While so many U.S. states have legalized cannabis for medical and/or adult recreational uses—the plant itself has become a hot topic as well as a dividing, volatile political issue. But aside from the common knowledge of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive cannabinoid molecule that gets people high, more focus has been on cannabidiol (CBD), a molecule among more than 100 other cannabinoids found in the complex cannabis plant. 

CBD is non-psychoactive, and is used by a growing number of people around the world for health and wellness. The CBD molecule has been approved in the U.S. for treating symptoms such as pain, inflammation, anxiety and stress, and even side effects from chemotherapy.

“I find there are two main misconceptions people have about CBD,” said Vince Sanders, President and Founder of CBD American Shaman—one of the nation’s largest CBD retailers and producers. “They either relate it to cannabis in general and think it’s equivalent to THC; they don’t understand it’s not psychoactive and it’s about health and wellness. Or they tried some random CBD products at a gas station, got no effects, and assume it doesn’t work.” 

Formed in 2015 by Sanders, in Kansas City, Missouri, CBD American Shaman has risen to the top of the nation’s CBD suppliers and retailers, beginning at first with an online and wholesale model, eventually moving into full on brick and mortar stores, now available in more than 30 states.

For Sanders, a self employed entrepreneur his whole life, he is grateful to be working with CBD, and the cannabis industry, something he never thought he would end up being a part of. He tells DOPE that his interest in CBD began in 2012. “I had an uncle I was close to, who was dying of stage 4 lung cancer, and I just wanted to help him,” Sanders said. “I was researching online, and found some really solid research about cannabis and dug into it deep, but at the time, I only knew of marijuana to help with symptoms of chemotherapy like nausea. There was a lot of good information and research about CBD coming out of England, Israel and Spain, which was promising, so I started making a crude concoction out of all the hemp we have here in the midwest, since we have a lot of access to ditch weed. I made black sludge CBD oil, with alcohol separating the plant material, and we saw some amazing results with that extract on my uncle. It was a very crude form of cbd oil because it was trial and error and I was just guessing at the time. I had zero plans of it being a business.” 

Admittedly, Sanders has a past with cannabis, which he openly revealed, and has spoken about publicly to other media outlets, like NPR. “I’m a convicted felon; almost 20 years ago I was a ‘marijuana smuggler,’ and I did some time for that. But, my past has no connection whatsoever to what we’re doing at CBD American Shaman,” he said. 

Sanders admits however that with his past, he is astonished at how the cannabis industry has grown and changed. “I would have never bet my life that I’d be working in the cannabis industry as I am now legally,” he said. “It’s been such a strange trip. I wake up everyday with gratitude. I am lucky to have ended up on this journey.”

Although CBD products are legal in all 50 states, this wasn’t always the case, and Sanders is proud to have a role in how the legal landscape has changed drastically in the past few years. “I was one of six companies that founded the Hemp Round Table,” he said. “As a group, we wrote the Hemp Farming Bill in 2017 and began lobbying in DC a lot around then and amazingly a handful of us got it down in 2018.” 

Sanders said he was pleasantly surprised at the passing of the historic legislation, signed into law by then President Donald Trump. “When it passed it was amazing, and when it was finally signed into law it gave us goosebumps; we pulled together and overturned over 80 years of cannabis prohibition. Personally, I don’t know if a higher mark could have been achieved,” Sanders said. 

“The extraction method we use creates a full resin from the plant, and we pull out all the cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes. We use the R134A method to extract our CBD. Rather than using a solvent like CO2, it’s a pharmaceutical grade refrigerant; the same thing that uses cold pressure to spray the medicine out of an inhaler. It’s FDA-approved and regarded as safe.”  – CBD American Shaman Founder Vince Sanders

Although CBD American Shaman is prospering, with its line of over 200 products, including everything from gummies, oils, to tinctures and body lotions and CBD for cats and dogs, things weren’t always smooth sailing. “No CBD company makes as many products as we do, but when we first started we faced some hurdles. “It was difficult back in 2015 and 2016 to convince people it was not marijuana,” He said. “We had to convince people that it was legal, and that it doesn’t get you high, which some people still believe. But, eventually we got a lot of repeat business and it grew fast.” 

American Shaman

Courtesy of CBD American Shaman

Sanders said that what sets apart CBD American Shaman is its use of ‘clean weed,’ and nanotechnology for CBD extraction, which they began implementing in 2016. “The extraction method we use creates a full resin from the plant, and we pull out all the cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes,” he said. “We use the R134A method to extract our CBD. Rather than using a solvent like CO2, it’s a pharmaceutical grade refrigerant; the same thing that uses cold pressure to spray the medicine out of an inhaler. It’s FDA-approved and regarded as safe.” Sanders said that this technology has  been used since the ‘80s for products such as food flavorings and supplements, such as rose petals and lavender. I’m a huge proponent of clean weed, and using no harsh chemical solvents in our CBD extraction. Not only is it safer, it’s more bio available and faster acting, we use it in all our products.”

Since forming seven years ago, CBD American Shaman has grown exponentially from an online CBD retailer and wholesale distributor, to now having more than 300 employees, and now more than 100 brick and mortar stores across the U.S. “In mid 2016 we tried out our own store in the midwest, and it worked really well, ” Sanders said. “At that time, we also started licensing out our products for other people to sell and it became a full franchise operation. By 2018, it skyrocketed. 

In 2019 however, like most retail outlets, the company faced challenges due to the Covid lockdown. “Like most businesses, we struggled during the pandemic at our stores, especially in certain states, and it was due to the fact that people weren’t getting out and shopping unless the business was deemed essential by the government,” he said. “This was odd to me, because in some states like California, legal cannabis was considered an essential business. So, we lost some stores during that time, but not enough to damage the company, and now we have 48 corporate stores. During that time we relied heavily on our online sales, which we still do a sizable amount, but we’re mainly a brick and mortar store based business.”

With the majority of its focus on CBD, Sanders said that the company is diversifying, by branching out into the THC market as well, in states where it is legal. “In Oklahoma we grow manufacture and dispense, in Missouri we have a manufacturing license and are aggressively looking into other states as well. Aside from pure CBD, we deal with isomers, your delta-8s and CCC’s, because they are amazing products as well.” 

American Shaman

Courtesy of CBD American Shaman/ Shaman Smokes.

Sanders said a pivotal portion of his company is dedicated to researching the many different known cannabinoids. “The research is important in trying to find different combinations of cannabinoids that work, and figuring out how they can all be used for treating different symptoms and ailments,” he said. “As for the long term, What I see coming in this field is eventually, a mucosal nasal swab that would test an individuals’ endocannabinoid system. From this, we could custom blend something which would be specific to that individual’s needs. That is where the science is headed to get people into homeostasis in their endocannabinoid system using unique blends of various cannabinoids.”

While Sanders sees the many positives of CBD, and the other cannabinoids in cannabis, he is also well aware of some negatives associated with the plant, but believes the positives greatly outnumber any potential harmful effects for some. “In terms of negative impacts of cannabis the more anything is concentrated the more negative effects will come to light,” he said. “But, this is how it is with anything, as things get stronger, this is bound to happen. I feel that the closer you stick to nature the better off you’ll be.

Sanders mentioned as an example, cannabis THC levels now are off the charts compared to how they were years ago, and in nature they are often much lower than strains that are bred specifically for a higher THC content, and this he asserted could cause problems for some users.

“If you dab a concentrate that is 90% THC all day long, realistically you will see some people who have problems with that,” he said. “For people with prior mental health issues it’s probably not a good idea to use these high potent THC concentrates, but still I feel that people need to be cautious and not reactionary.” 

Sanders said that people need to understand the importance of balance when discussing any negative effects of cannabis. “I’m not debating whether young people with developing brains could be negatively impacted by chronic marjuana use, there is plenty of science to show that,” he said.

Sanders continued, “But let’s all be adults here. It’s the same with alcohol and young people; my point is this is not a perfect world, where everything is black and white, there are always gray areas. The more legal it is the more control you have over it, to try and keep it out of the hands of those it could harm. Of course there is some negativity but also tremendous amounts of good, and in my opinion the good outweighs the bad when it comes to cannabis, it doesn’t mean there isn’t any bad, but you have to look at it in perspective.”

Although certain people could be harmed by cannabis use, or abuse, this doesn’t mean it’s bad for everyone, and Sanders said there is still tons more research needed, and people need to be educated. “Research and education are the biggest things lacking in this industry, it’s the government’s fault for blocking this and being one sided, with so many years of reefer

madness type propaganda,” he said. “Everyone should know the negatives and the positives and make their own informed decisions, like with anything else in life.” people can be harmed from doing 90% THC dabs all day…the same as people can be harmed from drinking whisky all day. 

With this sentiment in mind, Sanders said he has no question cannabis will be legalized in all 50 states in the near future. “It’s been said that you can’t stop an idea whose time has come, and the time for this has come,” he said. “70% of people want an end to cannabis prohibition, and that speaks volumes because in today’s political climate you can’t get people to agree on anything I don’t think Biden will be the one due to his age but I’m confident that after this president, eventually we will see marijuana legalized at the Federal level. People need to realize that the negatives are far outnumbered by the positives.”

The CBD and cannabis industry in general is only going to increase, according to Sanders. “When it comes to things like CBD, eventually it will be like any supplements or daily vitamins people already use, because CBD is all about wellness and health,” he said. “ I am proud that CBD American Shaman is leading this movement from the frontline; we will always try to raise the bar whenever we can to provide the highest quality, safest CBD products on the market.”




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