Meet Jackie Kuspa from Charlotte’s Web - The Leading Cannabis Company in The World
By Dr Julie Moltke
Dosage had the pleasure of interviewing one of the key profiles of the American hemp company
Jackie Kuspa is Global Sales Manager Charlotte’s Web , Inc by the Stanley brothers, the biggest hemp company in the US. In 2013, CW achieved global media recognition through the success story of their inspiration, little Charlotte Figi who was featured on Dr Sanjay Gupta’s CNN documentary “WEED”. Charlotte had suffered from over 300 seizures per week, and with the help of the Stanleys’ now famous Charlotte’s Web, she’s thriving in grade school.
Jackie joined CW in January 2016 and started working with social media and marketing at a time where the company had only 25 employees. As soon as the international market opened up she began to work with global sales and market research, a great opportunity as she is educated in international and legal studies.
1. What made you get into the cannabis business in the first place?
I grew up with cannabis as part of the culture in Colorado. I met people with a lot of different ailments and as I have always been opposed to putting foreign pharmaceuticals into my body, when the opportunity came to be part of the health and wellness industry, I had to take it. The product sells itself, but the fantastic stories I will never be able to duplicate.
2. What is the vision behind CW Hemp?
The mission is to improve lives. We started with very sick patients and then realised we could move into health and wellness to generally improve the quality of people’s lives. CBD can be used in so many ways. The endocannabinoid system has only been known for 25 years, and there is still so much more to be known about it. We need to dissolve the stigma there is around CBD so people can see the true benefits. It is fair to question the actual value of CBD since the amount of research being done is limited due to the fact that THC, the main intoxicating ingredient of cannabis, is still federally illegal in the US. But education and information is essential. We are a social enterprise and part of our mission is to give back to the community so we can thrive together. Every employee gets two days off a year to go volunteering, and it is a great place to work.
3. What was the first product CW made and who was it aimed at?
The first product was our CBD oil, and it is still the primary product and what we are known for. We have topicals and capsules too, but the oils are what most people use. We use whole-plant, full spectrum hemp oil, all our products are vegan except for one topical containing beeswax, and we use no pesticides, no GMO and generally try to be as sustainable as possible. We are only working with organic processes, and we are 95% organic, except for certain ingredients such as flavourings.
4. Who is the typical product consumer and what are they looking for?
Most people come through the website or retail locations for the oil. A lot of new customers hear about us through other people’s stories, through word of mouth and the community. The typical consumer is American as the main market and the majority of the focus is in the US. We also have operations in the UK and recently in Brazil where they have extended the application list for CBD from one condition which was epilepsy to now containing more than 120. We are doing research with hospitals and universities in Brazil, and we can reuse that information for the US and beyond. Any research and information that can be shared are really valuable at this point in time.
5. Where do you see CW going in the future?
It is hard to answer that question. I do expect us to expand globally, to help improve lives across the world, but some markets are just too far behind with their legislation to allow us to be there right now. We will look at every country that we can, but we need to take it slow and do things properly. We are making sure to follow local regulation and do everything appropriately and follow label compliance and research. At the end of the day, regulations are what will drive us.
6. What cannabis product/brand/business do you think is great right now, besides your own?
I personally use Sagely; they do topical product, and I love their marketing and the beautiful packaging, and they are a brand I would look out for in the US. CV Sciences and Elexinol are great products, and they are definitely some of our top competitors for a reason.
7. What has been the most exciting thing the last year for Charlotte’s Web?
The most exciting is that the company went public last June. We were so excited to get the funding that we needed to meet the demand of the market and to make sure our projects can come to life and that we have the machines and the extraction machines to meet the demand.
8. What has been the most challenging thing for you/your brand this year?
We are ready to hear from the FDA, and the DEA and sometimes their opinion does not match which can complicate things. But we do need the regulations so we have something to fall back on and it is exciting to be part of legislation around the world. CW is a pioneering company in a pioneering industry. We are doing things right; we make sure our products follow compliance, and this is what will move the market forward. We want to follow the rules we just need to know what they are since sometimes it is a grey area. The regulatory framework is changing daily, so we need the best people on the team to navigate it.
9. What advice would you give to the consumer when looking for a CBD product?
My advice to a new consumer is to ask a lot of questions. Ask about the labelling, the labelling is not always clear, and sometimes even I get confused. If it says, 200 mg on the label is it then 200 mg of pure CBD or is it CBD plus a mixture? Are the companies giving back to the community and where is the hemp grown, is it full spectrum, do they use pesticides or herbicides? We as a company cannot suggest serving size, and we cannot make any medical claims, so it is good to know what you are looking for and do your background research when you want to find the product for you. Ask questions like do they quality test their products and what are the quality standards? In a few years, a company will not be successful or even exist, if you cannot answer the questions that I mentioned above. I believe that in the future the regulations will make sure that you have third-party testing and follow GMP, but in the meantime, the consumer has to be really aware to ask these questions.
10. How do you see the future for hemp-based products in Europe and what do you think is the most crucial step for the industry just now?
I expect that in 5-10 years all countries will know about the endocannabinoid system, with education and research appearing. At the minute, the tight regulation in many parts of Europe makes it difficult for us to move forward there, but we do expect to do that eventually. The world is lacking cannabis education. We need to educate about the ECS and how the cannabinoids work on that. The product, supported by all the fantastic stories, sells itself. The industry needs advocates who are sharing real knowledge about cannabis as there is so much false information out there
11. What is your own personal health advice?
I think finding a way to improve your life is a great goal to have. Happiness is what you make it, and even though everyone can be in a gloomy mood, it is generally about improving your life as you only have one life to live.