Cannabidiol—commonly known as CBD—is just one of the many active cannabinoids naturally found in cannabis plants. In the United States today, CBD products can be acquired easily, from the counter of any given gas station or wellness boutique to online stores, providing oils, gummies, bath bombs, and even pet treats that help ease symptoms of anxiety, pain, and insomnia. But it wasn’t always this way.
It wasn’t until 2018 that the United States Congress removed cannabis and hemp-derived CBD from the list of federally controlled substances. Since then, many more people’s minds have been opened to its benefits, taking a compound that was once—and still is, in many other parts of the world—viewed as criminal, and normalizing it into everyday society. Although CBD still may have its share of disputants, the change has been impactful.
According to Zeb Booker, the chief technology officer at cbdMD, that can all be accredited to education. “When CBD first came out, nobody really understood it. For some reason, people think it’s just like THC,” he says. Both ingredients are present in cannabis and can treat symptoms, but THC produces a psychoactive “high” effect while CBD does not.
“We’ve had to break through the noise and get people to understand that we’re selling the highest quality, triple-tested, and doctor-formulated products that give you all the benefits of CBD without any of the negative effects of THC,” Booker explains.
As one of the few publicly owned CBD companies in the United States, cbdMD was one of the first in the business to complete the lengthy and expensive clinical trials that, in turn, provide the science to back up the health statements about its products. As a result, cbdMD is pioneering the replacement of pharmaceutical drugs and their associated side effects with natural CBD, a choice that many have already reaped the benefits of.
“Because we are a publicly traded company, everything we do is above the board,” Booker says. “We do everything as if we were fully regulated by the FDA, so that when they do decide to regulate it, we can be the standard.” However, coming into the CBD space, there’s been a bit of a learning curve. Not just for Booker, but for everyone.
Being cbdMD’s CTO, Booker not only leads a gigantic development team, complete with in-house counsel and a group of scientists, but he also works closely with the marketing, sales, procurement, warehousing, and ERP teams to coordinate the integration of new software with the enterprise infrastructure.
To achieve those sorts of nuanced tasks, Booker says that communication is key: requests have to be transcribed in a way that coders and developers understand, and everyone has to be on the same page. “My biggest thing is team. It’s all about the team. Working with every department, it’s all about taking multiple people’s opinions to come up with a solution. No one person has the right answer,” he affirms.
But CBD laws are constantly changing, not just from state to state but country to country, so Booker and his team spend a lot of time keeping up with those shifts. Only now, as the company begins its expansion into the international market, those changes have become even more imperative.
“CBD is new in Japan, and it’s heavily regulated. It took us months to get through their narcotics division, their customs, and get approval,” Booker says. Those strict regulations have been formative in cbdMD’s decision to follow a direct selling model in its overseas endeavor, which not only avoids the overhead costs of marketing and distribution but makes sense in a country where people are limited to purchasing only what they can personally consume.
“The direct selling model does have some stigmatism to it, but there are companies who do it right. We’ve put our best foot forward, taken the best models in the market, and kind of conjoined a couple of them so that it’s profitable for the company, and the people who are starting their own businesses and working as basically independent business owners for us over there,” Booker explains.
In the time that cbdMD has had real revenue in Japan, things have looked positive. “It’s been interesting, and while it’s still in its infancy [at time of speaking], it’s opened us up to a lot of other Asian markets,” Booker says. Through its work with government officials in different countries, cbdMD is spreading awareness on what CBD does for the human body, and some of them are coming around. “I do see several countries starting to pay attention and change the rules because there’s a demand for it.”
However, that hasn’t come without time and effort. Not only has Booker helped lead the company’s expansion, he has also overseen all of the development and structure for the Asian markets—a responsibility that he has committed countless hours beyond his normal job to do.
Between the time difference with Japan and dealing with the chaos of the day-to-day, Booker’s work can get stressful. Luckily, he works for a company that specializes in destressing. But for the CTO who grew up in the southwest, his method of unwinding his keeping active. “Whether it’s snowmobiling in the mountains in the winter or going boating in the summer,” he says, “that’s my relaxation.”
NexTec Group is an award-winning business software consulting firm with over twenty-eight years’ experience. We specialize in implementing ERP, BI, cloud, and on-premise solutions for mid-sized businesses that can manage a wide variety of business essentials. We worked with Zeb and cbdMD to implement Acumatica as their new ERP solution.
RMG is a full-service digital commerce agency specializing in helping businesses with online sales and marketing. Our services include website design, development, digital advertising, social media management, and search engine optimization. Utilizing data-driven strategies and the latest e-commerce trends, the agency helps businesses increase online revenue and boost brand awareness. Learn more at rmgmedia.com.