Miami University students to expand hemp-focused startup at local malls

Three Miami University students that recently opened a hemp and CBD oil store at the Dayton Mall are planning to expand their business in March.

Founder and CEO of new Dayton Mall store HempXClusive Michael Taylor, a 28-year-old commerce major and biology minor at Miami University, said he began realizing the benefits of hemp during his time studying traditional medicine in preparation to be a physician.

From using the plant to make paper products and replace crude oil, to extracting the CBD oil to help with chronic pain, inflammation , anxiety and depression,   sleep disorders, ADHD, epilepsy, and to   regulate blood pressure, Taylor said the benefits of the plant are transformational.

“Pharmaceuticals with all due respect have their place…but I absolutely believe that there are alternatives and less invasive ways to approach the human body, the human mind, before resorting to chemical compounds, pharmaceutical medications or even surgeries,” Taylor said.

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Taylor and two of his Miami classmates, chief marketing officer Josh Fishman and chief operations officer Joe McKinney, opened the first HempXclusive store at the Dayton Mall near H&M in November. It will open a second store at the Mall at Fairfield Commons March 1.

"Because most of our products are month supplies, as we get people coming back , we start to see they're bringing their friends and family and referring people because they really do wholeheartedly believe in this," said Fishman, a 20-year-old marketing major.

The store’s top seller is its dropper bottles that contain private label CBD oil suspended in coconut oil that is produced in Colorado. Other CBD infused products include a salve stick for aches and pains, capsules for various purposes including sleep aids and energy in the morning, energy drinks, gummies, vape juice, creams and products for pets.

CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, has had a surge in popularity over the last several years. Culturally, Taylor said people are starting to turn toward more organic and holistic health remedies, leading cannabis industry experts at the Brightfield Group to project the CBD industry to be worth $22 billion by 2022.

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Simon Property Group, which owns dozens of shopping centers across the nation, recently signed a deal with hemp retailer Green Growth Brands, which will open 108 CBD-infused product shops in the malls. Taylor said he hopes, and has already started talks, to form the same kind of relationship with Washington Prime Group, owners of the Dayton Mall and Mall at Fairfield Commons.

The store hopes to become a national corporation and eventually open its own industrial hemp farm, then expand into research and development of other products like biofuels, bioplastics and paper, Fishman said. Right now, the three partners do all the work, but they’ll start hiring soon for their second store location in Beavercreek.

Hemp was a major component in the recently-passed U.S. Farm Bill, which reclassified the plant for commercial uses and removing it from the Controlled Substances Act.

Taylor said there’s a lot of misinformation that hemp and marijuana are the same thing, but the two are different plants in the Cannabis family. Marijuana is abundant in tetrahydrocannabinol, but Hemp contains a very low concentration of less than 0.3 percent THC, the element that alters state of mind and gives a high, according to education website Ministry of Hemp. When its CBD is extracted, it’s less, Taylor said.

There has been some crack down on CBD shops in recent months, particularly in edibles.

“We’re not worried because the hemp CBD products that we have, they contain 0 percent THC, are completely legal on both a state and federal level,” Taylor said.


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