’ve got people who are sitting there every day educating themselves and pushing the envelope on what we understand about the product, and those people, our customers have access to them. Pick up the phone. Call them right now. Ask any questions until you’re blue in the face, until you’re tired of asking questions.”
In 2019, the company will open a 25,000 square-foot education facility with classrooms and a 300-person auditorium, Vicedomini said.
“Education is our driving force that we want to push because we want transparency in the industry,” Chilcoat said. “We want good, solid standards and regulations, and we want the public to be educated and really, truly understand how this incredible, incredible product can impact people.”
That quality control, Baker said, is what sets CBD Plus USA apart.
“A lot of these pop-up shops, all they care about is making their money right now,” he said. “We are the fastest-growing franchise in the United States of America. We’re not only accountable to our customers; we’re accountable to 106 other people that paid us to be really good at making sure that we’re executing great product with great lab results that creates a great medical effect in this industry. In the absence of that, we’re just like every other cash-grab schmuck that’s opening up shops on every corner in Oklahoma.”