Lauren Lerch witnessed the unthinkable: She was at a Las Vegas music festival in 2017 when a gunman opened fire and killed 58 people. Lerch escaped physically unharmed, but the experience gave her PTSD. “I’d hear a car backfire and I’d hit the ground,” says the 37-year-old California mother of three. She struggled with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, but medications only made her gain weight and feel disoriented.
That’s when a friend mailed Lerch a CBD tincture. “After three weeks of taking the product, I woke up one day and I was like, God, I almost feel normal right now,” Lerch recalls.
As the symptoms of her anxiety began to fade, Lerch grew increasingly interested in CBD. The hemp-derived compound—CBD is shorthand for cannabidiol—is being used to treat sleeplessness, pain, depression, and a host of other common ailments (though the actual science on CBD’s effectiveness is still in early stages). Lerch wanted to help other people like her and found an opportunity to do so: She became a franchisee of one of the leading CBD retail franchises, Your CBD Store. “I didn’t get into it originally for the business opportunity,” she says. “It can be overwhelming walking into a shop and having so many options. I loved the fact that I could provide a personalized experience and connect with customers.”
Whether it’s to help others or to cash in on CBD’s surging popularity, many people are following Lerch’s path. Franchising in the space is growing rapidly, as the CBD industry as a whole is estimated to reach $20 billion in sales by 2024. The two largest stores, CBD American Shaman and Your CBD Store, both launched in 2018 and have grown to 319 and 550-plus units, respectively. (Your CBD Store started with a licensed distribution model but is converting its system to franchising.) Meanwhile, at least six new franchises launched in the past year.
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