Key communications learnings from Constance Finley of Constance Therapeutics.
What would you say is the biggest business challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it? What did you learn from it?
Cannabis is unique in that it is federally illegal after being the most common medicine in the American pharmacopeia before it was banned. My own prejudice against any sort of regular use of cannabis was my first challenge that almost stopped this amazing business from happening! The stigma that is government sponsored and enforced means that most information disseminated about cannabis is inaccurate or the opposite of the truth, even. We have a great twitter campaign “Science not Stigma” to address this phenomena of ignorance and misconception. This backdrop provides immense challenges—from obtaining a business bank account, securing a business license, negotiating the ever changing laws and regulatory ordinances that govern cannabis at the local and state level, expanding across state lines, selling to patients who must come to California to obtain our product—so being an effective and professional business in an industry that is illegal in half the states and legal in the others is a fairly unique challenge.
Meeting the obstacles present in the cannabis industry forces me to think out of the box, to emphasize consistent professionalism in everything we do, and led me to realize the essential importance of relationships—with staff, customers, government officials, scientists—personal relationships with people with high integrity and intelligence becomes central to our success. The loyalty and support from our cannabis patients, our farmers, vendors, etc. is key to the work environment required to deliver cutting edge products to a world in need.
What would you consider your greatest success in your career?
Securing patents in the field of medicinal cannabis is probably my biggest achievement to date—that and the standardization that the patents are based upon. I’m thrilled to have taken an often toxic and non evidence based process and turned it into a scientifically third party validated standardized and professionalized one that physicians and patients are crediting with saving lives and bringing comfort and ease to those seriously suffering. We are the only company in cannabis concentrates to have a verified outcome study showing efficacy in stage four cancer compiled by a physician. Oh, and being the first we know of to produce CBD rich concentrates back in 2009—I’m very proud of that!
What experience in your career have you learned the most from?
Negative experiences I go through consistently teach me one lesson lately: to trust my instincts and my intelligence and creativity.
What is something about the cannabis industry that you wish you could change and why?
De-schedule cannabis! Allow clinical research in the United States! Sixty percent of our federal prison population is there because of non-violent crimes involving possession or sale or growing of cannabis. Let the people out of jail—save this country hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
How do you see the cannabis changing in the next five years?
Transformation in the last five years renders this industry almost unrecognizable. The next five are going to be even more amazing. We recently saw Microsoft agree to be involved in the cannabis industry—a huge first.
Let’s think 2021, when pre-eminent financial institutions, insurance companies and banks, legal and accounting top tier firms compete to be more effective in this industry—all will develop products and teams to compete for a piece of the cannabis industry pie. VC groups that previously only focused on tech now, in 2021, have large independent teams within their corporate structures that only work in the cannabis field. Federally legal, exciting research at every level of mammalian health is underway. Stanford University is giving Tel Aviv a serious run for their money in trying to be first in the world in cannabis research. California regulators and lawmakers finally woke up and back in 2017 began regulating this industry as it should have been all along so that the terroir of cannabis—farms in Northern California and Oregon are supported as the important contributors to the economy and culture that they are. States who did not have medicinal cannabis programs in 2017 began importing from California and Oregon, just as they do artisanal wines and craft beer. Medical schools now teach the basics of the endocannabinoid system to all physicians. You could have your cannabis mailed to you, or pick it up at a high end retail store like your now favorite wine store, or a medicinal variety at your doctor’s office or pharmacy. Maybe you will drive to pick it up in a car that utilizes hemp rather than plastics. You will be able to order a cannabis infused cocktail at your favorite high end cocktail bar. Insurance companies pay for the cannabis your physician prescribes from her new found knowledge from her class on the Endocannabinoid system or dosing protocols with cannabis concentrates. I promise you the world will be a different and nicer place when cannabis takes its proper place in mammalian health and pleasure.
If you had a million dollars, what would you do and why?
Well, I don’t have to answer that theoretically: I would do exactly what I’ve done already—invest in the most exciting industry on earth right now—medicinal cannabis!