We’ve found ourselves at a crossroads in history: a moment in which we can either be in service of nature and humanity by respecting and elevating the hemp plant, or let irresponsible and self-serving behavior threaten its immeasurable potential for good.
My eyes were first opened to CBD and cannabinoids over a decade ago. It was 2009, doctors and research scientists at the Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine had just completed deeper research on cannabinoids and the human brain… and it was clear that this was just the beginning. The idea that in all of our bodies was a unifying cellular system (the ECS) that existed solely to maintain “homeostasis” between our cells — a supportive bridge between the body and the mind — and that the key to unlocking its full therapeutic potential could exist in the largely misunderstood hemp plant: it was fascinating.
And I leaned in. I leaned in because it was the unification of all the things I’ve been most passionate about throughout my career: nature, science, health and conscious innovation. And because it teased the simple yet complex idea I had spent my entire life trying to facilitate: empowering humans to connect with nature in the most symbiotic way. In the years that followed, I pored over the research. I sought out new studies that, one by one, would connect the molecule from this plant to something that felt much bigger: something that could soothe symptoms while taking care of this newly discovered and broadly unknown system.
Not many times in our history had we seen science unfold before our eyes at such a rapid pace... And I simply had to be a part of unlocking the magic.
We created Prima, a range of plant wellness products utilizing hemp-based cannabinoids, in order to responsibly bring the power of this plant to people everywhere. It’s the truest manifestation of the core beliefs I hold for humanity, for my loved ones, and the legacy I hope to leave behind. And every day I have an opportunity to live my purpose... to do something that dynamically evolves the status quo. I’m reminded of a quote by one of my heroes, the poet laureate of Deep Ecology, Gary Snyder:
“Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.”
Isn’t that it? Don’t we all have that responsibility?
Transparently, this is what worries me about this fragile industry in this time. I believe so strongly in the therapeutic properties and intrinsic value of this plant; I’m certain that given what is a true stress epidemic, it’s what humanity needs right now. And yet...it’s moving at a velocity that is all at once exciting and incredibly worrisome. The profiteering and pioneering mentality — the idea that we need to conquer and control — coupled with what is arguably the biggest business opportunity of our time provides a serious reason for concern. Because the possibility of the plant being exploited and commoditized in a non-precious way, particularly when we lack the regulation that would protect it, and people, is very real.
The question becomes, How do you advance, promote and champion the plant without exploiting it?
It’s a dynamic conflict for me — especially given the human health, ecological, economic and social systems hemp can fundamentally impact. I want this plant, with such unimaginable promise, to be embraced as a universal wellness tool. I want people to understand its inherent power and its worthy potential. I want our society to truly benefit from its wisdom. But not if it’s at the cost of being done without the reverence and respect it so deserves.
The reality of being in business is that you must show speed, acceptance and perpetual growth. But my plea would be to slow down. Take a moment to understand what’s at stake. Prioritize doing the right and responsible thing over being the next best thing. At Prima, this is precisely why we established ourselves as a Public Benefit Corporation from day one — so that we could be held accountable: to ourselves, to the plant and to the greater good. And, it’s why we’ll remain unwavering in our commitment to industry-defining standards of purity, quality, ethics and social impact. It’s not the easy path. Let’s be real: launching any business is no easy path. Most business advisors would ask why I would make it that much harder. But it’s the only path I could take; there was no other choice.
The truth is: done right, the growth of this industry would mean an immeasurably positive impact for people and for our planet. But it must be done right. We have a moral duty to be advocates for and guardians of this precious natural resource. Real accountability is paramount. Rigorous standards of quality, testing and compliance must be enacted, upheld and further broadened. And I encourage anyone coming into the space to deeply examine their personal and professional values, and the value they’re trying to gain, impart or extract from hemp, CBD and this wellness industry as a whole.
Now more than ever, we need to be strong, wise, intentional and self-aware — and this requires courage. It requires the courage to acknowledge that the decisions we make now will have a meaningful and lasting impact...on society and on this plant’s potential for good. This is the moment to take a stand. This is the moment to be brave enough to dig in and take responsibility.
I will. Will you?