5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis or CBD Business, with Melissa Parker and Len Giancola

Len Giancola
Nov 4, 2019 · 9 min read

It will take the government a long time to make CBD truly legal. I started the company under the vague guidelines of the 2014 Farm Bill, which exposed me to risk. I patiently waited for the 2018 Farm Bill that was supposed to clear up the confusion and expand the legal sale of CBD. It only kind of did this and left distribution, banking, marketing, and selling CBD still not clearly legal. The CBD business community is still waiting for protection and clarification.

As part of my series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business” I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Parker. Melissa is a Los Angeles-based mother of three and the Founder of Reed’s Remedies. Nature has always been one of Melissa’s most significant sources of joy, and following a car accident that permanently impacted her health in 2003, she was diagnosed with many hard-to-treat conditions, propelling her further into the studies of plant medicine. In 2015, with limited access to CBD, and very little product diversity on the market, Melissa decided to take matters into her own hands, and put her plant knowledge to work. She called farms, ordered ingredients, and began mixing formulas in her kitchen. Her goal was to make formulas that were of the highest quality and had a consistent targeted effect. She consulted with some of the best scientists in the industry to create cannabinoid and terpene blends that were fast-acting and had predicted outcomes. After testing the formulas on herself, friends, and family, she finally landed on her current formulas called: Sleep, Calm, Focus, Relief, and Detox. Reed’s Remedies was named after Melissa’s father, Bill Reed, who taught her to love nature. By following their mutual passion, she’s able to live a better quality of life, and by sharing her formulas with others who are suffering, she fulfills her lifelong passion to help others while connecting them with the healing powers of plant science.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thank you for chatting with me! After my accident, I was slowly learning how to deal with the symptoms associated with my diagnosis, including fibromyalgia, a back injury, anxiety, and autoimmune thyroid disease.

As a young child, I would study plants and commit their names to memory. As I got older, I grew an herb garden and would make dried teas and tinctures to aid my ailments. I read books on aromatherapy and herbal medicine, and attended as many seminars as I could on the subjects. I then went to college to study nursing, which included courses in pharmacology, molecular science, and cellular biology. These studies tied all of my plant knowledge together with science. I also began using cannabis to treat my pain, sleep problems, and poor appetite.

After a few years of successfully microdosing cannabis, I began developing a sensitivity to THC, and it no longer fit into my lifestyle. At a friend’s recommendation, I tried CBD sometime in 2015, and it brought me the relief I was seeking, but there were very few options on the market. I wanted to bring clean, high quality products to the wellness space, that focused on specific ailments, and that dream came true when I officially launched Reed’s Remedies in 2018.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Owning a cannabis company is one wild ride. Because this is an emerging industry, there are no blueprints to follow. Everyone is just figuring things out as we go along, and the rules change almost daily. On the one hand, it’s essential to work as fast as you can because there are so many companies trying to beat each other to the finish line. On the other hand, it is imperative to stay fluid because laws and regulations change so quickly, and you must be able to adapt immediately.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Funny and mistakes are not words that I usually put together because mistakes cost money! This question does however, spark a good reminder to have a sense of humor over every growing pain, and to enjoy the ride of business ownership. My desire to help people with safe and effective plant remedies keeps me moving forward in this crazy industry. My only regret is that I spent too much time considering the business before jumping into it. Sometimes it easy to let overthinking and fear get in the way of starting something. I wish I would have jumped in faster than I did.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

Yes! I have a lot of exciting projects in the works that will be announced via my newsletter in Q1 of 2020. Stay tuned!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I am grateful for my husband’s support. I work long hours, which leaves him to help out more with the kids and the house. He is my biggest cheerleader, and I always turn to him when making big decisions or when I need to vent. We started Reed’s Remedies with our personal capital, and Kirk always believed that I would achieve success.

This industry is young, dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?

The cannabis industry is in its infancy, and the way we think about it changes daily. One thing I did from the beginning was invented new ways to use cannabis molecules to provide a specific experience for the consumer. I understood that there was a need for formulations that provided a consistent and desired outcome for the user. I protected my intellectual property early on and have patents pending. The best in the cannabis business are intellectual property focused. This helps consumers by bringing diversity to the cannabis products market.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?

There are several things that excite me about the cannabis industry. First, it’s exciting to see how many people are changing their minds about the plant. The negative stigmas are steadily fading away.

Cannabis is gradually becoming accepted for the versatile medicine that it is. Another exciting thing is the diversity in consumption options available. Products range from our oral sprays to shampoo. We are now seeing CBD products offered in pharmacies, grocers, coffee shops, and specialty stores.

Thirdly, I am excited that more and more quality education is circulating about cannabis use. There are social media pages, blogs, podcasts, and even national media exposes dedicated to the subject.

With this comes a few negative realities in the cannabis space. One is that the market is flooded with brands that popup up overnight and are just in it to capitalize on the CBD craze. A lot of these “bad” brands are not providing clean products and often contain way less CBD than they claim. This fact can be dangerous to public safety and can cause them to question whether or not cannabis should be legal. Consumers should always check their CBD products for a batch number that can be directly linked to a 3rd party lab report. Reed’s Remedies boxes contain a QR code that can be scanned right in the store, with your smart phone, which will display the test results proving potency and safety. We test for cannabinoid content, residual solvent, toxins, heavy metals, and pesticides.

Another negative thing in the market is that some retailers are uneducated in cannabis use. This fact can lead to false hope or misinformation to the consumer. Consumers are urged to visit the CBD brand’s website to review proper dosing, use, and warnings. Great brands will take the time to educate through their website and blog. Also, please purchase your CBD from a reputable retailer. CBD is now offered at some gas stations. This is not a recommended place to get your CBD education or products.

Finally, our demand for cannabis is high, but the number of physicians that can advise on its use is low. Patients are often using cannabis without their doctor’s involvement simply because the doctor doesn’t know enough to provide guidelines. I encourage anyone in the medical field to seek information on cannabis so they can guide their patients who will use it with our without their help.

Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business”? Please share a story or example for each.

Five things I wish someone would have told me before getting into the cannabis business would be:

1. It will take the government a long time to make CBD truly legal. I started the company under the vague guidelines of the 2014 Farm Bill, which exposed me to risk. I patiently waited for the 2018 Farm Bill that was supposed to clear up the confusion and expand the legal sale of CBD. It only kind of did this and left distribution, banking, marketing, and selling CBD still not clearly legal. The CBD business community is still waiting for protection and clarification.

2. Be prepared for banking and merchant processing struggles. Even though hemp was removed from the controlled substance list, many hemp businesses are left without access to banking and merchant services. We were without merchant services for 5 months in 2019, and it caused a setback. Our banking is still limited, and fees are high.

3. Commit sooner! I wish I would have been braver and jumped in the business back in 2015 rather than waiting for almost two years.

4. Your friends and family will support you. Coming out of the “cannabis closet” wasn’t easy to do. I was afraid that my conservative friends and acquaintances would judge me or be unsupportive. I quickly realized that this was not the case, and some of my most reserved friends became my most loyal customers.

5. There will be vultures in the cannabis industry. This industry has its fair share of charlatans. They pray on new and small business owners knowing that they face many unique challenges. They promise to give services and bring increased revenue. Luckily, I have learned to rely on instinct and never ignore a bad “gut feeling”. This innate skill has kept me from falling victim to these traps.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

I think you can be generous to your employees and also make money. Some employers try to save money by underpaying or under providing benefits to their employees. I argue that if you have happy and appreciated employees, you will foster loyalty and increase productivity. It is essential to let your employees have creative freedom and to acknowledge when they go the extra mile.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I love using my resources and voice to support a cleaner planet. I look forward to the day when our hemp processing infrastructure is in place to take full advantage of this versatile, sustainable resource. My farm partner employees uses organic farming practices and operate a state of the art irrigation system that uses as little water as possible, avoiding runoff and evaporation. The possibility for hemp to reduce waste, clean our soil, and reduce our carbon footprint is unmeasurable. I will be involved in replacing plastics, paper, clothing, and other materials with hemp as much as I can be.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

You can follow us on Instagram or Facebook!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Len Giancola

Written by

Founding Partner of MJ.com

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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