GrönCafe, the first CBD cafe in America just opened its doors in Portland, Oregon.
The June launch of GrönCafe marks a historic moment for CBD’s rapidly increasing popularity in the U.S.
Portland, Oregon is known for embracing the weird & distinct aspects of life, which is probably why it’s home to the first CBD cafe in the U.S. Oregon is also one of the trailblazer’s when it comes to cannabis, as they were the first state to start decriminalizing in 1973.
We had the privilege of interviewing the Founder & CEO of Grön, Mrs. Christine Smith, who gave us an insider’s look at the creation of her cafe.
A VISIT TO AMERICA’S FIRST CBD CAFE
Grön is the biggest seller of cannabis edibles in the state of Oregon, best known for their delicious THC-infused chocolates. However, none of the products served at GrönCafe contain THC, the compound in psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”) that makes people feel high. Instead, CBD can promote relaxation, ease anxiety, and even relieve some forms of pain.
Located at Grön’s manufacturing facility in southeast Portland, the cafe serves CBD-infused coffee drinks akin to your local coffee shop’s espressos or lattes. Customers can also order all the drinks without the infusion, too. In addition to the coffee drinks, they serve Grön’s original CBD-infused chocolate products. Baristas always encourage first-time buyers to try a variety of products.
WHY CREATE GRÖNCAFE?
Smith moved to Oregon with her husband Jasper (who owned & operated a medical marijuana dispensary at the time) in 1999. After observing his business, she recognized a better way to produce edibles, which at that time were nothing more than chocolates crudely wrapped in cellophane. It’s worth noting that Oregon had just legalized medical cannabis the year before, so the market was still in its infancy.
So in 2014, using her past experience in the medical cannabis business, her background as an architect for over 20 years and the skills she gained from her studies in Denmark, she embarked on her journey with Grön.
“I saw a market that had untapped potential, I saw something amazing that many people haven’t seen yet.”
Now, she’s started the CBD cafe as a way for people to get comfortable with using hemp for healing and as a way to introduce people into the many uses of CBD.
She feels strongly that CBD is one of the most powerful natural substances in the world. Smith hopes her CBD cafe can help remove stigma by providing an easy way for people to try CBD. Smith and her team plan to launch other tasty products too.
THE CHALLENGES OF WORKING WITH CBD & CANNABIS
Smith told us that working in this industry can be very challenging because of the complex regulations, even in a progressive state like Oregon.
Business owners in the cannabis industry are operating in a legal grey area. With state and federal regulations constantly changing, keeping up with rule changes is half the business. Smith and her team are constantly jumping through hoops just to operate as a business.
Take banking for example: while Oregon is very progressive in terms of regulating businesses such as Grön, they are still held back by federal legislation. Oregon passed House Bill 4094 into law on April 4, 2016, which protects financial institutions from prosecution if they work with cannabis companies.
Even with this bill this in place, federal legislation requires financial institutions to comply with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (aka FinCEN) regulations, which are a lot of work for the banks and the businesses. Smith noted there’s copious amounts of paperwork needed to simply have a credit/debit card system for payment and online payroll.
Banking regulations also force her to have separate accounts for the THC side of Grön and the CBD side. To add to all this chaos, there are only two credit unions in the entire state of Oregon who are willing to work with marijuana-related businesses. Note that the THC side of the business is much more complicated and requires much more paperwork than the CBD side.
It’s exhausting to jump through these hoops, but such is the price to pay to be a trailblazer. Keep in mind that this is just for the financial side of her business. She must regularly test her products with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) and a slew of other government agencies.
SO, YOU WANT TO START YOUR OWN CBD CAFE?
Smith offered us four tips for entrepreneurs who want to start their own CBD cafe:
- Pay attention to all laws and regulations. Regulations are constantly in a state of flux on the federal and state levels.
- Study European CBD cafes, such as in Germany & Switzerland. Smith made effective use of her travels in Europe, taking the time to study the already-existing CBD cafes. Keep in mind that European countries are often more progressive towards cannabis, hemp and CBD than America.
- View CBD as a healing supplement, not simply a food ingredient. CBD is not psychoactive like THC and but has real, measurable effects and side effects. CBD is one of the most useful compounds found in the natural world!
- Most importantly, make an awesome product people will enjoy. None of the other tips matter if people don’t want to buy your product.
These rules are simple, but hard to follow.
WAKING UP TO CBD’S POTENTIAL WITH GRÖNCAFE
Christine Smith is a down-to-earth powerhouse of a woman. It was an honor to talk to one of the trailblazers of the CBD revolution.
Smith is doing much more than opening a cafe, she is helping bring CBD into the general public’s eye, making it a mainstream product while offering her customers a delicious and elegant cafe experience. Visit their website and be sure to stop by for a cup of CBD coffee if you’re in the area!
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