Lord Jones is a prestige natural skincare brand – the only difference – Lord Jones employs a team of lawyers to ensure they don’t have to tussle with the DEA over a moisturizer.
Hearing Lord Jones co-founder Cindy Capobianco talk about her luxury cannabis-infused product business, she sounds a lot like a maker of a prestige natural skincare brand: made in small batches, organic ingredients, medicinal value of said ingredients. Of course with a celebrity-favorite body lotion and face products slated for release later this year, Lord Jones is a prestige natural skincare brand – the only difference – Lord Jones employs a team of lawyers to ensure they don’t have to tussle with the DEA over a moisturizer.
Though cannabis is more mainstream than ever with 29 states and Washington D.C. having some form of legalized program, companies like Lord Jones are still racking up the legal fees as they attempt to navigate the grey area of selling cannabis-based skincare products. Cannabis has at least 80 different cannabinoids, a group of active compounds which give the plant its medical and recreational properties. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)might be the best-known cannabinoid for creating the “high” effect, but non-pschyoactive (it won’t get you high) cannabidiol (CBD) tends to be the star in cannabis-based skincare.
Hemp-derived CBD has been touted in several medical studies for a myriad of health benefits ranging from treating psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and eczema to minimizing seizures, stress, and insomnia. According to research firm Brightfield Group, the rapid-growing CBD market hit $170 million in 2017 and is projected to reach $1 billion within the next three years.
Capobianco and her husband Robert Rosenheck originally co-founded the Los Angeles-based company as a producer of artisan cannabis edibles, and as a response to the void in the market for upscale edibles with precise dosage. “Nothing was labeled. A cookie would be packaged in a giant plastic bag stapled shut,” says Capobianco. “We saw the opportunity to normalize, to create products made from the best ingredients. We wanted to deliver a consistent experience every time.”
The brand has been very savvy and strategic when it’s come to collaborations. Early in 2017, the company joined forces with Icelandic group Sigur Rós to release Sigurberry High-CBD Gumdrops. The company celebrated by hosting a song bath in Los Angeles where the group performed. They have also done events with Equinox and will open a boutique in the Standard Hotel in West Hollywood, where they will offer their own products as well as a curated collection of cannabis items. It will also be the first weed-centric retail location in a hotel in this country.
When Lord Jones first got into topicals, they produced body lotion which had a combination of THC and CBD that could only be sold in medical marijuana dispensaries. Last year they launched a CBD-rich body lotion derived from industrial hemp, hailed by celebrities like Olivia Wilde and Mandy Moore and sold nationwide in specialty shops and via their website. “We were skeptical at first if a hemp-derived CBD extract would be effective without the THC,” says Capobianco. “We are the best guinea pigs we know and we found that it [CBD extract] really worked for our own injuries so we came out with our CBD-only lotion.”
Though marketed to ease sore muscles, Capobianco found that customers were applying the organic cream to rashes, dry patches, prior to Botox to prevent swelling and bruising, and to treat other skin ailments. “We call it grandmother research – documenting our customers’ experience to learn the various benefits.”
Though Capobianco pokes fun at her “grandmother” research, due to current federal regulations she doesn’t have much of a choice, and neither do the top researchers in our country. Robert Dellavalle, M.D., Ph.D., MSPH, Professor of Dermatology and Public Health at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health was one of the authors of an April 2017 Journal of the American Academy Dermatologypaper, a survey of all the literature on the potential for cannabinoids on humans and animals titled “The role of cannabinoids in dermatology.”
Devalle and his peers have taken a similar approach to Capobianco. “We don’t have rigorous studies so we’ve started a registry of patients to see what they are using and if they think its working.” They don’t have rigorous studies because of the intense government scrutiny. “The problem is the US federal government. We are going to see other countries like Israel and Canada take the lead if we continue to have these regulatory hurdles.”
Danny Zlatnik, an attorney at Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty in Santa Rosa, CA, specializing in California cannabis law doesn’t see those regulatory hurdles going away anytime soon under the current administration. “Jeff Sessions is certainly not a friend of cannabis. As long as he is the Attorney General, drug warriors will have a willing commander should the Trump administration decide to take on cannabis.”
Many of the cannabis-focused brands feel held back by the current environment. “Our business would be in a different league right now if there wasn’t so much grey area,” says Steven Saxton, CEO of Green Gorilla, a Los Angeles-based company producing cannabis oils and lip balms, with face creams and muscle rubs slated for release later this year. “Our business saw 500% growth from the year before but it would have been up 10000% if it wasn’t for all the government regulation.”
So how do cannabis-based skincare companies ensure they are compliant in this uncertain environment? Though regulation varies state by state, “If the company intends to ship nationally their products must not contain any THC and must be made from the parts of the Cannabis sativa L. plant that are not considered a controlled substance under the Controlled Substance Act ‘CSA’—namely, the mature stalks of Cannabis plant,” according to Zlatnik. One way to attempt this is by using industrial hemp, which is derived from non-psychoactive varieties of the Cannabis sativa L. plant, whose mature stalks and seed oil are not included in the CSA’s definition of marijuana.
Companies have gone so far to ensure compliance they manufacture THC and CBD products in separate states. Denver Colorado’s CBx Sciences are building an entirely new facility in a different state (the company declined to disclose the location) to manufacture the non-THC products. Both the THC-derived and non-THC-derived products from CBx Sciences include not only CBD but also other cannabis compounds such as CBN and CBG.
By ,- Forbes