Listening to Denver-based business attorney Alex Buscher talk about hemp is a bit like listening to a professional surfer talk about the swell on the eve of a big competition.
He is familiar, almost comforted by the ebbs and flows of the hemp industry, keenly aware of the ever-changing regulations, but also concentrating on what tomorrow will bring for hemp.
Buscher sees hemp as the next real ‘industrial innovation’ and one that will ultimately lead to a transformative green wave. As he puts it, “It’s going to take some time, but I foresee CBD becoming just a small part of a much broader hemp market.” What he’s talking about is the possibility that hemp will ultimately replace plastic, paper, and other materials.
Buscher is now one of just a handful of exclusively hemp-focused attorneys in the USA. His firm, Buscher Law is headquartered in Denver, Colorado and expanding its reach across the country as he methodically pushes his team forward to the frontlines of the budding hemp industry.
His firm provides legal services to any company dealing in hemp that happens to have ties to Colorado. His mission is to bring entrepreneurs and innovators into compliance and help them navigate the treacherous regulatory waters of this new and exciting industry. It’s not an easy task.
Is there a new green wave on the horizon? If so, Buscher’s vision has his firm sitting in the ideal position to paddle into the first huge wave of it.
I got the opportunity to speak with Alex and find out what Buscher Law is focused on today and maybe more importantly, tomorrow – with regards to his legal services in the hemp industry.
(IL): Alex, can you tell us briefly about your legal specialty in hemp law and what types of companies your firm, Buscher Law, works with?
AB: I focus my Denver based legal practice on the hemp industry. As long as a company has a connection to Colorado, we can work together. I’ll be expanding to other states in the near future.
My work focuses on forming companies, drafting transactional documents, and advising hemp companies on compliance with applicable law. I focus a great deal on product labeling and how products get marketed to the consumer, as to not open up my clients to civil or criminal legal liability.
For example, companies claiming CBD is a dietary supplement or making any medical claims whatsoever, are breaking a federal statute which has criminal consequences. Companies claiming THC-free when the products are not THC-free gives rise to civil liability if a consumer loses their job, probation status, or potentially even their child for a positive drug test.
Aside from that I also represent Safe Access Colorado, an incredible organization whose goal is to educate regarding the benefits and risks of medical marijuana; stop the discrimination of medical marijuana patients; and fight to ensure safe regulated access for medical marijuana patients.
(IL): As far as the hemp industry, can you share with us your thoughts on it currently? What’s happening now and what’s next for hemp?
CBD will end up being a small part of the larger hemp market. Hemp can be utilized in construction for building materials, in consumer plastics, to replace wood paper, and even to make different types of reinforced metals and other materials.
A lot of the new uses for hemp are at the proof of concept stage and it will take time to commercialize.
With the price of CBD finally coming down, hemp is diversifying to become a much larger industry with many different avenues for businesses. It will take time, but the hemp wave has just begun.
What are the legal challenges that hemp companies face and what value does your law firm provide to them?
Compliance, funding, and vision. These are the big challenges to any company operating in the industry.
First, hemp laws are ever-changing, and a nationwide hemp company will find it really challenging to navigate the regulations from state-to-state without a dedicated attorney.
Additionally, companies need to be responsible about how they manufacture and label their products as to not open up themselves or their customers to legal liability. So, I help them understand what they can and cannot claim their product is and does.
Most areas of the hemp industry require large capital investments, which is tricky in a newly legalized industry with many banks still wary of servicing anything hemp related, let alone lending directly to the industry. Finding reliable funding sources is key to success.
Finally, success in this industry takes vision, and vision can be a rare commodity these days.
What’s on the horizon for your practice in hemp law? Are there any legal trends you see developing – where your time will be more invested in going forward?
Well short term, there’s been a market crash in the price of hemp and CBD. Additionally, the economic impact of Coronavirus scared a lot of investors, so much of the high-risk speculative funding is gone for the moment.
In the bigger picture, I see an opening up of the fiber and grain markets. Hemp has so many uses which makes it a valuable resource. It can be used for building materials, papers, plastic, biofuels. These are all huge industries. A ton of products can be made from hemp.
Right now, the broader industry is still in its infancy and we are at the proof of concept stage. The market is slowly being introduced to funding and it will grow from those investments and research.
Once the money moves from CBD to other uses for hemp, I think the biggest targets will be plastic, paper, and technical materials. There is a huge opportunity for hemp there.
For example, there hasn’t a been true effort made into producing a clear 100% hemp plastic bottle that will degrade under normal environmental conditions but won’t break down when filled with acidic juices or soda. It will ultimately depend on what scientists and engineers are able to do with the materials.
Another sustainable use is paper as it takes just several months to grow hemp, while it takes 10-20 years to grow trees for paper. There are a lot of green uses for hemp and I see there being a new green wave in the near future. It won’t happen without visionaries and risk-takers though.
What kind of advice can you give to entrepreneurs looking to enter the cannabis or hemp industry?
My biggest piece of advice is pretty simple: don’t do what everybody else is doing. If there are hundreds of companies making CBD tinctures or skin care products, go in another direction.
I see a lot of entrepreneurs entering into extremely saturated markets. Bring an innovative idea into the market in a niche area, get well-funded if possible, and focus on making that innovation successful. The biggest issue is too much competition making the same exact product.
Go where people are thinking and talking about going but haven’t yet gone.
This takes visionaries and innovative thinking.