Running a CBD marketplace isn’t easy, but it’s important work. On this episode, James Lazos, founder of Element Earth CBD joins the show to share the story of the CBD company he founded in Monroe, New York.
Boasting an impressive online store with products personally vetted by James and his closest family and friends, this is an example of CBD sales done the right way. Listen in as James breaks down some of the keys to separating quality CBD products from snake oil.
Insights From The Episode
- The story behind Element Earth CBD, and what spurred James to start it.
- Why face-to-face discussions with customers can be so powerful when selling CBD.
- Why James makes sure either he or his friends and family test every product that is sold by Element Earth CBD.
- What James would say to someone who is “on the fence” about trying CBD to get them to take the plunge.
- Why the potency of any given CBD product is critical, and how customers can be easily mislead.
- What’s next for Element Earth CBD, and what James sees in the future of the CBD industry as a whole.
Resources & Links From The Episode
- Beginner’s Guide to CBD – Healthline.
- Cannabigerol – Wikipedia.
- Legal History of Cannabis in the United States – Wikipedia.
Connect With The Guest
About Element Earth CBD
“At Element Earth CBD, we aim to provide only the most trusted, most effective, CBD and hemp products. We have a test team, and every product that we have listed has been checked and vetted for effectiveness. Free shipping and local delivery. We strongly believe in natural medicine from the earth, not a laboratory.”
Scott: Hey, everyone. What’s going on? Scott here with you, and welcome to another episode of the “CBD Guide Podcast.” We got another great one on tap for you today. I’m excited because I think this is one of the biggest marketplaces we’re going to be kind of talking about that we’ve talked about thus far.
My guest is James Lazos, who is the founder of Element Earth CBD. It’s elementearthcbd.com. It’s a CBD marketplace which is based in Monroe, New York. And their online store is impressive, with lots and lots of products, and so I’m curious to learn a bit more about that story. James, welcome to the show.
James: Hey, Scott.
Scott: Thank you for being here.
James: Thank you for having me here. Thank you.
Scott: And I always like to start with, I guess, a big question of how you discovered CBD. I just find, thus far in all the episodes we’ve done, really interesting stories. So, James, what’s your story? How did you first discover CBD and realize, hey, there’s a lot of benefits here?
James: Okay. Well, yeah, I see a lot of other people’s stories that they fell into it, and, you know, everybody falls into it differently. I’ve been in e-commerce for 20 years. So, retail sites, Amazon, eBay, you know, you name it, you know, a couple of million dollars a year in sales. So it’s, like, been big, big e-commerce things, but I never had a company of my own.
But anyway, long story short, I went to work at a corporate place that has I think over, like, 50 retail spots, and they were selling CBD there. Now, I knew about CBD since 2012, but I didn’t see it this close. It was, you know, they had flower for that… I’d never seen any of it that looked like, you know, marijuana. I couldn’t believe, you know, they were selling it at the stores. And, you know, the farm bill was passed, I guess.
So, obviously, I was interested in it. It’s not what I was there for. I was there to build a site for something that had nothing to do with CBD. So, I just, basically, while I was doing what I was doing, I was watching the CBDs, you know, the whole par of the sales of it, you know, if it’s working, what’s going on. And I started seeing, like, positive stuff, and then I started reading about, you know, more and more about it.
And I’m like, you know something, this is, it’s natural. I mean, it’s something that, you know, it helps people. And even I put it, I just said, you know, if I could do something online like everybody’s been telling me for 20 years, I would like to sell CBD. I would like to get this, you know, hemp out there, and started it up, my own e-commerce business that way. And, you know, with that in mind, that’s pretty much how I fell into it. You know.
Scott: Yeah. Basically, you put two and two together. You were like, hey, there’s a lot going on with this CBD stuff. It’s really interesting. And it sounds like, you know, you had this sort of e-commerce background anyway, so it was just a natural fit, right?
James: Exactly. So I was like, you know what? I was like, I could open up a storefront and not know what I’m doing. So I started online and then slowly but surely, as I was learning, I mean, it was more and more products were coming out. A whole community of us were finding out more and more about how certain things were done, process. You start to find out more of it.
Yeah, it was just interesting because it has to do with e-commerce too, so it’s both, you know, it helps me when it comes to learning new things, and it helps even on the e-commerce side, when it comes to learning new things.
James: And I know them both now, so I figure too, like you said, it’s a good combination. But that’s how it started. Afterward…
Scott: Is it just an e-commerce site, or do you also have a storefront?
James: We are going to have a storefront next month. It’s supposed to be a little strip mall down in main street Monroe.
Scott: Oh, nice.
James: They’re supposedly taking a building and they’re renovating the inside. They’re only gonna be very small, but you know, like 150 square feet. It’s very boutique-y. So, they contacted me and they wanted to have me in there, and I said, you know, that’s great because I love…
The other thing with online is that there really is no human element. That is the one thing about online that I don’t like. I don’t love it, but when there’s an issue or a customer has a question, I love being able to reach out, speak to them, and talk and see what’s what. And it was like that all, with everything else e-commerce-wise. It was just, I like interacting.
So I hope this store goes up because I would love to be there, and I’d love to see people, too. It’s interesting to actually sit there and speak with somebody about, you know, any issue that they may be having, and how CBD might benefit. So it’s, you know, you could say only so much you can online, and with people, I’ve gone, you know, saying, “Is he being real, or are they just saying this?”
Scott: Yeah. And I think that’s a good point. And I think that yes, online is so powerful. You can reach so many people, and especially, you know, with COVID and things like that, being able to kind of not have that in-person thing, there’s a benefit to that. But, at the same time, I think CBD is so individual, in the sense of how, you know, one product might affect you, might be different than how it’ll affect or help me. And you can kind of start those conversations I think in an organic way when you have that face-to-face interaction of, okay, well, what are you looking for? What are you trying to do?
Scott: And I think kind of, with that in mind, I’m curious, James, your site has a lot of different products. What are some of the most popular ones, and what do your customers tend to say about them? What’s really maybe your bread and butter when you’re looking at your entire suite of products that you have?
James: Well, honestly, I have a feel. My mother, she has IBS and some other issues. My brother was in Iraq, so he’s got post-traumatic stress disorder. And I know a few other people. So, when I first started, I was giving out samples. When I first started with the company, you know, not myself, the Element Earth didn’t exist yet. They were giving me samples and, you know, whatever. I didn’t know what to do with them so I was giving them out. I gave one to my mom. And then I started seeing it working.
So I have pretty much a test group of people that we test on before we sell it. That was one thing I noticed because not everyone’s the same and there isn’t one one-for-all product that’s gonna be the solution. My mother, for example, product A worked better than product B by X amount, and the next time around product A isn’t as good as B. And I’ll take, you know, I get, I see what’s what. They’ll send me samples.
So I think they’re all great sellers, honestly. I mean, CBDistillery, everybody’s heard of. Myriam’s Hope is a great one. They’re all hand-selected. And when I say hand-selected, I mean that. Like, they’ve all been tried out and given the thumbs up or down. And that is the only way I’ll allow them to let us sell it because I want to try to give the most effective product to the customer without them frowning afterward and assuming that CBD just doesn’t work for them or anything. I want them to have the most effective.
Scott: So, no product even lands on your site if you haven’t evaluated it, or have, you know, someone you know to try it out and let you know, like, “Oh yeah, I liked this,” or “Oh, this really didn’t do it for me.”
James: Yeah. It’s gotta pass the tests. I call it, like, you know, it’s like the five family, the five-member test, but it’s true. It’s like more people want to test that, you know, that’s fine. That’s how you really get to know what really is what. People could tell you anything.
And, you know, I probably had maybe one person or two people, I think one, say the product didn’t do anything. And then when I spoke to them, I said you should eat it around dinner, because CBD sticks better to the, you know, fat and stuff like that. He calls me the next day and he said, that works. He’s like, the gummies are much better after I eat. And I’m like, you sure? I don’t know if it’s a placebo effect or what, but he was like, “No, thank you. We’ve been buying them.”
So it’s like the products have all been tested. They’ve all been given the thumbs up. I’ve gotten a lot of samples from a lot of different companies that I can name. Obviously, I’m not going to, but they’re just not there. Everyone’s, like, kinda…
And if somebody says it’s not really effective and I don’t really see anything in it, then it’s just not worth it for me, and it’s just not worth it for the customer. Because like I said, it’s not a personal thing anymore, so if somebody comes on the site, they could be taking a shot in the dark, or they know the product that works for them. And, you know, they call me or they educate the consumer, but I love them both.
We like speaking to both people, both sorts of, you know, sides of the aisles. It’s like either you know or you don’t know and you want to learn more. We would love to speak to you about it.
Scott: Absolutely. So, you mentioned…sorry, just jumping in.
James: No, go ahead.
Scott: So you mentioned, like, gummies, because there’s just so many different types of products, and I’m curious, like, you guys have gummies. Do you have topicals as well, and tinctures as well?
James: Yeah. Tinctures, topicals, capsules, flower we have.
Scott: Flower as well.
James: Flower sells. Flower, as you know, probably, I’m assuming you know, it’s vaping and smoking seems to be the most effective way to, you know, ingest CBD, or any of the other cannabinoids.
So it’s really a good thing. I feel like I have the whole gambit available to the customer, where if they want to go with this vaping way, we have, the CBD vape we carry is top shelf. And that’s it. I just, I don’t want to carry stuff that’s questionable or anything like that. I want somebody to come here and see that everything really is hand-picked.
Scott: Sure. So all the products are handpicked, and you said you have a vape as well, that people can purchase?
James: Yeah. Secret Nature is the brand. They’re expensive. They’re not cheap, but it’s not exactly… I wouldn’t even call it expensive, actually, but, you know, there’s a lot of misinformation out there, and I feel like I don’t want to start selling stuff that’s not quality, or even worth it. I don’t want to give the customer a bad experience, either way, I want to give them the best experience.
Scott: You mentioned that misinformation, and I think that’s a really good point. I think I’ve been fortunate in that all the folks I’ve had on this show are just so knowledgeable, like yourself, and they’re really dedicated to their craft. And I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t run into anything where I’m like, ooh, I don’t know about this person.
James: Good, good.
Scott: But in terms of that misinformation, what do you find maybe is some of the, I guess, biggest misconceptions around CBD, or, like, maybe when you do talk to a customer, you get this question often, when it’s like, “Oh man, they’re getting bad information. I gotta set them straight.”
James: Mm-hmm. Oh, yeah. Well, the biggest misconception is the milligrams. A lot of people think the more milligrams, the more effective it’s going to be. Now, that is true in some cases, not in all cases. You can have, you know, a 3000-milligram tincture versus, you know, 500 or 1,000-milligram tincture, but processed and extracted, like, in a different way.
Scott: Yeah. So, basically, now, I find that interesting, the idea that the higher milligrams don’t necessarily equal more effectiveness in all cases. Can you say a little bit more about that, because that’s kind of mind-blowing?
James: Right. Because there’s a misconception about the products on Amazon are hemp-extracted. You know, the hemp seed oil. It’s not CBD. So, they say, say, you know, sell 10,000-milligram bottles. Now, when you’ve stepped over into the CBD world, it’s about 1,000 milligrams is the average milligram. But when, you know, certain companies have 10,000-milligram tinctures, and 5,000-milligram, with real CBD, not the Amazon tinctures. And sometimes, people think that that’s just more effective, where really, it’s not. It’s how it’s made, it’s how it’s processed. And that’s what’s important is how it’s made.
And what I was trying to get into with the vapes, for example, there’s 700 milligrams for $40. Now, some people say that that’s too much, that it should be $20 for half, you know, 700 milligrams, or half a milligram.
So that’s, the biggest misconception I’m finding out there is just is the milligrams and the percentage of CBD seems to move people more towards it being a better product, where it’s not. You really have to look into it to understand it’s the way that it’s made is what counts.
So that right there is one of the biggest misconceptions is the more, the better. It’s not like that at all. It’s what works for your body the best. So it’s a little frustrating getting into that, because people want to argue with you and they don’t…but, you know, people that learn, they understand it.
Scott: Yeah, no, I think that’s incredible. And I can see, too, you know, a lot of folks who listen to our show, maybe they’re newer to just the world of CBD, and you would think that, oh, well, it’s logically more, higher milligrams equals automatically better. And I think that maybe there are some folks out there, and we’re not naming names or anything, who might want to take advantage of that when really, there’s so much more that goes into it. So, James, I appreciate you making that point, and really kind of kicking the door open on that. I’m curious…
James: Yeah. That’s how it’s made. I mean, it really is. I mean, now, to the average consumer, like I said, it’s about 1,000 milligrams. They tend to know that the people new into it, they’re most likely to be, like, you know, misinformed.
Scott: Sure. I’m curious, James, you know, we’re talking about people who would purchase these products and things like that. Especially if there’s someone who’s newer to it, let’s say they’re on the fence or they’re unsure, maybe they’re even skeptical. They’re like, “I don’t know about that CBD. I don’t know it’ll help me or not.” What might you say, if you could talk with them, or maybe if they were landing on your site and they were overwhelmed and they’re like, “Oh man, I don’t know. I don’t know if any of this will help.” What might you say to them to encourage them to take the plunge?
James: Well, one thing is that, you know, all they really have to do is read about it and look into it. I mean, at some point, number two is that we’re forgetting, you know, in 1938 hemp was the third most prescribed medication in the U.S.
So we are in a state of amnesia. We don’t remember these things. Or maybe two generations ago, they do. But it’s, you know, the repeal of this prohibition is finally starting to, like, if you could see that it was the third most-prescribed medication, you could see that it was effective.
So, all I say is give it a plunge. It’s natural, it’s not going to harm you, and the worst-case scenario is that it does not work and that’s it. And it’s not like some sort of operation you have to get or anything like this. So, people that are ever on the fence of it, yeah, I understand, because a lot of companies tie it to, it’s marijuana. It still has that old, you know, that look to it, that it’s got something to do with weed or something.
Scott: Right, right. Getting people high or whatever. Yeah, exactly.
James: Right. Yeah, that’s a popular misconception is the whole THC thing. It’s the, “Am I going to get high?” People really, they still ask, and I gotta keep reminding myself I’m in the business so that’s why I know what I know. People who are new, were once where I was, and after studying into it and looking into it further, you start to understand more.
So, people are becoming more and more educated. I am seeing more and more educated consumers and people just, you know, buying stuff, taking it, and it’s not that it doesn’t work and they just say, yeah, that stuff never worked. So like I said, I tell people just give it a shot. I mean, the worst thing that can happen it’s that it, maybe it won’t work.
Scott: Because it’s a “dud” or something for you, but then maybe a different product might help you, right?
James: Right. Right. Well, yeah. It’s well, yeah, well, you know, there’s different cannabinoids, and obviously, they’re for sale now, and people are like, what is, you know, CBG. Not G, but the guy with the, as in Gary. I mean, they’re just learning about CBD, and now all of a sudden, CBG pops out. So, it is fun educating people just on the fact the hemp plant offers so much more than just CBD.
Scott: Speaking of that, and certainly the hemp plant, and then, you know, because you have so many products, and we’ve talked about this before on the show, but I do think it’s worth always kind of maybe reminding people that, you know, you have broad-spectrum CBD, you have full-spectrum CBD, then you also have CBD isolate, which is only CBD. And I know some folks say that that’s not necessarily as effective. What do you find across your products? Are they mostly full spectrum or broad-spectrum, or does it kind of run the gamut? And what do you tend to find, I guess, works best?
James: Okay, that’s a good question. It’s about half and half between the broad spectrum and the full spectrum isolate, that would be Medterra. We try to stick to about 10 to 12 brands if you noticed. We’re not gonna offer 200 brands and be like, “select one.” We’re trying to narrow it down for you a little bit.
Scott: Right. It’s a little overwhelming if it’s like, okay, there’s 200 options here.
James: Yeah. I mean, if there’s, like, you know, like, we have 200 brands, I don’t want to go down that route like I was saying before. But the full-spectrum to broad-spectrum is about half to half, and the people that buy broad-spectrum, they, from what I hear and what they comment, is that it just works for them. I don’t really hear anymore that, “Oh, there’s THC in there.”
And isolate is still popular. I’m finding amongst, like, athletics, athletic people, and people that are just dead-set against THC, or they can’t digest THC, and it might just work better for them, but there are fewer than there were ever before.
As you see with a lot of brands, like, Medterra used to strictly sell isolate CBD, and it’s excellent isolate CBD. It’s excellent. But they’ve branched into broad-spectrum because they know that we’re gonna find out it’s a little bit more effective for the average person than isolate CBD.
And, you know, it’s the same way, it goes the other way, too. Full-spectrum companies, some of them sell, you know, one broad-spectrum formula because they also, they don’t want to miss out on the people that just want it, they don’t want THC at all in there.
I see it mostly full-spectrum or broad-spectrum, and 1 out of 10 isolate, with just CBD only. And that seems to, if that works, you know, that’s great. If it doesn’t work, next time you step up to broad-spectrum or full-spectrum. But it’s something that people, you know, they gotta decide on. They gotta see if they want to go that route. And the only way I could help is by speaking to them.
So if nobody calls, or…It’s very difficult to tell somebody how they could take full-spectrum and not fail a drug test. If it’s true full-spectrum, less than 0.3% THC, they’re okay, but there are still people out there that are afraid. Now, with the repeal of marijuana prohibition in New York, nobody’s really afraid anymore. So I find that the whole THC thing was more of a legality thing, well, because it has a look to it that’s dirty.
So people would say, “Oh, THC,” and they, you know, sometimes they assimilate it with, you know, a dirty person. It’s just, you know what the industry has done to THC is sickening. What they’ve done to the…
Scott: This is such an important point you’re making, and it actually brings up a question I have, and I’m curious about your opinion, especially as we look to the future of CBD. If there is, as the ongoing legalization kind of movement across states and things like that, do you think that, you know, if the primary difference between full-spectrum CBD and broad-spectrum is this kind of typically, no THC, not even trace amounts in the broad spectrum, but you also were kind of mentioning that full versus broad can impact people different ways, and some people might actually prefer the effect and think it’s more effective for them on the broad-spectrum.
Do you think that maybe this change, if a lot of it is legally based, of, like, “I don’t want any THC, because I don’t want any chance to fail a drug test,” do you think that that could maybe cause broad-spectrum CBD to be just less out there, less popular overall, or do you think that there’s still a really, I guess good fit for broad-spectrum CBD?
James: I see full-spectrum going further like you were saying. I see, because of the repeal of the marijuana prohibition, they understand, or they may look at it less dirty now. So, when they’re looking at it not like before, if they’re saying, “Well, look, the state is legalizing it and it seems to help,” people are looking at it a little bit differently. And there are some people that just are dead-set against it. You know, they’ll just stay away from it. But I really, honestly, I see full-spectrum taking off. And more importantly, other cannabinoids like CBG, CBN. People are gonna start understanding the differences between them, and they’re gonna…
That’s where I see the future of it, just the whole full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, isolate thing, I see that kind of going away, and I see now it’s going to be between CBD, CBG, CBN, maybe another cannabinoid, but it’s all going to be full-spectrum. I see it being the most effective for the average person, so they’re going to probably stick with that. There are still gonna be people that don’t want THC in their product, so…
Scott: It’ll still be, like, a niche. Niche. I always forget. How do, however you say that word.
James: Niche. I know. I say niche. I call it that. There will always be a niche market, and that’s fine because maybe it works better for them. So it’s like whatever works for you is great, but full-spectrum is gonna, honestly, from what I hear and see and know, work better for the average person, in the average case.
Scott: For the average person.
James: Yeah. There’s some people that it’s not gonna work on. I mean, if you’re on medication, sometimes it negates the effect of CBD. So people don’t understand that part either, and they just maybe will write off CBD for… And I’ll give you a quick example. I was on Zoloft at one time, and then I started taking CBD as I was on Zoloft, and I didn’t really notice much of an effect. That’s why I gave out a lot of it to my mother, my brother, and other people, to see, is it just me?
And then I started lowering my dosage and increasing CBD dosages, and then I started feeling what they were feeling. So what I’m trying to say is that it’s interesting that, you know, people…I mean, not “interesting.” People need to know that the medications they’re currently on may affect their experience of CBD.
Scott: Right. Right. I think that’s a really important point, especially if someone’s like, “Oh, well, this didn’t work.” And then it’s like, “But I also take this cocktail of other medications.” It’s like, that might be interacting there.
James: Yeah, exactly. Like, they’re playing on your neurons there. Somebody with anxiety, if they’re on, you know, a ton of medication, CBD will help if you’re not on it. So it’s a great way to try, you know, helping you wean off of big pharma’s meds.
I’m totally off of Zoloft now, and I take CBD every day, and you know, it’s not like there’s a co-pay on CBD. That’s one of big pharma’s biggest things right there is there’s a copay, but you gotta take what they give you. So, there’s the trade-off there.
Scott: Absolutely. James, as we kind of, you know, sort of wind down this discussion here, because I don’t want to keep you too long, but what’s next for Element Earth CBD? You were talking about, you’ve got, like, a potential storefront that might be opening and things like that. Is there anything else exciting, or any projects that you can share, of course, that any folks listening might find to be interesting?
James: The store is a major thing. The other thing is, like I said before, we’re just branching out into different parts of the hemp plant, and try and get more of, you know, interaction with people is something that I find really important with something like this.
So, I don’t know how we’re gonna do it, but we’re gonna do something where, you know, you can consult easily with us. I understand that there is insurance and there’s stuff that you can and can’t say, which we don’t say, but we need more interaction.
Scott: Right. Having that kind of one-on-one or what have you, kind of interaction where you can also talk about this. I mean, gosh, this whole conversation you and I have been having, James, there are so many moving parts to the world of CBD. There’s so many different products, types of things, different parts of the hemp plant, what have you.
And I think you can’t always get the best result unless you have those conversations, unless you know, “Well, I am on this medication, this medication, and this medication, and I’m looking for something to help me with anxiety.” Like, “Okay, let’s start that conversation and go from there,” and it’s so individualized.
So, I love that that’s something that you’re kind of keeping in mind and trying to figure out, okay, how can we do this better at Element Earth CBD? I think that’s really important.
James: Absolutely. Absolutely. So, the solution, is the ultimate answer obviously, we’re looking for us, we want to speak to you, you know what I mean? Possibly. So that’s the next biggest project, and hopefully, like I said, just more human interaction.
Scott: I love it, I love it. James, thank you so much for joining me on the show today, sharing a bit of the Element Earth CBD story, and a lot of really great insights, and some things that I’m excited to go back and listen to this episode again myself, just because there’s some things there that you mentioned that I just hadn’t even thought about. So, thank you, James.
And before I let you go, if folks are listening, and let’s say they want to either go to Element Earth and CBD and see some of your products, or maybe they even want to connect, where should they go? How should they do that?
James: I encourage anybody, if you are interested, just email email@example.com, or just go to the site and click Contact Us. You’ll get a real answer and a real response. It’s not a battery. You’re not buying a flashlight. It’s something you’re paying to know. So, it’s something that is, if that’s one message I can get out is contact us. We won’t just try selling you on it.
If we don’t have what we think you need, we’ll point you in the right direction. I want to make it sound like it’s that simple, but everybody says that, so you have to say it with a grain of salt, I guess, but I want to say, I mean it.
Scott: Right, right. Well, there you go. You have heard it here. Thanks again, James, for joining us.
James: Not a problem, Scott. Thank you for having me, and take care. Thank you.