The Smiths Falls, Ont.-based cannabis producer will sell the products under the name “First & Free.” The line will be available in the 31 U.S. states where CBD products are legal for sale, according to the First & Free website.
“The site is in a testing phase to ensure the new platform is working properly,” Jordan Sinclair, Canopy Growth’s vice president of communication, told Yahoo Finance Canada in an emailed statement. “Early signs are positive and some orders have been successfully placed.”
The First & Free website does not prominently display Canopy Growth logos or branding. The Terms of Service states that the website is owned and operated by Canopy Growth, and it has servers located in Ontario. Canopy Growth’s ownership of the website was first reported by BNN Bloomberg on Tuesday.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-intoxicating cannabis compound widely-used to treat conditions ranging from Crohn’s disease in people, to anxiety in pets.
The passage of the U.S Farm Bill last year removed hemp from that country’s Schedule 1 controlled substances list. The legislation prompted an explosion of infused lotions, oils, gummy bears and other products.
Investors have anxiously awaited Canopy Growth’s first steps into the U.S. consumer market. The company has made a series of moves paving the way. It recently broke ground on a hemp industrial park in New York, near the headquarters of its American beer and wine stakeholder Constellation Brands (STZ). Earlier this year, the company acquired the right to buy U.S. multi-state cannabis operator Acreage Holdings (ACRG-U.CN)(ACRGF) for US$3.4 billion.
“I'd say our hemp operations are now completing. We have the contract manufacturers in place. We have actual manufacturing underway... We have probably around 100 people in the U.S. now and a lot of head office resources going towards that,” CEO Mark Zekulin told analysts on the company’s second-quarter earnings call on Nov. 14.
“Like all things cannabis, nothing is easy. The conversations with retailers aren't easy. The basics of setting up an online store are more challenging than selling a widget.”
Cannabis researchers BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research expect the U.S. market for CBD could surge above $20 billion by 2024, from the current $1.9 billion.
Canopy Growth’s official foray into the U.S. CBD consumer market comes on the heels of a new safety warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“The FDA has seen only limited data about CBD safety and these data point to real risks that need to be considered before taking CBD for any reason,” the agency stated on Nov. 25. “Some CBD products are being marketed with unproven medical claims and could be produced with unsafe manufacturing practices.”
The First & Free website states, “Adding First & Free softgels, oils or creams to your daily routine will help you reach a life full of movement, fully ready, fully free.”
The company’s disclaimer notes: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”
Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.