When approximately one million people gathered in New York's Times Square on December 31, 2018, most of them didn't know they were standing in front of cannabis history being made as the ball dropped into 2019. But that night, a handful of hemp- and marijuana-related companies became the first of their kind to advertise in some of the most coveted real estate in the world. One of those companies was Elixinol, a hemp and CBD company based in Broomfield.
Don't let the suburban headquarters fool you: Elixinol has been pushing the tired boundaries of cannabis advertising for some time now, building itself into an internationally known cannabinoid company. To learn more about the firm's bid for Times Square and its plans for the future, we talked with founder and former physical therapist Gabriel Ettenson.
Westword: As a former physical therapist, what attracted you to hemp and CBD?
Gabriel Ettenson: Inflammation is the biggest enemy of health. Chronic inflammation or a faulty nervous system was at the root of 95 percent of my patients' symptoms. This typically manifested as a combination of pain and immobility. Not only does inflammation create pain, which makes it harder to move and stay active, but persistent inflammation creates internal damage. An inflamed body is in constant defense mode from the inside out.
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While exercise and hands-on treatment was important, I always felt there needed to be something additional that would expedite my patients' response to treatment. When I learned of the research on the neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD, I tried it and saw an immediate improvement in response time versus traditional treatment. I knew if I could reduce inflammation in my patients, I could improve outcomes and reduce suffering. CBD was benign and worked well on my patients, so for me, ignoring CBD’s benefits would have been a disservice to [them].
Elixinol made some news for its recent advertising in New York's Times Square on New Year's Eve. Can you explain what happened, and how that all came together?
We’re fortunate that even though we’re a quickly growing international company, we’re also able to be incredibly nimble and active. Our team identified the opportunity and put it together very quickly. It was a real team effort.
The company has also advertised in Tokyo, and tried to advertise in Times Square for New Year's Eve in 2017. Why is real estate so important for advertising a CBD brand?
As more and more people become informed about CBD, we want to make sure that we’re there for those people. From seed to sale, Elixinol has really made it a priority to develop premium-quality CBD, and we want our advertising placements to reflect the product’s quality.
Elixinol makes or distributes a variety of hemp products, from protein to CBD tinctures to dog treats. What's generating the most consumer interest right now?
This is something that has got me excited for 2019. Whether that’s a great-tasting beverage additive or a topical, everyone wants an effective CBD product that fits into their busy lifestyles — they want to throw it in their gym bag or purse and be able to use CBD when and where they want. I think we’ve done a great job developing easy-to-use, approachable, healthy products. But we’re only getting started.
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Which hemp and CBD products are consumers lacking the most education in?
Like any natural product, not all CBD is the same, and I think people are realizing the importance of full-spectrum CBD. We know from research that full-spectrum CBD products, like Elixinol’s, use a full range of the phytonutrient hemp compounds and have vastly superior outcomes. People say all the time: “I had some CBD water, but I didn’t think it did anything for me." Then we provide them with a full-spectrum product — ANY full spectrum product — and their eyes light up, and you can see they understand what all the excitement is about.
How does the Farm Bill's passing affect the way that CBD tinctures, capsules and other products intended for human consumption will be marketed and labeled?
I’m sure there will be changes, but there have been none announced yet. If there are changes, I know Elixinol will do as we’ve always done: meet and exceed standards for extraction and packaging.