What: CBD Shop Mandeville
Film By: UNO Student and documentarian Joshua Allen
Editor’s Note: NolaVie partners with students of UNO professor László Zsolt Fülöp, pairing them with artists, non-profits, environmental groups, and cultural entities to facilitate a live curriculum that results in a short documentary. Joshua Allen interviews John Popp about opening and running the CBD Shop in Mandeville, Lousiana. Topics include removing the stigma of cannabis and how it can be used as a beneficial medicine. They also discuss setbacks from conflicting industries and working with overbearing government restrictions.
|Read the full transcript of the documentary below|
My name’s John Pop; I own the central business district the CBD shop in Mandeville, Louisiana. I started the shop, or, the business, in 2017. We did some product research for about three months — meaning we ordered a bunch of different CBD products online. It was kind of unreal to believe that it was happening, so we wanted to do product research but also at the same time validate what was going on with the market. After doing that for a while and the products working, we went ahead and decided, based on that, what products we were going to bring into the store. Then [we] got everything geared up and opened the actual location March 1st of 2018 here in Mandeville, Louisiana.
We decided to with Mandeville [because] New Orleans and Baton Rouge already having marijuana decriminalized; it was already kind of accepted there. Everything that goes on with the culture there already kind of accepts cannabis. As a whole, the laws are kind of set up a little freer so if we can make it happen here in the state in Mandeville, then pretty much we feel like people would start to take a different look at cannabis as a medicine versus a bad plant that’s going to harm people or make people make bad decisions. That was our main goal: if we could open it in a conservative place then it should be able to be welcomed everywhere.
[We] had some pretty major setbacks when we first started. Setbacks with certain industries that were conflicting with our industry, aka our state marijuana industries. We started here in 2018 off of the Farm Bill, so there was no state law in Louisiana that referenced hemp; it was still considered a controlled substance marijuana. We saw the gray area and saw the silver lining in it and decided to go ahead and pursue or get ahead of the wave that was about to be created from the federal government legalizing hemp which did come around in 2018 slightly after you we opened.
We’re probably open for six to eight months and then the Farm Bill got signed in, and that created some major conflict with the ATC (the alcohol tobacco control) because they were already actively fining people for selling CBD vape liquids and synthetics.
There was already an uproar of people that were fine that happened. We worked with legislators here in 2018 after the Federal Farm Bill was already being signed and were able to come to an agreement with the ATC state police and certain legislators for the state that we were going to allow the ATC to regulate it. They passed the law December 23 of 2018, which legalized hemp and CBD products but at the same time created a legal pathway for products to be registered. 2020 they implemented an excess tax for us, so we sell cannabis products that are high in CBD low in THC, and we pay an extra three percent just to sell them in this state.
But at the same time, our medical marijuana system that is high in THC and typically low or no CBD in their products — they look at that as a therapeutic product or medicinal so therefore it’s not taxed. So we have a same plant that’s basically grown two different ways, and one’s taxed and looked at as a demon [with] an excise tax almost like cigarettes or gas. Then you have medical cannabis on this end, which is typically the same plant that’s looked at as a medicine that’s untaxed. So our industry is definitely, here in Louisiana, restricted a little more than most other states for sure.
My overall goal, and I believe the overall goal in the general hemp industry, and most people would probably agree, would be for full legalization of cannabis to help people understand that it’s just a plant. That it’s not bad, that there’s a lot of healing potential. And just like anything there’s people that are fine with it, there’s people that aren’t gonna be able to touch it just because the way their body works. But I really am fighting for legal recreational adult use cannabis and that’s the overall goal is to get an infrastructure here where you have banks businesses that are willing to participate in selling manufacturing or growing or banking and put it into use.