Working in the cannabis industry can be tough. And as Joseph Caruso, CEO of Green Helix—which produces CBD products for both humans and pets—told Civilized its no place for the forgetful.
"Always, always listen to your gut no matter the consequence and risk. Patience is a necessity, not a luxury. Never develop amnesia—remember where you came from, why you started and who helped you get there."
What makes your company different from others in the cannabis space?
The #1 differentiating factor for Green Helix, a hemp derived CBD brand, is our high dosage efficacy product line, 1500–2000mg, and how we have controlled the pricing around such. A second noteworthy factor is the diversity around the brand. When I speak of Green Helix I refer to the 'trifecta' effect—a brand that covers supplements (Green Helix), athleisure topicals (Helix Beauty), and pets (Fur Baby Fix), and creates a 1 stop shop atmosphere in an environment today that creates absolute information overload and confusion for the average consumer.
How did you get into the cannabis space?
I was in the process of exiting my last startup in software and on a chance visit to Colorado in 2015 I was awestruck at the mania surrounding recreational cannabis. After visiting a dispensary I sat in the parking lot for several hours and just watched the foot traffic. I was speechless not only regarding the diversity in demographics—grandparents to twenty something—but also the volume on a non-descript Tuesday afternoon!
Walk us through a normal day.
Wake between 5:45 and 6:30; morning gym workout and then family time for breakfast; review all industry related news; emails, social media and all business correspondence; product fulfillment; meetings with staff and other vendors who carry Green Helix products; test competing products and R&D for all future Helix products; family time for dinner; review tomorrow's upcoming schedule; meditation and bedtime prep.
What has been your biggest lesson about working in cannabis, and in business in general?
Never ever disparage or underestimate the competition. Always be learning and filling your mind with fresh education. Be an expert listener and always lead with an empathetic ear. Guard against misguided ambition and loyalty. Do NOT be the entrepreneur who has never seen a deal he doesn't like (in other words, say 'no' a lot more then 'yes'). Be overtly discerning in the choices you make in the people you keep company with.
What do you see as your biggest opportunity?
To build a global brand that's key initiative is to help people and animals find alternative solutions via plant based, natural and traditional medicine. Traditional medicine today has been misconstrued because for hundreds if not thousands of years Mother Earth was humanity's pharmacy—NOT Johnson & Johnson (Big Pharma). Green Helix's mission is to get back to old school, truly traditional methodologies.
What sets you apart to make you a potential leader in cannabis?
Green Helix is hemp derived CBD, not cannabis (THC products). Our high dosage efficacy, how it's priced and our commitment to education in the space is what drives our mantra to lead the pack. This is healthcare, which carries an immense privilege and responsibility and in order to honor such our products need proper 'for the masses' affordability and a commitment to educate and provide answers that are supported by facts and transparency. Evidence of that action item can be seen via our weekly product demos in our retail locations in order to educate a very confused public.
What is the most frustrating aspect of the cannabis industry today?
The fact that cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug and shares company with heroin, LSD, and ecstasy—dangerous narcotics that have devastating effects—is laughable. Cocaine, methamphetamine, dangerous and highly addictive opiates such as Vicodin and OxyContin as well as the deadly fentanyl are all drugs that are Schedule II—lower than cannabis. It is truly unfathomable. Worse, with such a scheduling, it severely limits the research and funding capabilities surrounding cannabis.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into the cannabis space?
As with any entrepreneurial venture, know what you're getting yourself into. 'CEO' doesn't stand for 'Chasing Every Opportunity', rather it's more like 'Constantly Enduring Obstacles'. The heartfelt advice is put your crash helmet on and prepare yourself for a long marathon of wild emotional swings, unfair breaks, political risk, financial turbulence and very long nights, weeks, months and even years—sprinkled in there of course is the incredible and satisfying feeling of creating something or joining a company that is truly making history, a modern day industrial revolution, the birth of an entirely new global industry geared to offer the masses relief and logical alternatives.
What are your biggest tips for branding cannabis?
Like anything else, be counterintuitive and stay away from the mass mentality.
Do you see any big changes coming in the future of cannabis?
Absolutely. The genie is out of the bottle. Now it's just about timing, strategic moves and providing value for the masses.
Do you consume cannabis? And if so, what's your favorite way to consume?
Occasionally. My favorite genetics are Cherry Pie and Sunset Sherbet. My favorite consumption method is smoking a hand-rolled J that I prepared myself.