This CBD Company Wants You to Truly Understand the Process From Seed to Sale

Quality, quality, quality

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Plant People

CBD companies these days seem a dime a dozen. There's CBD in drinks, in gummies, in food and a host of other ways to ingest the literal "chill pill". But how do you tell the good from the bad and what formula will actually help you feel more relaxed? We spoke with Plant People's CEO Gabe Kennedy to get some answers.

Plant People is a CBD company that considers every step of the process in creating CBD, ensuring that customers know and understand what they're getting.

Along with co-founder Hudson Gaines-Ross, the duo—who both suffered injuries—were disillusioned with the current medical industry, especially traditional pharmaceuticals, so according to their website, "they turned away from conventional western medicine and found healing and wholeness on a plant-based path to recovery, lifted by the power in cannabis along with eastern and western herbs. Amazed and inspired to share nature’s brilliance, the two founded Plant People."

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Plant People

First of all, what is CBD? Ex. Where does it come from? Where is it grown? (Obviously, this second part depends on who's making it but any insight you can provide will be great)

Gabe Kennedy: I would like to start off by saying that we believe in the power of all plants. The true benefit of these compounds comes from whole-plant extracts, even though the singular compound CBD is what is most commonly known. CBD stands for Cannabidiol. This compound occurs in almost all plant life but is found in higher concentrations in the Cannabis Sativa L plant. There are over 80 different types of phytocannabinoids. CBD can come from hemp or marijuana, although most 'CBD' found in mainstream America is hemp-derived. CBD is associated with the medicinal and healing properties of the plant that does not produce a high, unlike THC which is the psychoactive component. CBD is known to reduce anxiety, stress, inflammation and support our endocannabinoid system. Hemp is federally legal to grow anywhere, but the highest producing states from my knowledge are Colorado, Kentucky and Oregon.

Explain to me how CBD is different from THC?

Kennedy: CBD is a non-intoxicating compound found in Cannabis, whereas THC produces psychoactive effects. Additionally THC is the compound that defines Cannabis as Hemp or Marijuana in the eyes of the government. Plants at harvest containing <.3% THC are hemp and >.3% THC is Marijuana. 

In your opinion what are the benefits of CBD?

Kennedy: We are very careful to not make claims, as more studies are necessary, but we have seen that Cannabinoids including CBD can be beneficial for stress, anxiety, pain, inflammation and neuroprotection. A primary attribute is of these compounds is the ability to reduce inflammation and promote a sense of balance within the body and mind. Studies have demonstrated that CBD in isolation is not as effective as it is when used in conjunction with the other compounds found in a 'whole plant' extract.  

What makes good CBD versus “bad” CBD?

Kennedy: CBD is simply a chemical compound. There is nothing 'good or bad' in a compound but rather the systems it comes from. I would say great hemp is grown with regenerative organic practices with respect to the soil, plants, animals and the people that interact with it. It is extracted in a clean and responsible way, free of solvents and tested for purity and safety every step of the way. Additionally, it is important to look at the businesses you are supporting to ensure they are operating with a mindset of integrity—helping grow the industry with access, social justice and equity.  

As far as the oils themselves, I think it is important to understand the difference between a full-spectrum extract, broad-spectrum extract or CBD isolate. A full-spectrum extract contains all the beneficial cannabinoids and compounds found in the hemp plant - it is mostly CBD, but also has minor cannabinoids like CBC, CBG, terpenes, phytonutrients and a compliant amount of THC—think of it as a bountiful chefs salad. Broad-spectrum has mostly CBD, less minor cannabinoids and 0% THC—think of just the lettuce of a salad. CBD isolate is only the CBD compound - think of a capsule of chlorophyll made from the lettuce. Research shows that whole plant material has greater effects than isolated compounds. 

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Plant People

What should people look for with CBD processes? Example: extraction process, cold-pressed, etc?

Kennedy: I encourage people to explore the whole system. Seed to sale. We are fans of full-spectrum oils, meaning they contain more than just the singular CBD compound, but rather a wide variety of cannabinoids, terpenes, phytonutrients and a little bit of THC. To ensure you are buying clean product, lab reports are a great place to start as they will show potency, terpene content, microbial activity, herbicides, pesticides, heavy metals and solvents. The cleaner extraction methods to look for are CO2 and an Alcohol-based extraction. The next level of investigation is asking about the farm origin and practices—the opportunity for hemp to impact agriculture is tremendous, so ensuring it is grown with integrity is important. 

How can someone who’s never used CBD make the right decision about what type of CBD is best for them?

Kennedy: I encourage people to go low and slow and take note of how they feel—10mg of a full-spectrum oil is a good starting point. Thinking about the preferred way to consume is also important. Vape, sublingual, capsules or topical applications all work but have different effects. I personally opt for sublingual tinctures. The important part about consuming any plant medicine is to make sure that you take it every day. Consistency is key. It is just like any other practice, yoga or meditation—you can do it every once in a while and feel good, but the profound shift happens when one commits to the practice.

Describe your brand building strategy in one sentence.

Kennedy: We have built plant people on grit, hustle and doing more with less. Being resourceful, scrappy and thoughtful. Our goal is to build a company that leaves this planet better than when we found it, to create systemic change and lead the conversation. 

If you were pitching your business on Shark Tank, what would you say?

Kennedy: Plant People is committed to healing and connecting people and the planet through the power of plants. Everything we do comes down to our commitment to this mission—the celebration of education, community and regenerative practices. 

The opportunity to change the face of agriculture, supplements, medicine, textiles, fuels and beyond all lies within this plant and all plants. 

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned as a founder?

Kennedy: Making a decision and moving on is the name of the game. There will never be a perfect path. We believe in hearing all perspectives, educating ourselves and then making a decision and then iterating.

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Plant People

What’s one aspect of your job that you knew nothing about? How did you adapt?

Kennedy: I had never built a brand from scratch. I had done business plans in college, but I had never brought an idea to fruition in the way we have with plant people. I feel so grateful to have Hudson as a co-founder who has that experience and so diligently lead the charge with patience and confidence.

The biggest thing for me was to commit to decision making and move forward. Simply putting one foot in front of the other and making the most educated choice is critical. It is a process that often means taking two steps forward and one step back. Iteration and adaptation to new external and internal forces go with the territory. 

What do you consider your greatest failure to date? What did it teach you?

Kennedy: When we first started and began picking up momentum we ran out of inventory. It was a great problem to have, but not ideal for a growing business. No product, no sales. We import all of our herbs from around the world so lead times can take longer than expected sometimes, especially when the herbs are rare. After a few press hits, the inventory of our capsules ran dry and we had to scramble to expedite new imports and production runs. We learned that it is important to have an additional buffer in our lead times and more aggressive inventory forecasting. We have upped our inventory pars and fingers crossed will stay ahead of the game. 

How do you take your coffee?

Kennedy: Black—strong. If I am feeling indulgent I will go for a cappuccino. 

How can a candidate impress you in a job interview?

Kennedy: Be honest, challenge our thinking, poke holes in the business and focus on celebrating your own strengths. I am a firm believer of building around our innate strengths and then hiring to fill in the gaps. We are only as good as our team. People are everything. 

What advice would you give to anyone looking to launch a business?

Kennedy: Find a business that not only inspires you but is there for the benefit of the greater good.  Look at what the world needs and go solve those problems. Finding satisfaction in "passion" is one thing, helping people and the planet is a whole other level. We need change-makers, we need to challenge the status quo, we need to commit to doing better. There is so much opportunity in moving the course of history in the right direction—it starts with you—it starts with us.

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