It was late 2017, and Joe Salome had worked tirelessly with his childhood friend to build Halcyon Organics, the South’s first medical cannabis company.
Over five years, they turned the business into a nationally known brand that served thousands of customers and soared to more than $2 million in revenue. Yet the cofounders soon parted ways, and Salome was ready to chart his own path forward. He was dedicated not only to starting a new company that would offer high-quality hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) products, but also to continuing his efforts to change the perception of cannabis and work with the state legislature to promote the legalization of medical cannabis and CBD.
Today, the long-time Buckhead resident is cofounder and managing partner of The Georgia Hemp Company, a retailer that offers a wide range of hemp and CBD lifestyle products, from edibles and skin care items to CBD for pets. He also is at the helm of Sympleaf Wellness, a burgeoning brand that produces and distributes natural CBD products, including oils, aromatherapy, creams and more. With one brick and mortar store in Sandy Springs and more slated to open in the near future, as well as myriad products available online and in locations throughout Buckhead, Salome has become the area’s go-to authority for everything CBD.
How did you become involved with the CBD industry?
I was familiar with the recreational use of weed, but I really dove down into the industry when my mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She’s a nurse, and she knew what to expect from the chemo option. So she researched to make sure that she would dose herself with cannabis correctly to recover from the chemo. My mom got through because of the cannabis. She was able to eat more and deal with the pain. I really got involved in the industry as I looked at what was happening with laws being changed out west. I wanted to help the patients of Georgia get the medicine they needed. That’s where it started.
CBD has come to the forefront in recent years. Why is it such a hot topic right now?
We have a new generation of adults who are making up their own minds and seeing the good that CBD can do. It’s about wellness. CBD products have moved into the lifestyle realm [thanks to its supporting a healthy lifestyle that includes better sleep, anxiety, pain relief and more]. The industry is also moving forward as laws have changed. The 2018 Farm Bill allowed for the cultivation of all parts of the cannabis plant, with a max 0.3% THC [the main mind-altering compound in cannabis]. Basically, the hemp plant is now legal. And last year, a law passed that gave farmers the first opportunity to start growing hemp to extract CBD. So CBD is on the market and out there for distribution.
What are your goals for The Georgia Hemp Company?
We source the best lifestyle products from the best vendors. We do not have a medical cannabis license yet, but we have the resources we need when it’s time to move forward. We want people to see the good that this plant can do. We’re standing on the shoulders of the advocates who have been out there for 30 years. I want to do my part with the voice that I have. Someone has to not be scared to go out and talk about this in a professional way without the negative propaganda and show the impact this can have.
What is your favorite CBD product?
The CBD gum is great. It’s easy to use if you’re not sure how to get started. It makes it simple to get a dose. It goes right into your pocket, and it’s an easy integration into your lifestyle.
THE GEORGIA HEMP COMPANY
290 Hilderbrand Drive,
Sandy Springs 30328
PHOTO: Joann Vitelli
15 Minutes With columnist at Simply Buckhead. Freelance feature writer, children’s book author and President of Green Meadows Communications, LLC.