East Dubuque CBD company sees promising start

Joe Loeffelholz makes CBD bath bombs at River Bluff Collective. The business in East Dubuque, Ill., creates products based on cannabidiol, such as bath bombs and lotions. The company sells its products throughout the United States. PHOTO CREDIT: JESSICA REILLY

EAST DUBUQUE, Ill. — For DJ and Joe Loeffelholz, the future is looking green in more ways than one.

Their newly founded company, River Bluff Collective, quickly has started earning dollars, selling their products in 30 retail stores and shipping to customers throughout the United States. And on top of that, the main ingredient for their products, cannabidiol, a compound found in the leafy green plant cannabis, is growing in popularity every year.

It was a market the two brothers saw nothing but potential for six years ago, and they are planning to bring the benefits of CBD and more cannabis-based products to East Dubuque and the tri-state area.

“This is important to us,” DJ said. “We use these products ourselves, and we want everyone to know how much they can help people. A big part of our job is reducing the stigma that comes with CBD.”

They officially started River Bluff last year, opening a website that sells a variety of CBD products, including lotions, tinctures and bath bombs. The products are made in East Dubuque using cannabis grown from local hemp farmers. Joe said the company puts emphasis on providing the highest quality product possible, while remaining competitive in price.

“That’s the juggling act that we are doing,” he said. “We are still working on perfecting the product, but we still want it to be viable for people to buy.”

While the company didn’t officially get its start until 2019, the brothers have planned its creation for the past six years. The idea to create and sell CBD products stemmed primarily from DJ, who, after being discharged from the military, was prescribed cannabis products that helped him return to a normal life.

At the same time, Joe was living in Colorado, seeing firsthand the cannabis industry take off there.

“I would go and visit Joe, and we would learn everything we could about CBD,” DJ said. “We saw that there was a big market there, and that the potential for this was huge.”

Along with providing their products, Joe and DJ said a primary goal is to eliminate the stigma surrounding CBD and cannabis-based products that exists in the community. The company uses social media to educate people on the positive effects CBD products have had on many people’s lives.

DJ said he speaks with residents in the area to advocate for CBD, pointing to himself as one who has benefited from its regular use. He also professes the benefits cannabis can create for a local economy and has worked with elected officials to make East Dubuque more attractive for cannabis-based companies to potentially move there.

“We worked with the mayor, city council and zoning committee to implement policy to make the city more appealing to cannabis companies that want to come here,” DJ said. “If that were to happen, it would be amazing for East Dubuque.”

East Dubuque Mayor Kirk VanOstrand said he has shown continuous support for the local business and believes its potential is enormous.

“What they are doing is the real deal,” VanOstrand said. “He’s (DJ) told us all the things he wants to do, and, most importantly, he wants to keep it local.”

River Bluff’s owners hope to open up a retail location in East Dubuque. After that, they intend to secure an adult-use cannabis cultivation license from Illinois and build a cultivation center.

For now, the company is content with continuing to slowly grow their customer base and increase the quality of their products. Eventually, they argue, CBD will be normalized in society, and when that day comes, River Bluff Collective will be there to sell it.

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