Editors’ Note: This is the transcript version of the podcast we published last Wednesday with Mike Donnelly. Please note that due to time and audio constraints, transcription may not be perfect. We encourage you to listen to the podcast, embedded below, if you need any clarification. We hope you enjoy!
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Rena Sherbill: Welcome again to the Cannabis Investing Podcast where we speak with C-level executives, scientists and law and sector experts to provide actionable investment insight and the context with which to understand the burgeoning cannabis industry. I’m your host, Rena Sherbill.
Hi again, everybody. Welcome back to the show. Hope everybody that was celebrating the long July 4th weekend enjoyed themselves, gave back if they wanted to, relaxed if they wanted to.
Today, we have Mike Donnelly on the show. Mike is a former Navy SEAL. He was in the military from the age of 17. He did a number of business ventures until he found himself in the CBD business. He co-founded The CBD Path with his wife Claudia. And the CBD Path is focused on giving back to the veteran community by giving back a portion of its profits.
He also – Mike also talks about the saturation of the CBD market, what it takes to survive and how they are differentiating themselves. But given the fact that we’re coming off the heels of July 4 Independence Day in America, I know it was also Independence Day in Canada recently as well; what it means to serve your country and what it means to be patriotic… I think these are especially salient questions all the time, but certainly, the times we are finding ourselves in now.
And Mike does a lot to inform us and educate us not only about CBD, but also about the relationship the cannabinoid family has with the military and what he has seen from that. We also get into a really interesting conversation I think about the fact that CBD is now legal, but cannabis is not yet federally legal. It has not been decriminalized in the States. What it means for active soldiers and whether or not they’re allowed to take it? I also mention the fact that Israel is in the process of perhaps they – I say in the interview that they’re one vote away, that they’re two votes away, but now they’re actually one vote away from passing certain decriminalization regulations for cannabis in Israel. But the fact that alcohol and the voting age is 18, the army service [too, but being able to take cannabis is 21]. So I find that to be really interesting in terms of what it means to be taking cannabinoids as a soldier, and what the military kind of thinks about it.
We also get into what the FDA thinks about it, and what he thinks there is room for improvement there. And just the importance of education in the CBD market, especially since the Farm Bill passed and CBD became a legal product on the market. There has been so much misinformation for consumers, but even for business owners, as Mike makes clear in this episode, so just salient to arm yourself with education and information as investors, as consumers, in all walks of life.
So really happy for you to listen to this conversation. Also, and as always, hope everybody is taking care of themselves physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and everyone is staying safe out there.
And before we begin, a brief disclaimer. Nothing on this podcast should be taken as investment advice of any sort. And in my model cannabis portfolio, I’m long Trulieve, Khiron, GrowGeneration, Curaleaf, Vireo Health and Isracann BioSciences. You can subscribe to us on Libsyn, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and Stitcher.
Mike, really great to have you on the Cannabis Investing Podcast. Thanks so much for joining us today.
Mike Donnelly: Thanks for having me, Rena. I appreciate it.
MD: Yes. It’s been a long road up into this point. I joined the military. Actually, it started with the military, because that’s where it really where it ends right now – where it’s going to end is, joined the military at early age of 17, became a SEAL – U.S. Navy SEAL, did that for 10 years and then got out and started working in the industry as far as construction industry. Get my feet wet.
Opening my first company back in 2005, 2006. Started my first construction company. Grew that very large, did well with that. And then took money from there and started invested into other avenues from a nutrition to gyms to the cannabis industry, where I invested money into start-up private companies like Kaletra and HIVE that were using cannabis to – for medical uses and medical studies.
From there, invested into a company called, Kaya, out of Jamaica, where we got the first legal license to grow and sell marijuana in Jamaica. And then from there, I’ve been thoroughly involved in raising money for nonprofit veteran organizations. I’m on the Board of the Navy SEAL Museum, where I get to travel around the United States and raise money for our causes.
And by doing that, I was always running into guys, veterans that were having issues. When they came back to the States, we’re trying to reassimilate. And the common denominator that I found with a lot of them is they were starting to use CBD, even though it wasn’t legal, so to speak, at the time. They were using CBD to combat some of their issues. So I started doing research. And in December of 2018, the government took it out – took CBD off the federal banned list.
So that gave me more of an opportunity to get involved and do research. And ultimately, I started a company called The CBD Path, which is a passion of mine right now to help veterans with a lot of issues that they’re going through to help people in general, but my focus is veterans, because I know they need our help. And that’s where I started to where I’m at now.
RS: Nice, nice. Talk to me before we get into the CBD Path and how you got started with that, talk to me for a second about the cannabis companies that you invested in. How did you choose which companies to invest in? Or did you have a connection and that’s how you got involved? Or were you look going for it?
MD: I had a connection – yes, I had a connection. One of my close friends is very well versed in the cannabis industry. There’s a lot of connections in the cannabis industry. So he would always come to me and say, “I have this deal. We’re looking at this company.” This is what they do in this industry, and this is what they’re trying to do in the industry.
And so like Kaletra was – they were using cannabis in host disease after post-surgery. Doing things like this, doing research in the cancer center to see where it can help the body and where it can help the human person. I found that interesting. So invested in that company. And then another company came along called the HIVE, where we put money into that. It’s also doing medical research.
So it was having a group of friends that were well versed in the industry. And then we all put money together to – for these companies and get the research done. And then they ended up going public in the Canadian stock market.
RS: Is there any kind of thing that you’ve learned that you would either caution or encourage people looking to – I hear from people a lot and a lot of people want to know how to get invested in the cannabis space, or they have opportunities to invest in the cannabis space. And they’re not sure exactly what the best way is, or what would you say is something that you’ve learned from those experiences?
MD: Well, finding the right group of people really, doing your research on who’s in the industry and what they’re doing in the industry and then making that connection. I mean, it’s very difficult as a lone, as a – as an outsider, trying to invest in companies at the right time and the right company, and it’s really finding the relationship with somebody that you trust or business or a company that you trust and then making a connection there, and then going that route and just really sticking with it.
RS: Yes. Yes, we hear that a lot like how important it is to – even if you’re just investing as an investor in a public company, how important management is and the people that work behind the company. So pivoting to the – you getting involved with CBD and you’ve seen veterans take it, were you seeing them take it for a whole host of reasons? Was it physical? Was it mental health? What were you seeing there?
MD: Well, I think, everything boils down to mental health if you want to know the truth. I think, your physical. I think if – how you feel physically, really boils down to your mental health as well. I think everything contributes to that. So I mean, it’s been amazing, some of the feedback that we’ve received from people that we don’t know and then people that we do know.
I have one of my close friends. His son got in a motorcycle accident, had his leg amputated. Went through multiple surgeries in the hospital for 40 some-odd days. Wasn’t sleeping, having a hard time. He – we gave him CBD while he was in the hospital. They didn’t want to tell the doctors. It was up to them how they wanted to do it. They heard about CBD. They wanted to give it to their son to give it a try. They didn’t tell the doctors about it.
They said the first night they gave it to him, he slept for seven hours, where he hadn’t slept prior, where he wasn’t sleeping through the night. And the first night they gave him CBD, he was able to sleep through the night. Stories that we get, these are stories I hear all the time. It just sends chills that this actually does do wonders for people and on different levels.
So I think everybody – I think everybody’s body is different. I think everybody receives it differently. But we’ve had a lot of people with great stories. I mean, I could go – I can go on and on with a few stories from another buddy of mine that got his foot amputated, was having a hard time with anxiety. He couldn’t sleep. He got on CBD, says it saved his life. It just – it took the anxiety away. It took the pain away. It’s not a wonder drug, but I do believe that it helps a lot of people in many different ways.
RS: Yes. Look, the cannabinoids, I mean, we’ve also heard a number of stories on the show itself of it helping immensely people in ways that nothing else had.
RS: So in terms of getting started with that, number one, I’m interested in terms of – I’ve also talked to a couple of people that have been in the armed forces in some capacity and then gotten into the cannabis field. Did you find resistance from, I mean, I know it’s – the CBD is now legal. So I guess, it’s different…
RS: …than the cannabis. But did you find any resistance from that community to this market?
MD: No, now it’s whoever wants to try it. And unfortunately – fortunately, unfortunately, the CBD market is saturated. But if – to me, it didn’t matter. I really believe that I needed to get this in front of veterans that don’t know about it. One of our biggest things for CBD Path is education. Education is huge. I don’t think there’s a lot of education on it right now, because it is so fresh. And only since December of 2018 it has become legal to sell and take, so to speak.
So there’s so much that’s not known and so much that people don’t know and it’s so confused with marijuana, where it’s not even it’s nothing like that. So – and I don’t get frazzled easy or pushed around easy. So now jumping right in for me was pretty simple, pretty easy.
Owning – I’ve owned several businesses and sold a few businesses. So I’ve been around a little bit. I think the American dream for me, the American dream is to own your own company and be your own boss and make your rules the way you want to make them. So jumping right into this CBD was a no-brainer. It was very interesting.
My wife is with me a lot, who is part of this company. And she travels with me on these – on the fundraisers. And she had met a lot of these guys and a lot of veterans and women that have been taking CBD and have heard the stories. She started doing a lot of research on it.
And then one night she just came in, she goes, “What, we can start a business. We could really get this out there and get in front of the people that need it.” And I mean, it honestly took two minutes, where we say, let’s do this. Let’s put this together. Let’s put a business behind it and get it out there. So for me not much pushback. I just – I saw something that made sense. And for me to team up with my wife and build this company is – has been a blessing.
RS: It’s interesting you guys are the second married couple that works together, that started a business together that I’ve talked to recently. And it’s nice to hear people do that and still get along and it’s funny that they’re so close together.
MD: It looks like, it’s funny you say that, Rena. So like I told you before, she is the brains and I’m just – I’m the brawn. That’s it. She’s got all the knowledge and I’m just the looks. But she really – my wife really puts 110% behind this company as well as I do with my relationships and the guys that I communicate with. But yes, it’s been fun.
RS: That’s awesome. And we all have to know our roles… that’s important for any successful partner to know our roles. Talk to me for a second – I mean, you spoke about the oversaturation of the CBD market. Something I liked about what you guys are doing that’s slightly different is, you’re veterans giving back to veterans in terms of your profits are going back into that community.
With – notwithstanding kind of the oversaturation and talking a bit about like the giving back aspect of your company, how else do you stand out in the market? Or are you differentiating yourself in the market?
MD: Well, so again, as you know, being a former Navy SEAL, veterans and nonprofit organizations are very important to me. I know there’s so many veterans out there that put their life on the line that did a lot for our country. And it means a lot for me, like big time to give back to the community. No one knows what they’ve done and what they’ve been through, it’s huge for me.
One of the avenues I wanted to help was veterans, because I believe they need this. There are – they do have a lot of issues of anxiety. There’s 20 million veterans and I think one out of every three has some sort of issue due to whatever they’ve been through. And whether it’s anxiety, insomnia, inflammation from their muscles or whatnot. I believe that they all need to take it in some aspect.
So one of our avenues was to get this out in front of the veterans. We put QR codes on our bottles so that you can scan your bottle and know where your hemp came from, from the time it grew in the field until it’s in your hand. So it was very important for us that we differentiate ourselves that we’re not just a mom-and-pop company that popped up and is trying to make a buck.
We want to – if you go to our website, we have a blog. We have so much education on our website. We have you take a quiz that’ll kind of narrow it down, because one of the things we’ve seen a lot is that, people don’t know what to take, how to take, when to take. So we try to make it as easy as possible and taking a quiz on what’s your expectation? What’s your issues? And then what you should be – what you should lean toward that would help you out the most.
I mean, we were getting involved before I told my father. After we started this up, I told my father we started this business. And he goes, “Oh, wow, I just bought two bottles of CBD.” I’m like really? What was the dosage? How many milligrams? I don’t know.
Well, how much you’ve taken? Well, I took one bottle and it didn’t do anything. So I stopped taking it. I was like, this is my dad, like it just – it’s incredible the thought process out there on CBD, the lack of knowledge. So important to us that we educate people, that’s one of our big things is just a lot of education, so.
RS: Have you already seen a change in kind of like the broader general public since you’ve been – since you started until now in terms of people’s education levels and what they’re looking for like their ability to talk about it? Is it more advanced than it was when you started out?
MD: Yes, it’s been interesting. So we officially launched in January of this year, the company and we’ve grown every month. And we’ve seen that people understand it more and more on why to take it, because a lot of people are talking about it and a lot of people are confident in what it’s doing for them.
So yes, we’ve seen the knowledge of CBD and what it – what effects it has, has increased, absolutely no question. And we see that in our company as well as we’ve grown exponentially month to month in our sales. So that’s been nice. To further that, one of the things that we’re pushing for is, what I want to do is, I want to start a 501(c)(3)for CBD Path.
So that, because I know there’s a lot of veterans out there that don’t take it because of the cost. It’s not the cheapest item on the market. And I know there’s people that don’t want to put the money or have the money to put into CBD, even though it may help them with whatever issues they may have.
We’re looking hopefully down the road to start a 501(c)(3), so that we can actually give this out to people that qualify that can afford it, because I’m thoroughly involved in fundraising throughout the year. I’ve got a lot of great friends that I’ve met along the way who want to – who are patriots and just want to give back in anyway they can.
So if I was able to start a 501(c)(3), I would raise money that in turn would allow me to buy product and give it away for free to veterans that qualify, that needed. There’s a lot of – you’ve heard or maybe you haven’t, but there’s on average 22 veteran suicides a day. And we believe, obviously, this is due to the mental stability and whether it’s – whether they’re hooked on pharmaceutical drugs, or just can’t get their thoughts correct.
We believe CBD – taking the right amount at the right times – could change everything for them. We wouldn’t have so many suicides. So I believe, again, if we can get this in front of the right person at the right time, whether they can afford it or not, I believe it’s going to change a lot of lives.
RS: Well, that’s great to hear, good for you. Given your experience, especially in the Navy SEALs and also your interaction with the community like thereafter. What is your take on what, I don’t know, what can be done for veterans more than is being done? Why isn’t – why do you think there isn’t more, I think, support and understanding given to that community?
MD: I start. So, we’ve – yes, so we’ve been in war for 20 years, right? So far, this last situation that we’ve put ourselves in, that’s a tough question. Yes. So, it’s a two-way street, both the veteran has to be willing and able to put the effort in when they transition out of the military to be the best person they can be and they’re also at the same time, I believe it’s getting better.
So I can talk about now. I can talk about what I know now. And in the past few years, I’ve seen a lot of organizations start-up to assist veterans. So there is a lot there now. You just have to know where to look and where to see it. And like the CBD Path, I’m trying to push it in front of people. So there may be situations where guys don’t know what’s out there available to them.
So maybe they don’t reach out to the right organizations to put them in the right positions when they transition out or when they’re in a situation. So the more we push to get things in front of their eyes that they know that there’s something out there to help them whether it’s with a career, whether it’s with their health or whatnot, I think, the better off we’ll be. So I know there’s a lot of things now that are out there for them. We just need to keep getting in front of them at all keep educating.
RS: Yes. And given Corona and kind of how much the issue of mental health is really at the forefront, and in my opinion, just as important as any discussion about COVID, it should be hand in hand with how many people are suffering from real mental issues right now – mental health issues, which as you said, leads to a whole host of other things. What have you guys seen in the CBD space since COVID has hit?
MD: Well, an increase in – honestly, an increase in our product sales.
MD: We understand that people sitting at home and possibly losing their jobs or losing their jobs have a lot of anxiety. We understand that the mental process that goes to their head and what they might deal with or what they’re going to deal with or what they are dealing with it is a big deal.
And thank goodness, the CBD came out when it did and became legal, because I know we’ve had several people start CBD during this COVID lockdown, and it has helped them just take the edge off to calm their thoughts, have a normal day without getting into anxiety and thoughts that just ruin your day.
So we’ve seen actually a big uptick in CBD sales due to the COVID-19 take peoples’ anxiety up. New York is one of our, amazingly enough, being in Miami and our concentrated marketing New York has been a huge area where we’ve sold a lot of CBD, which makes a lot of sense with everybody locked up in the concrete jungle. So yes, you can see where the COVID and the CBD is kind of linked together with people that understand how to use it and why to use it and help them out throughout the day.
RS: Right. So that’s been – it’s – I guess, we’ve been in a few months of some sort of version of lockdown anyway. Has it been consistent kind of growth since lockdown started?
MD: No question. Absolutely. Yes.
RS: Yes, I mean, I think, we’re hearing that from cannabis companies as well, just seeing kind of like sustained growth and people were worried would it be sustained? And I think, we’re seeing, yes, yes, it is, especially with what’s happening in the world. I think it’s a – it’s proving itself to be an essential item.
The other thing I wanted to talk to you about is kind of growing your company. What is your plan for the CBD Path? Like let’s say, I imagine COVID is putting some kind of wrinkle into your plans, but maybe it’s not, is it?
MD: Well, it’s funny. It slows it down to the fact that there’s companies out there that weren’t prepared, (but who was?) and don’t have the right infrastructure, like people to work and continue to move forward. So we’ve seen a low in companies that have employees prepared to keep moving forward with marketing and research and whatnot. So, we’ve seen that, that little bump in the road along the way, but it hasn’t slowed us down at all.
Yes, one of our biggest things right now is our partnerships, is making the right partnerships. Right now, we’re working with a couple of companies called Headstrong, who has brick-and-mortar locations that helps mental patients that are having issues, veterans that are having issues. We’ve been working with them, marketing with them. So, our partnerships right now is like one of the biggest things that we’re trying to put together on who we can work best with to get our message out.
RS: And where are you sourcing your CBD from?
MD: Our CBD comes out of Oregon.
RS: And is it just one place? Is it a host of farms? Is it one farm?
MD: No, it’s – right now, it’s one location. We get it from one farm out of Oregon right now.
RS: That’s pretty rare.
MD: …and we’ve kept.
RS: Sorry, go ahead.
MD: We – that’s okay. We’ve kept our products. So we’re not – I’m not – we don’t want to be the gimmick. We don’t want to be a gimmick and come, try – come to our website and record someone like smoking. Smoking is something I don’t condone inhaling this into your lungs. Personally, I don’t like that. I don’t think it’s the right way to intake CBD.
So it’s something that, that we don’t sell. I’m not into gimmicks of selling licorice that has CBD in it or along those lines. We’re pretty straightforward. I believe if you’re taking CBD, you’re taking it for a reason. And I’m hoping that, that you feel the best way to take it is direct oil under your tongue.
We do have gummy bears just for the – somebody that might have a sweet tooth and wants to take it as a snack throughout the day. And then we have topicals, we can rub it directly on an ailment that you might have, and we’ve gotten great feedback on the topicals. But yes, we’re not a company – I don’t want to be again a company to try to sell 100 products that I want to sell you the right product that you can take and it has the effect you need.
RS: Do you think that the food products that are sold are they by and large not as effective? Do you think because of how it’s ingested?
MD: Yes. I think the bioavailability of it is huge. There isn’t enough studies on it yet. So when the studies come out, and they can prove that by baking it in a cookie or put it in a drink and stuff like that, if there’s research out there and there’s proof that there’s a way to take it and it makes sense and it’s – your body can accept it, well, I’d be more than happy to put that out to the people that – our customers. But for now, knowing what we know, I believe the products that we’re putting out are the right products at the moment that will get you the best results.
RS: Yes. I’ve heard that from another head of a top CBD company that the food and the beverage that has not been worked out as much as it’s been touted and hyped. So interesting. The other thing I wanted to talk to you about is your pet CBD line. Talk to me a little bit about how that came about and what you’re looking to do there?
MD: So dogs in general receive CBD, because of their endocannabinoid system they receive it better than the average person. And it’s like a lot of the people that we’ve dealt with and what we’ve seen is dogs. When you – when they take CBD, it changes their mood, changes their attitude.
I work with dogs a lot, service dogs and guide dogs and whatnot. A lot of demonstrations I do. We do a lot of bite suit work on some around dogs quite often. I have my own dog, Rottweiler.
So we thought CBD for pets was big. We were – we do have a lot of partnerships with dog trainers, Canine Tactical, Baby Canine, there are a lot of these guys that, that swear by CBD for dogs that it just – it sets their mood. It brings them down from being just crazy running around circles to a nice average dog. So CBD for pets is really huge, especially for dogs. It’s – so it’s a really good seller for us as well, because you can see it work. It’s – obviously, the CBD does work for pets.
RS: That’s interesting. What is it about their system that reacts so much better even than humans?
MD: I mean, not being a doctor or a veterinarian, I think, they’re just – their sensory system and their endocannabinoid system is more sensitive than ours. It – I think, it receives the CBD components. It processes the CBD components better than our bodies do. So they get a quicker reaction, and maybe it’s because of their body composition is smaller. I’m not too sure.
RS: So what are your plans like going forward in terms of – are there any plans to go international? Are you focused on the States right now?
MD: I’m focused on the States right now. We still have a lot of work to do. We’re nowhere near where we need to be. So I need to keep my focus here in the United States. I need to keep making relationships. We just got – we were just in Forbes Magazine, which was a huge boost for us, mentioning our company and what we’re trying to do.
I still have – I’ve got miles to go before I sleep, before I try to go international. We have had requests for our product outside the United States. But with some of the laws in these other countries and some of the unknowns for us right now, it’s just better to stick with what we know, stick with what we’re good at right now. Move forward, grow it, and then we’ll see down the line. We’ll see where it goes.
RS: Okay, love a poetry reference, especially in discussing of business plans. What’s the plan in terms of, or how do you see the CBD market? Like the Farm Bill passed, and I think a lot of people were excited, and then as we’ve talked about, there’s – this oversaturation in the market, what do you see kind of going forward? Do you think there’s going to be a lot of players that are going to be out of the sector soon and it’s going to work itself out? Or how do you see the market changing if at all?
MD: Yes, no question. So this is business 101. So the CBD business isn’t changing the landscape of business. So this will be like most items that come to the market. You’ll have and everybody should get their feet wet, start a business that they believe in it. And if it’s a CBD business, get into it, put into it what you believe is what’s needed.
And then yes, so the people that put the max effort that have the right marketing, have the right partnerships, have the right story behind their company will continue to push it and hopefully thrive. There will be the mom-and-pops. There will be some of the – there’ll be some of the bigger companies and funny, I was just with somebody this Monday, right? I was just with somebody yesterday, the day before and I apologize.
RS: The days don’t matter anymore, don’t worry.
MD: Yes, it’s crazy. I did a fundraiser on Sunday for Operation grid winds, where we lost a bunch of SEALs over in Afghanistan and Iraq. So I did the Murph Challenge Sunday, so little – today is Tuesday, right? Okay, today is Tuesday. Wow. Okay, so yes.
So I was with somebody Sunday, a very large company that is in the nutrition space. They do very well for themselves, great product. They got into the CBD business. And they threw a bunch of money behind it, but I don’t know that in talking to them, there was so much unknown in the market and so much volatility that they decided to shut it down after, I think, like four or five months of promoting it and putting money behind it.
So you’re going to have those companies that don’t see a future in it. And then you’re going to have the companies that can put a good product together, put a good story behind it, and then just move it. So CBD is not going anywhere. And marijuana, as you know, is becoming – it’s becoming readily available and it’s becoming socially acceptable.
And here’s what’s interesting, too, is that I don’t smoke marijuana, not interested in smoking marijuana. It just doesn’t – it doesn’t do it for me. I’d like to be in control at all times and have my wits about me at all times. So even though I’m thoroughly invested in several companies that have to do with marijuana, I do not use it, it just – it’s just something that, that doesn’t interest me personally. I do use CBD.
So I do use CBD quite often, because I do have muscle fatigue after I work out a lot. So I enjoy the CBD to help me with my inflammation. But marijuana, so to speak, for me, I don’t – marijuana, I don’t take.
RS: Yes, but nice to hear you still believing in the power of the plant even in the parts that you don’t partake of.
MD: Yes, no question. Absolutely. I believe that, that marijuana has a lot of advantages for a lot of people. I believe it does great wonders for people, no question, and there’s a lot of uses for it.
RS: Yes. Do you worry at all about kind of the bigger corporations getting into the marketplace at all?
MD: No, if I did that I think that, that would be wrong of me. I believe if you can take a product and it’s a good product and you can build a company behind it, you can build it large. It’s more power to you who am I or anybody to say that anybody should be able to cap their process or their hard work? At what point do I stop working hard? Because I made it to some point and I shouldn’t be allowed to go any further.
So as long as I’m putting a good product out for the right reasons and helping people, that’s kind of a – that’s a touchy subject to say what, stop working so hard, because you’re doing well at what you’re doing. I mean, it’s probably a bunch of different ways to look at that, right?
RS: Right. Don’t get so successful, you might be taken over soon. Yes.
RS: Yes, I hear you. And I think also, it’s true. I mean, it’s hard to run a business if you’re always looking over your shoulder. I think, if you’re – we talk about this also a lot in terms of the businesses that are worth looking at or worth being a consumer of are the ones that believe in their product and aren’t really necessarily worried about the other things. But at the same time being responsible stewards of their own capital or shareholders if we’re talking about the public markets. But yes, I think, in general, it makes sense.
So what do you see kind of like in terms of – well, let me ask you this actually. CBD is a – being – it’s active soldiers are completely able to take that, right? There’s no issue there?
MD: No, they are not. The military – the active military has a space specific rule that they put in place a law that active military cannot take CBD products.
RS: Oh. So talk – what’s that all about?
MD: So I believe this scenario, I’m just talking off of my opinion. I believe this scenario became a lot of guys were testing positive for marijuana, and everybody was throwing it back on CBD that they started taking CBD. So I mean, it’s possible they got it from CBD, but they’d have to take a large amount of it to test positive. So I believe there was a lot of scenarios where active military were blamed on CBD. So then the military across the board said no more CBD for anybody. Yep.
RS: It’s interesting in Israel, where I’m based, this week they’re talking about well, a lot of things really, but in terms of the cannabis world, they’re talking about trying to legalize it recreationally and they’re two votes away from it [since this was recorded, they’re now 1 vote away], people think that it’s going to happen. But one of the things that I found interesting is in Israel, the voting law is 18, the drinking law is 18, but the cannabis law would be 21.
And speaking of active duty in cannabis, it’s just like, to me, it makes no sense that you can drink, but not take cannabis. I mean, to me, if that’s what you’re looking to prevent then you should be preventing alcohol as well. What do you think, that is something that is going to be with time understood as kind of like a draconian measure to take? Or do you think it’s going to not be until cannabis is legal at the federal level or more states, at least until that’s changed?
MD: Yes, great question, right. Great question. Yes, and I don’t know that you’ll ever have marijuana legal through military. I don’t know that the military will ever accept that. That’s a great question. So interesting. Yes.
RS: Do you think it’s because of kind of how they judge the psychoactive properties of it? It’s kind of like antiauthoritarian in their eyes? Is – or is that me thinking too differently? I don’t know.
MD: No, I mean, I bet you if we could go back 100 years alcohol in itself would probably – they would take a different stance on alcohol. I just think it’s just so rooted into our social background that alcohol just became a pass after that. Alcohol after it leaves your body at a certain time, you don’t know if you’ve drank alcohol. I mean, there’s probably so many aspects to it for me to get into. I wish I could just go on and on.
But I can tell you when I operated, I don’t know that guys… I can tell you that a guy’s had alcohol or drinking alcohol while I was operating. But I don’t know that if somebody was smoking marijuana, if I would know, whether I’m operating, if they were on it or not on and would it interfere with the thought process? So yes, I mean, that’s a whole other study in conversation.
RS: But that’s interesting. That’s an interesting point that you’re making, I think. I’ve never thought about that, that alcohol, you – it’s kind of immediate – you either smell it or it’s obvious in some way. But you’re right, it’s not necessarily obvious if somebody’s taking cannabis… interesting. Honestly, it’s the first logical argument I’ve heard for that being a rule.
RS: Interesting. Well, Mike, anything you want to say to listeners or advice you have to people kind of looking in the CBD market and being like, well, what am I supposed to buy or what am I supposed to be looking for? Do you have any advice for them?
MD: Yes, educate yourself. I mean, make sure that you know what your symptoms are. Make sure you understand if you do want to take it where you’re buying it from. It’s funny we get a lot of people that say they buy CBD off of Amazon. Amazon doesn’t sell CBD. They sell hemp oil, but they don’t sell CBD. So a lot of – there’s a lot of – that’s another interesting scenario, where a lot of people don’t know what they’re buying or where they’re buying it from or why they’re buying it from them.
So be careful of the locations that don’t sell you the right product. And so educate yourself on what you want. Educate yourself on where you’re buying it from, and make sure you’re buying the right product for the right reason and taking it at the right times and the right milligrams.
And there’s – it’s not rocket science. There’s not a lot to it, but you do need to understand it to make sure that it works for you, because there’s a lot of people that, that will buy CBD and not take it properly or at the right time to the right dosages and not get any effect out of it. When if they would have done some research and taken it at the right times and the right dosages, it could have done wonders for them.
So just education on it, just to find the right company, find the right product. We have a robust service side, where we answer questions nonstop. You’d be amazed at how many questions we get throughout the day, how many phone calls we get throughout the day, just asking simple questions on what to take, when to take and how to take. So make sure who you’re buying it from is also reliable and is approachable to answer your question. So – and if it’s a CBD Path, we appreciate it.
RS: Yes. It’s always something I like, especially in a CBD company, because it is a new product on the market. And I think because there are so many bad actors in the space, I think… I think it’s really important to kind of acknowledge what you are selling and highlight that and not hide behind it. And I think the companies that are highlighting it and that are public facing and that are servicing their customers, I think, well, those are really good things to look for.
MD: Right. That’s crazy. Yes, that’s a crazy concept that people actually think they’re buying it and they’re really not. I mean, it’s interesting. That tells you a lot.
RS: Yes. I think, there is so much misinformation in the sector, more than the cannabis sector, because I think it’s legal. But – so it opened the floodgates, but yes, there – there’s really – you really need to, as you said, arm yourself with education if you’re going to be a player or consumer in the market.
MD: Right. And we really need the government here in the United States. We really need our government, the FDA to really put some time and effort into the CBD industry and start putting out some really good information and rules and regulations, so that a lot of us know what direction we can and cannot go. There’s still so much gray, where the FDA is just not getting involved enough to put out guidelines.
Right now, it’s – a lot of people just saying, “well, I’m going to give this a shot. Maybe they’ll be upset. Maybe I’ll get in trouble. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll get my hand slapped, maybe I won’t.” So one of the big things we need right now is for our government to really be involved since they took it off the banned list to be involved and put – let us know our right and left limitations so that we can really put forth a good effort.
RS: Do you think it’s been kind of a clumsy roll out there? Or, how would you kind of – where would you say they need to improve aside from clarity? Like, do you think that they’ve been doing what they need to be doing in terms of educating themselves, for instance?
MD: Yes. The climate where the United States has been in the past few years, I don’t know how much time they’ve had to put into it or can put into it or what their labor force looks like. So I can’t speak on their behalf. But I know that there’s a lot of legislation out. There’s a lot of senators. And what are those other guys, lobbyists that are in their face. But I know that they haven’t done – they haven’t been on their timeline that they gave us originally to come out with some rules and regulations.
So I can’t say I’m not sitting in their office, I’m not sitting behind their desk. So I can’t really say where they’ve been what they’re doing. Is it getting held up by pharmacy – pharmaceutical companies? Who knows? All I can do is say, I’d like to keep pushing to get them to make a left and right limitation for us.
RS: Something we talk a lot about on the show and that we hear from, especially a lot of business founders is in the cannabis world via the plant itself or CBD or any of the cannabinoids, you really have to be able to pivot when you need to pivot like in a way that it doesn’t really exist in another sector, I think, the way it does in this field.
And even in the CBD field, which is legal, because it’s still figuring itself out. You really have to be able to be nimble and facile in the marketplace. So I think it kind of makes the business better. But it seems also kind of extremely frustrating and daunting to take on as a business founder owner?
MD: Yes, yes, you’ll know who is good at business. As you see the businesses shift left and right, who is staying on top of trends in the markets. But that’s like, it’s business one-on-one, right? That’s – that should be the status quo for most businesses.
RS: So do you have any kind of partnerships that you have coming up or has COVID put a lot of that on hold?
MD: We’re working on it. So we’re in conversations – phone conversations everyday with different organizations. There’s nothing major we’re putting together now just conversations for now. So yes, no major new – no new major partnerships coming up, but constant conversations everyday.
RS: And is the plan down the line to go into the public markets or no?
MD: I don’t think so. I don’t think I’ve built this company to take public if you want to know the truth. I built this company really to help veterans and be there for veterans for the most part as well as the regular civilian population. But I don’t think that I’ve designed this actually to take public.
RS: Gotcha. And in terms of your consumer makeup, is it evenly divided between kind of the civilian consumer and a veteran consumer?
MD: As at this point, I believe we’re about 50-50 between veterans and civilian. The word of mouth is, it’s gotten – our word of mouth has worked really well. We’ve had a lot of people call in just by recommendations from other people to civilians and everybody. So at this point, I believe we’re about 50-50 between veterans buying and civilians buying at this point.
RS: Well, word of mouth is always a great signifier of the kind of product that you’re putting out there.
MD: And I’d tell you again, Rena, the stories we hear, the feedback we get, it’s incredible. It’s what makes it fun. It’s what makes it just to keep pushing it, keep talking and keep getting it out there. It’s just the stories that we hear like a marine was about three weeks ago started taking our products that he hadn’t slept, had a good sleep in months and took our product. And again, it’s funny to say. But honestly, he said in the first night, he had his first full night of sleep in several months after taking the product. So it’s awesome to hear their stories.
RS: Yes, that’s amazing. Yes, and again, kudos for giving back to the community and for doing good with a business model. It’s always nice to hear. It’s always inspiring to hear people taking that on and giving back. So kudos. And you want to tell listeners how they can find your products or more about CBD?
MD: Absolutely. Just go online, it’s thecbdpath.com. It’s very educational, like I said. We pride ourselves on education. So you know, what you’re getting, when to get it, when to take it, how to take it. So yes, if you’d please go online to thecbdpath.com, we have oils, we have topical, anything you need to help you with your mental health, and as well as pet products.
RS: Yes. Don’t forget the pet products.
MD: Everybody loves their pets.
RS: Yes. All right, Mike, this has been a really great conversation, really interesting and really great to talk to you. So thanks for taking the time.
MD: Rena, thank you very much for having me. Very honored. So I look forward to talking to you again hopefully.
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