Local entrepreneur overcomes state hurdles to get cannabidiol products to market

Although legal skirmishes thwarted her plans to distribute cannabis products at all the local farmers markets this summer, Brook Green, owner of Troll Meds in Vicksburg, is finally back in business at the Vicksburg market, selling her locally produced CBD-infused salves and oils at the Friday farm market. 

That means anyone who wants to try her topical treatments for their own ailments or to treat their pets can simply buy them when they pick up the fruits and vegetables more commonly associated with farm market booths.

No medical marijuana card is necessary, nor is a trip to a special dispensary. And Green says her prices -- $10 for an ounce of balm containing 100 mg CBD -- are lower and her quality more reliable than the products available online.

The source of the CBD Green uses in her products is hemp, not marijuana, and her ability to show that has made her products legal for everyone, no prescription required, under Michigan law, she says.

Green's business is part of what is expected to be a growth industry in more ways than the obvious. A report by Forbes, Brightfield Group released in February of this year estimates that hemp CBD sales hit $170 million in 2016 and projects that Hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) will be a billion-dollar market in just three years. 

 Sue Moore, public relations manager for the Vicksburg Farmers market, says five weeks into summer the Troll Meds booth seems to be operating smoothly, most recently situated between sweet peas and doggy bath bombs. Customers can place their orders and pick them up the following week, Moore says.

In fact, she herself overcame her initial misgivings and recently ordered some oil in the hopes it might help her 12-year-old Maine Coon cat, Scrapper, who suffers from anxiety.

Troll Meds starts with the dogs

Cannabidiol is valued for relief of pain and seizures, and is used on both people and pets, Green says. It was her own dog’s medical condition that first piqued her interest in preparing the products. 

She was searching for a natural alternative to the traditional veterinary medications she was using to control seizures suffered by her dog, Zeus. “I came across dog treats with CBD, and it worked 100 percent,” she says.

She decided to begin making her own creams and salves using all natural ingredients and reliable concentrations of CBD — cannabidiol. 

Found in both hemp and marijuana plants, CBD is a component of the plant that causes no psychotropic effects. “It has tons of medical values,” Green says.

She went on to start the business in February.  She chose the name Troll Meds “because I wanted something that fit Michigan and maybe only Michiganders would understand.”

Trolls is a slang term for people who live in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula  -- beneath the Mackinac bridge -- just as Yoopers is slang for those who live in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, she says.

A question of access

As she researched all of CBD’s uses, Green became interested in topical applications such as creams and lip balms. 

It was her father, Bret Green, president of the Vicksburg Farmers Market Board, who encouraged her to sell her products at the farmer’s market. He sells meats at his booth, Green’s MMBeefalo, right across the aisle from Troll Meds.

“I was leery going into it, “ Green says of selling at the local market. “There is a stigma that hangs over it,  being a cannabis product,” she says, “though the positive aspects of CBD are becoming more widely known and accepted.”

Green says she has found that customers are enthusiastic about her products because they are locally produced, affordable, and have consistent potency. She also offers affordable trial sizes and lower prices than people may find available online.

“Most of my customers either have arthritis or aches and pains from injuries, and they are seeking a natural alternative” to narcotic pain medication, she says.

Green says her products have no side effects, and users can’t overdose; CBD is not considered a medicine but a plant extract, similar to peppermint oil, and her products are not intended for consumption. 

No need.

“Skin absorption is the second fastest (medication route into the body)” Green says, “after dissolving under the tongue.”

She says having her products available at the Farmers Market makes them accessible to people who do not hold medical marijuana cards but are interested in alternative pain relief.

“I’m not a doctor, I have no medical background, and I’d never tell anyone to stop taking medications” prescribed by their physicians, Green says.  

Branching out

Vicksburg Farmers Market's Moore says they have found Troll Meds to be a good vendor, following a good example in her parents.

Still, it's not been totally smooth sailing. Back in May, at the opening day of the Portage Farmers Market, Green nearly sold out of her  CBD-infused products and was prepped to up the number of items she took the next week.

But two days before that market, May 10, a change in the state’s regulatory rules brought those plans to a halt.

Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) released an advisory bulletin ruling that the possession, purchase, or sale of marijuana or any marijuana product -- including CBD -- must fall under the state’s marijuana laws, which meant those products could only be sold in dispensaries to patients with medical marijuana cards. 

Happily for Green, LARA also advised that marijuana does not include industrial hemp. That meant Green could legally sell her products at the Farmers Market if she could show the CBD in her products was derived from industrial hemp and not a marijuana plant. 

“The difference is in the genealogy of the cannabis strain,” Green says. “Any cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC is considered hemp --  the CBD I use has to come from that. 

“I was able to get documentation proving this.”

Gabby Gerken, manager of the Kalamazoo and Portage farmers markets, says that when the law changed a few days after their first market Troll Meds lost its spot in Portage and now the City of Portage will not allow the business to return to the market to give out information or talk about her products or medical marijuana.

Green does distribute information at the Kalamazoo market and says she is hopeful a spot will open there soon for the Thursday night market.

Read more articles by Rosemary Parker.

Rosemary Parker has worked as a writer and editor for more than 40 years, most of that time in Southwest Michigan.