“It's all just been good things every day, which we thought was kind of odd. We were expecting, you know, the way the internet is it just everybody to be knocking it, but it's just nothing but positivity and people just saying thank you for having a product like this out there.”
— August Battles
Tinctures, gummies, capsules and topicals are all well and good, but the newest way to get your CBD is also the oldest way — by smoking it. August Battles and Brandon Marhal are both former tobacco smokers who started rolling up joints of CBD-rich hemp out in the garage. They soon discovered they had a product with mass appeal, and CBD joints from Vance Global are now in 12,000 stores across the country. It's been an amazing journey and they are just getting started.
Kannaboomers (00:00): It's Tom. Welcome back to the Kannaboomer podcast. You know, each week we are looking for things to talk about in terms of CBD and cannabis and your own wellness. And usually we're looking for something new and this is new, but in a way it's old. Our guests this week are August Battles and Brandon Marhal, they're the cofounders of a company out of Milwaukee called Vance. Vance is making joints out of CBD rich hemp, so you don't have to swallow a capsule or a tincture or put on a topical patch or whatever. You can get instant relief by inhaling it through your lungs, sort of the ultimate farm to table way to get your CBD with minimal processing. And these guys have made a big splash. Their product is already available in 12,000 stores nationwide. So clearly they're onto something and it'll be interesting to watch this space, but it's a cigarette style joint that you buy in a pack, just like a pack of cigarettes only it's way better for you than smoking tobacco. So we had a great conversation. I hope you enjoy it. I want to invite you to stop by Kannaboomers.com too sign up for our newsletter so you'll always know when the next episode is coming. And a big shout out to Danny in Milwaukee also am walkie who makes us sound good each week and sends us tweets that we can share. Thanks Danny.
Kannaboomers (01:15): Everyone else, enjoy the episode. This is, let's talk about weed, the Kannaboomers Podcast, CBD micro dosing and all things related to medical cannabis for baby boomers from San Diego. Here's your host, Thomas J. I'm here with August Battles in Brandon Marhal, cofounders of Vance. They're making CBD joints and are having a lot of success right now. How are you doing guys?
Austin Battles (01:40): Doing very well. How are you?
Kannaboomers (01:42): Good. Thanks for making the time on a busy Monday, I sent you an outline and as I tell all my guests, we can follow the outline or we can bounce off it. But the big topic is that you guys have made a huge splash in a short amount of time. Are you surprised at your success to this point?
Brandon Marhal (01:58): I would say definitely. Yeah, we were kind of shocked by it. We were just, you know, working jobs and then rolling cigarettes at night, kind of just expecting this to be like a thing to make money on the side, you know, like maybe I can get a bigger TV by Christmas kind of thing. But yeah, it ended up turning into, you know, having to get a factory and more workers and really just kind of an all out party, you know, it's just been nothing but constantly going and we're really surprised by it and pleased and I think it's best case scenario really for us so far.
Kannaboomers (02:32): That's a great story. So just to fill our listeners in we're talking about CBD pre-rolled joints, right? And you guys do a sort of a cigarette style as opposed to sort of the cone style?
Austin Battles (02:44): Yeah, yeah. It's a, it looks like a cigarette, you know, same shape and everything. Me and Brandon actually had that idea a few years back and we didn't really see it being done. So then we kinda just made it happen.
Kannaboomers (02:58): So you say in the beginning you guys were just kind of hand rolling and I assume it's mechanized now you have automatic machines that are probably doing that.
Austin Battles (03:07): Yeah. We have machines. You know, we took several months to develop those and I'm glad we did because otherwise you'd have about 80 people here using hand rollers.
Kannaboomers (03:17): So you developed a filter to go on the cigarette itself.
Austin Battles (03:21): Yeah, that's correct. We developed kind of a unique tube, using hemp paper and we also developed a high flow biodegradable filter that's healthy. It doesn't block any CBD particles. We also branded our own tubes. So we have a pretty unique tube.
Kannaboomers (03:41): So people buy these in a pack, just like a pack of cigarettes.
Austin Battles (03:44): Yeah.
Kannaboomers (03:45): Let's just make sure people understand the difference between hemp and cannabis. Right? You're using a CBD rich hemp.
Brandon Marhal (03:52): Yes. So it looks the same, smells the same, tastes the same as your standard cannabis and, there's different strains it's just really not psychoactive. In higher doses it can be, but it's really just a relaxing,anti-nausea anti-depressant kind of scenario. It's just a different strain of cannabis. So, a lot of people can't really tell the difference when they look at it. In the early days we had to deal with a lot of, police interactions and getting pulled over and things like that. But eventually they got the idea and now the police force kind of knows Vance Global and that it's a legal product. But the differences are really just feeling based, you know, as good for people that don't want lose their minds and maybe, on their lunch break or something at work.
Kannaboomers (04:47): Right. And I guess we should mention, you guys are in Wisconsin where cannabis is still not legal, right? Are you sourcing your hemp locally?
Austin Battles (04:56): Yeah. We have Wisconsin farmers that we work with. We really just like to go local. Last year only about 6% of the hemp that was grown in Wisconsin was actually able to sell. Sowe kind of tried to help out with buying as much as we can locally here. And then, you know, in the early days we did go through Oregon growers, but for the past several months we've been using Wisconsin grow.
Kannaboomers (05:25): You know, you mentioned it's an anti inflammatory, anti-anxiety and some of the other medicinal properties of the plant. Are your customers telling you that they get immediate relief? I mean, that's the thing about smoking it, right? You don't have to wait for a tablet to digest in your stomach or when you smoke it, you're going to get a much more instant effect, I would think.
Brandon Marhal (05:45): Yeah, that's that's correct in smoking. The effects happen a lot sooner than later compared to like ingesting an oil. So it usually hits our customers within five minutes. And with the lavender being added, there's additional antianxiety properties and calming effects on top of the hemp. So it's just a much more effective way because smoking causes it to absorb into your bloodstream twice as quick and you're not going to lose any of the CBD potency that you lose when you ingest like an oil.
Austin Battles (06:19): Yeah, when you smoke CBD, it's about 200% more effective than if you don't rub a lotion on your elbows or something. So, it's just much quicker. And as far as, what our customers are telling us, we get emails and messages and reviews every day and it's a lot of people that have medical needs that are saying that they stop taking their prescriptions. Not that I'm saying, let's go do that. But they just, say it's helping them out. It's helping them with their pain. It's helping them with a lot of things out there. Me and Brandon really haven't had a bad review. It's all just been good things every day, which we thought was kinda odd. We were expecting, you know, the way the internet is, everybody to be knocking it, but it's just nothing but positivity and people just saying thank you for having a product like this out there. So it's definitely a motivating factor for us.
Kannaboomers (07:11): Sure. Absolutely. Last summer we heard a lot of negative stuff about vaping and obviously there were a lot of people went to vaping as an alternative to smoking, but it turned out that it might be just as dangerous. So here you are with an alternative that lets people have that experience of lighting up. But like you said, not getting sort of planetary and getting a shot of medicine, right?
Brandon Marhal (07:32): Yeah, we made this specifically a hundred milligrams per cig, or 150 milligrams per cig. We made it that high for a reason. That's an actual medical dose. You know, people take a five milligram oil drop or something under their tongue, you need about six milligrams of CBD per 10 pounds of body fat. So, if you're only taking 10 mgs every time you're doing something, they're lying about what's in the oils. You're smoking other CBD cig that's only got 10 milligrams in it. You're not really, if you're 15 pounds, it'll work for you. But it's not gonna work for a full grown adult. So that's why we get the a hundred milligrams per stick.
Kannaboomers (08:16): So do people typically smoke a full stick at a shot, do you think or are some people doing a half or that's a pretty nice dose of CBD to be getting?
Austin Battles (08:27): Yeah a lot of people do smoke it all the way. But I know also people that, just smoke half and then, save the rest for later, which is the nice thing about the cigarette cause it's easier to put out and it's easier to relight up as opposed to like a joint or something, where it's kind of like the paper is so thin, it kind of messes up towards halfway through. But it's kind of however you're feeling. Let's see if it hits you and you're like Manish, but this down and go for it.
Kannaboomers (08:56): I interviewed a guy from Tweedle farms and they sent me a cone shaped one and I tried it the last couple nights. And yeah, the whole thing is like kind of a big stick to smoke at one setting. But I definitely noticed some relaxation and you know, I'm not stoned, which is fine too. It's a nice way to test it and try it out. I was impressed with it. How about the advantages of smoking over vaping? When you think about vaping, people don't understand that some of the oils that are in vape products go that in your lungs aren't really made to process oil, right. People are getting lipid pneumonia and stuff. People have been smoking for a long time. We know that with tobacco there's a risk of cancer. Can you talk about hemp and smoking hemp? What would be the advantages or disadvantages of that?
Brandon Marhal (09:41): Yeah, so I guess if you compare it to vaping there's all types of different cartridges out there. Most of them are safe, but some do have cheap metal coils that can contaminate the the liquid and things like that. Plus you have to have the additives, the coconut oil, the MCT on top of diluting the CBD isolate or just to live with that with our products is full spectrum because it's harmful. So it doesn't have to go through processing. It doesn't have to get various different things removed in order to turn it into an isolate or this split, it's just you're getting the full kind of effect. When you smoke it and with the paper and cannabis in general it doesn't coat your lungs the same way that tobacco doesThe cilia in your lungs will actually get activated. So it clears all the byproducts of smoking from your lungs when you smoke cannabis. It's a really safe way to consume it. Vaping's also pretty safe. But personally I prefer to smoke the hemp cigarettes.
Kannaboomers (10:51): As opposed to dry vaping the flower.
Brandon Marhal (10:53): Yeah. Dry vaping isn't really too much of my thing either. It's kind of like a preference.
Kannaboomers (11:01): I notice you guys do sell the flower as well, right?
Austin Battles (11:05): We do a lot of our customers have their own equipment. Like they have their own bong, their own pipe. So they like to you it up with their grinder and just kind of smoke it out of their pipe.
Kannaboomers (11:18): When you're making joints or do you call them pre-rolls or joints or cigarettes, what do you, how do you refer to them?
Brandon Marhal (11:24): We call them Vance's. We can't really technically market it as cigarette. It's not really a joint, so we call them Vances. We've got the term trademarked and that's just kinda how we refer to them over here.
Kannaboomers (11:38): Yeah, that's a good marketing decision too. I think it's like Kleenex or Xerox if you can kind of own it. Yeah, that's a good position to be in. So that's great. Maybe we could shift gears and talk for the entrepreneurs in the audience. The fact that you guys started this literally in a garage as sort of a side hustle and now you're hiring people and running a factory. Can you talk about being a startup, and I know there's a lot of red tape around cannabis. Is it true of the hemp business as well?
Austin Battles (12:06): Yes there's definitely a lot of red tape around this. And there's also kind of a lot of various different obstacles you're going to run into like the the banking issues, credit card processing issues. It's a high risk industry to be a startup. So I, There are a lot of entrepreneurs out there. If you want to get into the industry make sure you have adequate savings. Make sure you have kind of a plan and just kind of do it.
Kannaboomers (12:36): The fact that you guys have succeeded, obviously you hit the right part of this market at the right time. We all know there's so much CBD out there and I tell people, you know, be careful about buying at gas station. You want to see if there's a certificate of analysis. You want to make sure you have a nice clean product, right? You know, the FDA isn't there yet. Are there other licensing things that you had to do to bring this product to market?
Brandon Marhal (13:00): There isn't too much licensing. You do have to get a hemp industrial hemp prosecutor license in your States. You do have to get industrial hemp, you know, grower license if you want to grow your own stuff. Some States don't allow hemp flower to be sold. So if you're gonna start a company, just make sure your state actually allows it to be sold. And that's the main kind of special licensing that we had to have that we had to get.
Kannaboomers (13:28): And you've found an untapped market. How big do you think this is? So what's your sense of how big Vance could become?
Brandon Marhal (13:36): We've been really exercising the idea and kind of letting people know that this is, you know, an alternative to cigarettes and vaping. Which as of today it's a $30 billion a week industry, cigarettes and vaping. I mean, that's, if we can have something like that even just 1% of that, I see it being quite large. The only downfall to some of the things right now is that there's so many people now trying to jump into it that don't use quality product and they don't use, a quality kind of business model. You know, the more saturated the CBD markets become, the less power that people truly have and the easier it is for larger corporations to come in and basically take control. So I think if you are going to jump into the CBD market now, whatever you're making, is it better than everything else that's out there already that exists?
Kannaboomers (14:30): Is there something different that you're doing that people aren't doing?
Brandon Marhal (14:34): You know, don't just brew up an oil in your bathtub and put it in a jar and be like, yeah, I'm going to go sell this to people. I think we just got to keep kind of pushing the envelope and keep kinda making quality out there. Unfortunately we don't see a whole lot of quality in the CBD market. And you know, my biggest concern is that somebody tries another CBD cigarette that isn't quality and then now for the rest of their life they think CBD cigarettes suck, you know, and they're not given one going to be willing to give a higher quality brand a try. So, you know, I would just say make quality, keep it going
Kannaboomers (15:08): Right. The barriers to entry weren't that high for you guys. You were able to stand up as an enterprise and put a product out there, which is great, but you know, there's a lot of innovation to be done yet. There's topical patches, there's people who are going to be doing CBD nose sprays and stuff. I guess some of that might require corporate resources and capital, but the fact that you guys were essentially, it sounds like you bootstrapped it pretty much.
Austin Battles (15:33): Yeah, we really did. It was actually interesting. We thought of doing patches before the cigarettes even. And so I was just kind of unreal. Just mentioned topical patches. I do. I think, I do think that that's going to be a large market coming, you know, as far as a bootstrapping thing. And that'll be the next thing that I could see being started out of a garage that blows up as well.
Kannaboomers (15:57): Yeah, a lot of advantages to those. So you don't have to think about it. You just put in on.
Kannaboomers (16:01): Yeah. Our biggest drawback is some people just don't like to smoke in general. And then with the vapes, making things easier for indoor smoking, you don't even have to tell your boss that you're hitting the CBD pen or something.
Kannaboomers (16:14): Were either of you guys a smokers before?
Brandon Marhal (16:16): Yeah, we both smoked cigarettes and then so we were kind of making it like for ourselves in the beginning and then we actually quit cigarettes using our product here. And that was kind of like a big aha moment for us because we didn't think it was going to work. There's so many things in cigarettes that make it so you're addicted like almost the second or third one you smoke. And then with CBD it lets you down easy. So, but it did work. It got us off of cigarettes. Yeah, we were smokers. I smoked for about two years.
Austin Battles (16:52): Yes, I smoked for a couple of years. I used to work, factory jobs through temporary work and like everyone smokes. So I was smoking American Spirits for a couple of years. I mean, , they tasted good, but I knew what eventually happens. It eventually causes lung cancer and other types of issues. So yeah, I had to quit and this was kind of a way for me to do that.
Kannaboomers (17:17): That's fantastic. I mean, like you said, we all know that smoking is a bad habit, but it's still there and a lot of people take it up and then struggle to overcome it. But that's the harm reduction aspect of this. Right. I mean, you're substituting something that's really good for you, for something that's really bad for you. Right.
Austin Battles (17:36): I'm not addicted to the Vance's per se, you know. I know that's like a typical thing that an addict would say, but I'm really not. I can go a couple of weeks without smoking one or anything and it doesn't have that kind of chemical dependency that I would say nicotine does. You know, kind of like we mentioned earlier or I think you did how the juul came out and it was made for people to get off smoking cigarettes. It was supposed to be a healthy alternative just for them to find out. It's five times more addicting and now you're giving yourself pneumonia instead of lung cancer. Uand then with this it was just like, you know, you smoke it and then you realize that it kind of gives you a better effect than nicotine does. So you keep smoking it instead of nicotine and then you realize that you can go without it pretty easily. It really does work. It does everything that the vape said they were going to do back in the day.
Kannaboomers (18:30): Yeah. There's sort of a crossover aspect to it. If you're smoking a real cannabis joint, a lot of times you're doing it with other people and you're passing it around and there's a ritual to it, right? You're cleaning your weed and you're rolling it up and lighting it and there's, you've done it many times and there's something comforting about that. And that's true of cigarettes too. I mean I think there's a chemical addiction, but there's also a psychological addiction of this is how I relax, I light up. So if you can do that in a way that is not delivering tar and nicotine into your lungs, but delivering some CBD, that's a nice place to be.
Brandon Marhal (19:07): Yeah. Yeah, 100% and some people like drinking, some people like burn and stuff in front of their face. So yeah, I'm all about it.
Kannaboomers (19:15): Do you guys pay attention to, I'm sure you do, some of the minor cannabinoids that are getting some exposure now. People are talking about CBG and CBN. And do you see room for that in your product?
Brandon Marhal (19:28): Yeah, we definitely do. We've both tried the CBG and the CBN before and they are very, very similar to CBD. I've dabbled in it. I don't know if we would jump into it. I just don't know if it's for me. A company aspect and on a personal use aspect, we don't see a benefit as of right now. But If we get enough requests for it, we definitely will consider jumping into it. CBG and CBN, they're both much more expensive right now than CBD. Part of our kind of company practice is to make quality product that's at a cheap price so that people can afford to use it. You know, we have medical needs and with CBG probably being about, maybe four times more expensive. There's just not a whole lot of grow operations that are going on in the United States in comparison to CBD.
Kannaboomers (20:23): As time goes on and more farmers are growing it. Maybe there are some who specialize in CBN I think, which helps you sleep. So possibly there's a formulation that people would after dinner before bed, smoke a CBN cigarette.
Austin Battles (20:37): Yeah, we could have a nighttime and a daytime kind of cigarette thing going on. Yeah, that'd be cool.
Kannaboomers (20:43): So what excites you most about this business and where you guys are at right now?
Austin Battles (20:47): I would just say, you know, the continuous growth, the fact that we're seeing this industry, it's really like the people's industry right now. It's owned by businesses and local people that, we all know and we're all just kind of being able to see everybody around us just kind of come up and grow with us and you know, doing things that we didn't think was possible a year or two years ago. I like seeing that. I like seeing the local businesses come up and doing really well and also knowing that people are getting actual benefits off of these things and it's everybody's always known, that cannabis was going to come in , have been stuff like that was good for us and we've all kind of wanted it and now we're kind of, they're letting us have a little taste of it.
Kannaboomers (21:32): So I'm really just pleased with the community that's developed through it and the fact that people are really positive and receptive to it and me and Brandon are best friends and we're able to work together every day. You know, we don't have to work in factories or work in an office for somebody else anymore. It's really just us doing this quality thing and getting a good response to it. It's, it really is exciting. I'd like to see what we do in a few years. We have a couple products lined up to be released this year that are very new, unique, and not been done before. So we've got a lot of things turning and I'm excited as all hell to be honest.
Kannaboomers (22:12): It sounds like a great place to be. I mean, a very gratifying business to be in when, as you say, you can have a positive impact on people and you're part of a growing community and your bringing about a positive social change, which is a lot of fun. Yeah. Not everybody is lucky enough to have that kind of job, so congratulations. Just circle back around. We didn't really mention the percentage. CBD goes through a testing process, right? Where there's a, like a certificate of analysis and it's gotta be below 0.3% THC.
Brandon Marhal (22:42): Yeah, that's correct. With hemp flower, it was going to be the CBD. There's going to be, the CBD is going to be the THC. There's going to be the Delta nine THC and with the 2020 FDA or USDA guidelines, a total THC must be below 0.3% in order for it to be considered illegal products. So when we source we have to make sure that total THC is less than 0.3.
Kannaboomers (23:11): And then are you working with like organic farmers or working with organic farmers? That's correct. So you can tell your customers this is an organic product.
Austin Battles (23:21): Yeah, we have the organic certificates as well in case anyone asks for them.
Kannaboomers (23:26): Well that's another great feature of the product. So where can we find you online?
Kannaboomers (23:31): Yeah, you can find us at vance-global.com.
Kannaboomers (23:43): Are you guys on Twitter and Instagram? Facebook?
Austin Battles (23:46): Yeah, we're on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and, Pinterest as well. The best way to connect with us would probably be on Instagram, but you can message us on Facebook too if you want to talk to us on there.
Kannaboomers (23:59): Okay. And to be clear, your product is in retail stores as well.
Austin Battles (24:03): Yeah, we're in about 12,000 retail locations across the country.
Kannaboomers (24:07): Holy cow. That's, that's huge. Are you mostly in the Midwest or all over the country?
Austin Battles (24:12): We are a little bit all over. We're highly concentrated in the North, the Midwest, the South, the Southeast and the East coast.
Kannaboomers (24:22): That's great. Your product is out there all over the place, so hopefully our listeners can find you on the shelf and find you online.
Brandon Marhal (24:29): Yeah. And if they need help finding us, they could send us the email and if they just send us their address. We could find the closest store to them.
Kannaboomers (24:38): Is there anything we haven't covered that you guys would like to say? I would say we covered about everything. Are you in a legal state where you're at right now? I'm in California.
Brandon Marhal (24:46): Yeah. Cannabis is legal out here. That is awesome. Yeah, I guess you could see us breaking into that market here pretty soon as well. So I would say just everybody keep their eyes open for it and that's all I can add.
Kannaboomers (25:00): Interesting. That sounds like an announcement almost. Yeah, that's a little bit of a release, but yeah, we, we've got a product that we're working on in the cannabis industry that's unique and you know, it's not being done. We'll release it. I would say look around maybe six, seven months and we should have something.
Kannaboomers (25:18): We might have to get you back on the show. It sounds like some kind of category breaking products, so I'm excited.
Austin Battles (25:23): Yeah, this is this is the first place we leaked it. So you're, you're hearing it first.
Kannaboomers (25:27): Oh, we got a scoop. Thank you guys. Well, let's put a bookmark on that and try to, maybe we'll reconnect in six or seven months and help you launch this thing.
Kannaboomers (25:34): Sounds good. You've been listening to, the Kannaboomers podcast with Thomas J for more on medicinal cannabis for baby boomers. Visit us at Kannaboomers dot com.