Although legislation on the sale of marijuana, buds, seeds and derivatives can vary greatly by country, even states and regions, it is a booming business, which is gradually being allowed in many places.
So why not sell marijuana online if it is such a good business and it is legal?
Let’s go step by step, first, reviewing what is legal and what is not…
Marijuana and its by-products
To understand everything related to marijuana legislation, it is necessary to know that this plant basically contains 2 active ingredients: THC and CBD.
- THC is the active ingredient that produces psychoactive or recreational effects.
- CBD or cannabidiol is, on the contrary, an active ingredient that only produces muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory effects, and is widely used medicinally in different treatments.
When selling marijuana derivatives, whether leaves, seeds, buds, etc., it is important to know the percentage of THC and CBD, as we will see below, because the legislation varies greatly depending on the amount of these active ingredients.
Legislation on the sale of marijuana and its derivatives
The legislation is so varied that you will have to inform yourself about the legislation in your place of residence/billing. For example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) eliminated CBD as a controlled substance in the USA years ago, so initially, it is legal to sell CBD derivatives in the USA, but anyway I recommend that you ask the public health department of your state of residence.
As far as the WHO (World Health Organization) is concerned, it establishes in its recommendations that cannabis products with a percentage lower than 0.2% of THC should not have any kind of special treatment, as they are not considered psychoactive or addictive.
On the other hand, in the European Union, the legislation applicable to the planting, cultivation and distribution of marijuana is, initially, regulated by the regulations on the cultivation and sale of hemp and derivatives, including marijuana.
However, there is a limitation, once again, and that is that the final product derived must not contain more than 0.2% THC.
Why has CBD become so popular?
The apparently beneficial health effects of CBD have been known for a long time, not years, not even centuries, as it is known that ancient civilizations used this component to treat a multitude of ailments and diseases.
To this we must add that for decades it has been recommended by many doctors as:
- anti-nausea and antiemetic
- heroin, cocaine and alcohol appetite reducer
And it is often recommended as a support for the treatment of different diseases:
- neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis)
- chemical dependencies
- autism spectrum disorder
- chronic inflammatory diseases such as chronic polyarthritis, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease,
- chemotherapy accompaniment
- antitumor treatment
It is even recommended as a dietary supplement.
This has led to the commercialization of CBD-derived products in a multitude of formats, such as …
- CBD Oils
- Body care products
- CBD products for oral care
- CBD for facial cosmetics
- Aromatic CBD flower buds for home, car and even car air fresheners
Can marijuana products be sold over the Internet?
As I said before, legislation can vary a lot depending on the country or even states and regions of the same country so, as it is impossible for me to make a detailed study of each country and area, I will focus on what is allowed or not in most of the countries of the European Union.
To avoid repeating myself, you can currently sell marijuana derivatives with a majority CBD composition and containing no more than 0.2% THC.
As a general rule, you should obtain authorization from the organization that reviews this type of product in your country, but this is also diffuse, as you can distribute products of a brand or company that ALREADY has the authorization.
Now, my advice is that before you get down to it you should contact lawyers specialized in the commercialization of cannabinoids, CBD and marijuana derivatives in general, so you don’t screw up and end up with your bones in jail.
If I have to give you a simple answer I would say that yes, you can sell in Europe, CBD products derived from marijuana as long as their THC content does not exceed 0.2% and their purpose is not for human consumption. In fact, you only have to do a search to discover that there are lots of online stores that sell CBD in multiple forms and formats.
In addition, you must differentiate what type of marijuana and CBD derivatives you are going to sell, as it is not the same to sell seeds, buds, oils for aesthetic or aromatic use, or even food.
Finally, if you are simply going to distribute, precisely because of the legislative complexity, currently most online CBD stores claim that the sale of marijuana derivatives is only for collecting seeds, buds, etc. or for cosmetic use, where the concept of consumption or medicinal use does not enter, and only refer to the requirements of maximum possession (100 grams) and amount of THC (0.2%), leaving everything in a situation of assumed legality.
Don’t do this if you are going to sell CBD online
It’s still safer to make a quick list of things to avoid if you want to sell marijuana or CBD online:
- Don’t start selling CBD without getting legal advice first.
- Don’t sell marijuana derivatives with more than 0.3% THC.
- Do not allude to the health benefits of CBD.
- Do not use an unreliable producer or distributor.
- Do not use service or technology providers that do not allow the sale of CBD.
What do I need to sell seeds, buds and CBD online?
Are you sure? Let’s start …
Without going into whether you are a producer or just a distributor, from this point on we are only going to look at the technical solutions and services you need to sell CBD and its by-products online:
- Hosting that allows you to sell CBD and derivatives.
- Ecommerce platform that allows you to sell CBD and derivatives.
- Payment platforms that allow the sale of CBD and derivatives.
- Banks that support payments from the chosen payment platforms.
- Transport and courier companies that allow the shipment of CBD and derivatives.
- Specific plugins for CBD online stores.
- Advertising platforms that allow advertising CBD and derivatives.
- SEO for CBD.
As you will see, it is not as simple as setting up an online store and start selling, as if it were for any other product.
Hosting to sell CBD
My first advice is to not even try with US companies because although the FDA allows the sale of CBD there are certain restrictions, such as alluding to therapeutic properties(which shouldn’t be done), for example, which can get your online store shut down overnight for a dubious or misinterpreted phrase.
In addition, there are some US states where the sale of CBD is not allowed, which further complicates matters:
- New Hampshire
- South Dakota
One example is the “depends” of companies like Kinsta and others, which honestly do not encourage starting an online business with such uncertainties. For me personally, they make me hesitate and I wouldn’t risk it.
WordPress.com, unlike their direct competitor Shopify, does not allow CBD marketing on their hosting platform. In fact, you can’t use any Automattic products or services like Jetpack, WooCommerce Payments, or WooCommerce Shipping to sell CBD.
You should also avoid small hosting companies or resellers, as they will not have enough legal muscle to deal with this kind of changing legislation, in the first case, or depend on the decisions of the actual server owner, in the second.
The safest thing to do is to go for companies in the EU or Canada, where the legislation is at least clear regarding the sale and distribution of CBD.
If you do searches you will find lots of hosting providers that advertise themselves as specific for CBD companies, run away from them! They are aware of the problem, they are resellers (the vast majority) that advertise themselves as CBD hosting or similar, almost all with expensive and unjustified prices and without clear information about their – supposed – specialization or advantages.
The best thing to do is to contact your trusted hosting company, which offers all the features that your online store should have, regardless of what you sell, and ask them with full transparency if they have any restrictions for the sale of CBD or derivatives.
Your hosting company must, in addition to allowing you to sell CBD, comply with PCI standards, offer SSL certificates (free if possible), guarantee the security of transactions and have an active policy of protection and updates.
Which platform to choose to sell CBD
From the previous point I think you should have something clear, but let’s summarize it in a simple list:
- WordPress.com does not allow you to sell CBD.
- Shopify does allow selling CBD.
- Wix only allows you to sell CBD in the US, except in states where it is not allowed.
- You can use WordPress (.org), Prestashop and Magento, being open-source platforms, to sell CBD or whatever.
- You can use the open-source WooCommerce plugin to sell CBD.
Payment platforms that allow selling CBD
The main problem you are going to encounter when selling CBD is with the payment platforms, as the main ones, the ones that are most widely accepted, do not allow you to sell CBD.
Neither Stripe nor PayPal allow the use of their payment gateways to sell CBD, so you will have to use another one that does, for example:
- Square – Similar to Stripe, supports card payments and the fees are pretty much the same.
- Viva Wallet – Very complete platform as well, with integration with WooCommerce.
- Bizum – You can also use this digital wallet for CBD product payments.
- Bank transfer – If your bank allows it, you can use this payment gateway, you have to keep checking the deposits in your account but it is there.
- Cash on delivery – Of course, you can accept cash on delivery for your CBD sales, as long as it is cash or a card that allows CBD payment.
- Payment platforms for high-risk businesses – You will also find some specific payment gateways for this type of online business, qualified as high-risk. They usually apply high fees and offer little or no guarantees in case of problems.
- Cryptocurrencies – Of course, you can use all kinds of digital currencies, such as Bitcoin and others, to receive online payments for CBD products and others.
Banks that support payments from the chosen payment platform(s)
An additional step, after selecting the payment gateways, is to check with your bank that they support transfers from these gateways, and in the currency in which they make the transactions so that you do not get the displeasure of having your money blocked on the payment gateway platform.
Transportation companies that allow shipment of CBD
If the sale of your CBD products is allowed in your country, no transport company should prevent you from distributing them to your customers. In any case, always ask beforehand, with total transparency, specifying if the CBD products you sell are qualified as medicinal, food, or simply decorative or collectible.
I know companies that have admitted to me that they have never asked about this matter to the transport companies and have not had any problem, but my advice is that you go with the truth ahead, to avoid future surprises.
Plugins for CBD stores
You don’t really need anything special when it comes to plugins for an online store selling CBD and derivatives. The basics would be this:
- WooCommerce – The base platform for selling online.
- Age verification – Because the sale of CBD is forbidden to minors, and you must show in your online store that requirement in a very visible way.
- Payment gateway plugins – Once you have determined the payment gateways to use, you must install and configure the plugins that connect with each of them.
- A good security plugin, to reinforce the protection measures of the hosting.
- A good plugin to help you comply with the RGPD and cookies legislation.
From there you can install any plugin you need for your online store, to customize the shopping experience, facilitate loyalty or whatever you consider, as in any other Ecommerce.
Advertise and promote CBD
This is another stumbling block that you will encounter when selling CBD, and that is that the main advertising platforms, especially those in the USA, do not allow you to advertise CBD products or derivatives.
So forget about using Google AdWords to promote your products. But also rule out creating direct ads on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter because these social networks, despite what the WHO and other legislations say, consider marijuana in all its forms, including CBD, as drugs.
You will have to look for other alternative solutions to promote CBD, for example:
- Non-US advertising platforms.
- Email marketing, again avoiding US mailers.
- Profiles and own publications in social networks, mainly informative or educational, avoiding that they look like ads.
- Affiliate marketing.
- Influencer marketing, getting profiles with a large audience to talk about you or your products.
SEO for CBD
At this point, and given the limitations of doing SEM for the sale of CBD, marijuana or derivatives, the solution is to do a good SEO of content.
Of course, with the help of your favorite SEO plugin, the strategy to follow for SEO of CBD products would be as follows:
- Focus on a specialist niche within the sale of CBD in which you can stand out (cbd oils for pets, cbd for menstrual pain, etc.).
- Strengthen your local SEO strategy oriented to CBD sales, relying on Google instant searches (cbd in NameofCity, etc.).
- Create good meta titles and description tags that stand out in search engine results.
- Work intensively on internal linking.
- Develop a strategy of publications in social networks that attract traffic to your website selling CBD.
- Create SEO-perfect product pages that contain structured data to generate rich snippets.