Published: Mar 14, 2018, 5:00 am • Updated: Mar 14, 2018, 10:19 am
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Selling Americans on chai, a spiced black tea with roots in herbal medicine, was a heavy lift for Colorado entrepreneur John Simmons.
Nearly 25 years after the founder and former CEO of Boulder’s Third Street Chai introduced consumers to a largely unknown beverage, Simmons is putting his back into a new product push: He’s all-in on a cannabis extract hailed for its medicinal properties but facing a regulatory future yet to be determined.
Last week, Simmons and business partner Matt Oscamou, founder of San Jose, Calif.-based Frontier Snacks, unveiled Weller Snacks, a hemp extract-enhanced food brand, at Natural Products West Expo in Anaheim, Calif.
The duo are among an intrepid class of natural products pioneers determined to bring cannabis-derived extracts rich in non-psychoactive compounds and cannabinoids such as cannabidiol — known as CBD — to grocery store shelves.
Expo West, the industry’s largest trade show, served as the coming out party for CBD and brands like Weller Snacks.
The 20-plus hemp extract products that debuted there didn’t much resemble the marijuana-derived CBD oils and tinctures found in dispensaries elsewhere in California — or any of the seven other states with legal adult-use marijuana sales.
Instead, the CBD-infused products on display at Expo West included honeys, sparkling juices, flavored waters, and pet and horse botanicals. The hemp extracts used in these products are marketed much like turmeric, Omega-3s or garlic are — as health- and wellness-enhancing ingredients.
The hemp extract-enriched coconut bites developed by Simmons and Oscamou are designed for occasional consumption by adults for the purposes of making them feel “weller,” Simmons said. Each serving contains 5 milligrams of extract, sourced from an Oregon hemp farm run by Frederick