READ, READ, READ — new information is coming out every day about some study or some company that is being innovative in their products. Because this industry is so new, it behooves all of us to let everyone in on what works and how. We need to come together to share information — to build the knowledge base. Don’t hoard information for fear of losing a monetary advantage when it will benefit a large portion of patients.
As a part of my series about strong women leaders in the cannabis industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Betsy Scanlan, Co-Founder of The Good Patch.
While engaged in an 18-year career in Real Estate, ranging from agent to contractor to investor and property preservation company CEO, Betsy Scanlan acted as the primary caregiver to four family members during their losing battle with cancer and the chief cheerleader to one whose fight is so far successful. From the fear she witnessed at the initial diagnosis to the pain and fatigue brought on by various treatment protocols to the grim courage required to soldier on and finally to the grace she beheld in late night prayers and early morning goodbyes, she was profoundly moved and inspired to participate, advocate and contribute to the important work of using cannabis to alleviate both the agony and the anxiety of those who are suffering.
Ms. Scanlan began participating in the medical cannabis industry as an investor in 2012 through The Arcview Venture Capital Fund. She was the founder and CEO of The Downing Group which was developing OTC products integrating CBD into gels, creams and patches in order to reduce inflammation, pain, fatigue, nausea, anxiety and loss of appetite for those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments. In mid 2017, she was contacted by a close friend to help create CBD and Plant based ingredients for the topical patch market. The Good Patch was born. She is also an active investor and participant in the process of gaining legislative approval for the use of medical marijuana in Tennessee.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis industry?
My transformation from entrepreneur and real estate investor to medical cannabis industry leader was the result of a personal journey. Over the course of a few years, I acted as the primary caregiver to four family members who succumbed to cancer. I saw firsthand how powerful cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD) was in alleviating pain and reducing the suffering of my loved ones. My first foray into the industry was as an investor in 2012. I then founded and became the CEO of The Downing Group which developed over-the-counter products, integrating CBD into gels, creams and patches in order to reduce ailments such as pain and nausea for those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment. The success of The Downing Group attracted the attention of my partners in similar industries with the idea to extract CBD and plant-based ingredients for use in topical patches. Working alongside my partners, we founded The Good Patch, which offers safe, tested and potent phytocannabinoid and plant-infused products. The patches use either organically farmed hemp or natural plant extracts to assist in addressing everyday ailments. I continue to invest and participate in the process of gaining legislative approval for the use of medical marijuana.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
While my partners and I have started several pretty successful businesses, we were shocked at how fast The Good Patch took off. From the beginning, it was as if we’d been dropped into a stew of dramatic decisions and tedious tasks. There were three of us, each doing 127 things a day. So, one afternoon, as I was stuck in Nashville traffic on my fifth trip to the post office, and in a moment of fatigue induced delirium, I started fantasizing about ways to escape the stress. It began to occur to me that maybe I’d hit the proverbial wall when I began internally debating which was preferable and decided that taking care of myself would require less effort and expense than the whole tedious fake-your-own death thing. The next week, we hired our first employee. The lesson — — know when you need help and take concrete steps to make it happen.
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?
You mean the one where I was so tired that I rubbed tincture on my face thinking it was face serum and my partner Kelly looked across that table and commented how strange my complexion looked??
We laughed so damn hard. Sometimes we try so hard to be on top of everything! Of course this was after we had been traveling nonstop. The lesson learned — look at labels!!!
Do you have a funny story about how someone you knew reacted when they first heard you were getting into the cannabis industry?
In early 2014, I went to see my brother-in-law, who was about to retire as one of the state’s best-known start-up advisors and told him I wanted to bring medical cannabis to Tennessee. I wanted to be vertically integrated (grow, process, retail). He howled, saying, “So, while all our friends are retiring, playing golf and settling in at the end of the day with a couple of martinis, you’ve now decided to become a dealer!” I laughed then explained how profoundly a steady stream of “marijuana brownies” cooked by a friend had eased my sister’s suffering at the end of her life. I told him that something with the power to alleviate both pain and anxiety was a gift and shouldn’t have to be acquired in the shadows. By the time that conversation was over, he was on board to help. I will admit that everyone from my hometown, down here in the Bible Belt, thought it hilarious in the extreme.
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?
Definitely, my husband Bill. Whether it was driving ten hours in the middle of the night to pick up packaging or helping me think through difficult decisions, he was both an invaluable advisor and the doer of things too tedious to ask anyone else. Other than the occasional eye-roll, he was always happy to help. Of course, my family also stepped in whenever they saw me huddled on the ledge — to softly encourage me to come back down and try again tomorrow. Being an entrepreneur is hard — being the family of an entrepreneur is much harder.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
The Good Patch has recently made its way into children’s wellness through the announcement of our Nite Owl patch. It’s an adorable owl shaped patch with only three natural ingredients, and is a perfect addition to the bedtime routine. Although this patch does not contain any CBD, we’re excited to expand to areas of wellness for people of all ages, especially during this time when self-care is so important.
Despite great progress that has been made we still have a lot more work to do to achieve gender parity in this industry. According to this report in Entrepreneur, less than 25 percent of cannabis businesses are run by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a) individuals b) companies and/or c) society to support greater gender parity moving forward?
We’re doing our part to offset those depressing numbers. Women outnumber men in every level of our company, two of the three founders are women, and we’ve recently brought on another women to help lead the business forward, which makes sense because our products are geared towards women. I confess to being baffled by the fact that neither our competitors nor their investors seem to have read the studies that show female run start-ups routinely outperform companies run by men.
You are a “Cannabis Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the cannabis industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each.
- READ, READ, READ — new information is coming out every day about some study or some company that is being innovative in their products. Because this industry is so new, it behooves all of us to let everyone in on what works and how. We need to come together to share information — to build the knowledge base. Don’t hoard information for fear of losing a monetary advantage when it will benefit a large portion of patients.
- Don’t do it just for the money.
- Cannabis should be used for wellness — it is not a drug.
- Respect those who came before and built/legitimized the industry.
- Leave your ego at the door.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the cannabis industry?
We are in the infancy of this industry. I think we are a lifetime away from learning all the wonderful things this plant can offer. What excites me are all the studies that huge institutions and large companies are doing to move the needle on how this plant can be used on curing or mitigating all diseases. Cannabis can treat mind, body, and spirit in so many different ways. It is a wellness industry not a vice industry.
All the cool new products that are coming out and different delivery systems are exciting.
Improved quality of life for people has always been a big motivation for me. I hope to see the realization/legalization of cannabis as a wellness product in my lifetime.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?
Like many, I’m frustrated there are still no rules and regulations for the industry. Companies like ours are heavily invested in creating and adhering to our own “Best Practices”. But the lack of regulation or even guidelines means that bad actors, only interested in lining their pockets, are using poor ingredients (sourced from other countries with no COA’s), utilizing questionable manufacturing practices and making unverifiable claims. This may ultimately damage the public’s trust in the industry if it’s not dealt with. For an industry trying to escape its once seedy reputation, it’s all the more important that the highest standards are enshrined and enforced.
What are your thoughts about federal legalization of cannabis? If you could speak to your Senator, what would be your most persuasive argument regarding why they should or should not pursue federal legalization?
My senator would tell you that I was beyond relentless when it came to getting medical marijuana legalized. I personally hired a lobbyist and helped to coordinate a trip to Colorado so the senators could see firsthand how a grow, dispensary and retail should be professionally run. They were impressed and even bought product, but not enough lawmakers were convinced and ultimately voted against legalizing medical cannabis for Tennessee.
Today, cigarettes are legal, but they are heavily regulated, highly taxed, and they are somewhat socially marginalized. Would you like cannabis to have a similar status to cigarettes or different? Can you explain?
I would like for the stigma to go away with all regards to cannabis. It is a plant. A natural plant that alleviates suffering of all kinds.
If something is not good for you it is a “vice” = Alcohol/alcoholism, cigarettes/cancers etc…they should be taxed and regulated heavily. Cannabis is not a vice, but is treated as such.
In other states it is being heavily taxed and regulated. In California for example the taxes/regulations are so heavy that businesses have a hard time competing with the black market, and that’s not good for anyone.
Over time the pendulum will (hopefully) swing back towards less taxation.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I was a Junior tennis player in the 70’s and 80’s.
One quote that I keep close. In the women’s locker room at Wimbledon above the doorway before going out to Center court reads two lines from Rudyard Kipling’s IF:
….”IF YOU CAN MEET WITH TRIUMPH AND DISASTER…
AND TREAT THOSE TWO IMPOSTORS JUST THE SAME”….
“For a tennis player, the stoic lines suggest that winning — even winning a major tournament like Wimbledon — must be kept in perspective. And a loss?
Learn from it and move on.”
I try to remember those lines every day and apply them to all aspects of my life.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I am a devoted advocate for the Last Prisoner Project which says,
“We believe that anyone profiting from or freely engaging in the legal cannabis industry has a moral imperative to work towards restorative justice. No one should remain incarcerated or continue to suffer the collateral consequences of prohibition and the War on Drugs which has and continues to disproportionately impact communities of color.”
This logical and long overdue movement has already been established and I’m convinced it represents the greatest opportunity to bring about the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people.