By Steven Hoffman
Charlotte’s Web, founded by the Stanley Brothers, is an industry leader in hemp-derived CBD and cannabinoid supplements and related products. A vertically integrated, publicly traded company (TSX: CWEB) with revenues of $96.1 million in 2021, Charlotte’s Web is the market leader in CBD supplements. With its mission to help families and individuals with CBD products, Charlotte’s Web remains on the vanguard in scientific research and product development.
Recently, Jared Stanley assumed the leadership role of Chief Operating Officer of Charlotte’s Web. With the company since its inception in 2013, Jared has been instrumental in building out the company’s extensive cultivation operations, promoting its products and technology, and in representing the company – and the CBD industry – in legislative and regulatory activities at the state and federal level.
Let’s Talk Hemp recently caught up with Jared Stanley for an in-depth conversation. Read on to learn how under Jared’s and the Stanley Brothers’ leadership, Charlotte’s Web is successfully navigating the uncharted waters of today’s CBD marketplace.
1. QUESTION: When and why did you get into the hemp/cannabis industry? Can you share a bit about the inspiration behind Charlotte Figi and the Stanley Brothers work to develop natural cannabinoid remedies from cannabis?
ANSWER: In 2012, Paige Figi came to us because she’d found research on CBD and we had previously developed a full spectrum hemp extract that was high in CBD and low in THC for cancer patients. At that time, we were operating under Colorado regulations and served nearly 100 cancer patients under the medical marijuana regulations. The same CBD oil was first used for Charlotte. Charlotte’s response to the extract surprised us all. As word spread about her response, more and more people came to us and we realized the potential of this extract. Before we were even a company, we were working to serve the needs of this extremely vulnerable group. Charlotte became our North Star and is still our driving inspiration.
When CNN’s Sanjay Gupta shared Charlotte’s story with his audience, it really was the spark that ignited the start of the CBD industry. That was 9 years ago, and we’re still in a state of innovation and exploration as we study hemp’s minor cannabinoids that you find a full spectrum, whole plant extract. CBN and CBG are two that we’re already working with, and there is still so much to discover. We’re excited about the power and potential of this plant every day.
2. QUESTION: You recently took on a new leadership role at Charlotte’s Web, as that of COO. How has that changed your role in the company and what are some keys to your vision and management style for taking the company forward?
ANSWER: We didn’t start this company to make products, we were simply determined to serve as many people as possible with an extract that held tremendous promise. For many years my focus at the company was on Cultivation and Cultivation R&D because that was one of the most significant ways I could protect our most important assets—our plants. They have been my greatest teachers. And now as COO, I’m able to ensure that all divisions of our company work in harmony to achieve the mission we set out to accomplish years ago, and that we, as a company, continue to work in partnership with the earth. Real growth happens when we approach innovation and operations through the lens of regeneration: for our plants, for our company and for our end consumers. When you look at the art and science of the hemp plant, you see the complexity of its architecture and its compounds working together within human physiology. That intimate relationship was influential in the concept and implementation of all phases of build out at our 137,000 sq. ft. manufacturing plant in Louisville, CO. – The LOFT – which earned USDA certified organic status last fall. The LOFT is a fully optimized, state-of-the-art facility in efficiency and innovation. This is an intensely exciting time for Charlotte’s Web as we look at product innovations using new product delivery mechanisms and begin to add more USDA certified organic seals to the initial 12 SKU’s carrying that seal in our product family.
3. QUESTION: How can Charlotte’s Web’s role as the market brand leader help increase awareness of the benefits of CBD, hemp and cannabis, and how can your brand and business leadership help foster industry growth?
ANSWER: That answer is easy: Education and Research. We invest heavily in education for our partners, consumers, customers and the general public. Our Director of Education, Dr. Jen Palmer ND, has developed a Charlotte’s Web Learning Lab series specifically for educating retailers, and much of this information is offered to anyone visiting our website on our blog. We’ve also hosted dozens of free webinars for B2B partners and the general public.
We also invest in scientific research on CBD, looking most specifically at the safety and efficacy of hemp-derived CBD. In fact, this morning (5/17/22) we announced an industry-sponsored, decentralized CBD safety study conducted by Validcare with 1,061 adults who orally consumed CBD products daily. The studies’ findings twice – with two distinct cohorts – found zero liver toxicity and no serious adverse events. This is data that has already been shared with FDA officials as the FDA had previously requested such evidence. This study, and the numerous others Charlotte’s Web is supporting through our CW Labs science division at University at Buffalo Medical Center in Buffalo, NY, inform us, inform the industry, and most importantly inform the FDA and other policy makers so a federal regulatory framework can finally be instituted in this country.
4. QUESTION: How do we best navigate the regulatory obstacles facing the CBD industry?
ANSWER: Proactively and emphatically. There is no time to rest when it comes to the need for a sensible regulatory framework that protects consumers and the good players in CBD while filtering out the bad players with questionable practices and products. The recent Validcare second cohort safety study (cited above) is the perfect example of cooperative competition to benefit consumers and the industry. It brought together 17 distinct CBD companies to fund two human studies. The findings of both cohorts are now being reported to FDA officials and will also help to inform members of U.S. Congress. We need to continue this type of cooperative funding to support the study of the science of CBD while also advocating for stringent regulations for our industry.
5. QUESTION: What are the opportunities and risk factors facing the industry, and in particular your position as a public company?
ANSWER: The biggest opportunity will come when the FDA and/or U.S. Congress steps up swiftly with a regulatory framework for CBD products to be legally sold as dietary supplements. These federal standards will protect consumers who seek and depend on these wellness products while winnowing out the remaining bad players who skirt safety and quality practices. Federal guidelines will create a national ripple effect, supporting additional research by many more institutions and arming the medical community with more information on integrating cannabinoids into an overall wellness plan.
6. QUESTION: How can companies step up to best practices in the CBD space?
ANSWER: Any CBD company of integrity is embracing best practices of safety and quality assurance testing at every link of its production chain, from seed, to farm, to production, to manufacturing and shipping. Every Charlotte’s Web product has been tested 20+ times from seed to bottle and we make all test and lab results available via QR codes on our website. This is the gold standard the industry should follow, even without regulations in place. Additionally, the work of our Cultivation R&D team lead by Bear Reel is a model to the industry: Charlotte’s Web has to date earned five U. S. hemp patents. We also believe certified organic and regenerative practices are best practices to build healthy soils without synthetic pesticides or nitrogen-based fertilizers.
7. QUESTION: Can you share a bit about your philanthropic work and the organizations you support?
ANSWER: Matthew Lindsey has been with Charlotte’s Web since the very beginning and is our Head of Impact. He spearheaded our B Corp effort, helping to make our company the largest CBD certified B Corp company in the world. Matt is amazing in his work within the community as well — he has sustained productive and meaningful relationships with more than a dozen nonprofits. Our original nonprofit collaboration was with Realm of Caring which started as a support network to serve the 15,000 families on a wait list for our original extract. The Realm of Caring continues to educate on cannabinoid therapies, support scientific research, and advocate for access for consumers everywhere. We also collaborate with nonprofits that align with our company’s core values including High Five’s Foundation, The Adaptive Training Foundation, the Women’s Bean Project, and the 40-Acre Coop, among others. Below is a link to a documentary video we produced in 2021 to honor these vitally important nonprofits. https://www.charlottesweb.com/blog/story/trevon-fergusons-story-high-fives-foundation
8. QUESTION: What are your favorite products and/or attributes of the hemp/cannabis plant?
ANSWER: For me and my brothers that is a bit like asking who is our favorite child is. Our Charlotte’s Web™ Original Formula remains a daily practice for me, and since we have a toddler at home, my wife and I love our Calm and Sleep Gummies when we’re feeling a bit frazzled.
9. QUESTION: Are any of the Stanley Brothers working on or planning to work on any industrial hemp fiber and grain or other aspects of the hemp plant as projects in the future?
ANSWER: My brothers and I don’t really sit still. We remain entrepreneurial, driven by the powers and benefits of botanicals, including hemp but also other plants and fungi. In 2019, Jesse launched RECREATE in Colorado, a line of low THC products for those who want to enjoy cannabis in a low-key way. My brother Jesse leads SB USA Holdings as CEO. My brother Joel, who was really the brains behind Charlotte’s Web and the company’s first CEO, has now founded Ajna Biosciences, focusing on developing pharmaceutical grade botanical psychedelics to address mental and neurological disorders. Ajna is operating under a DEA schedule 1 controlled substance license and is characterizing what will be of the first psilocybin mushroom formulation. Our oldest brother Josh is building a therapeutical sound and plant-based medicine retreat center in Costa Rica. It is a healing grounds all around right next door to world class hot springs and Volcano Arenal. The other brothers are in talents of their own. They range from carpentry work to studying other plant-based medicines. My brothers are the best guys I know, and it amazes me to see them continue pursuing different passions.
10. QUESTION: What legacy would you like to leave for the next generation from your work?
ANSWER: When I think of my kids and the future of our planet for them, it’s important to me to know that I left more than I took by having the greatest impact on others’ lives. This impact is what my family was called to do, but it cannot come from unsustainability. We must give more than we take, and I hope that is the legacy footprint l leave behind with my brothers.
11. QUESTION: What is your favorite hobby and who are your top three favorite bands/musical artists of all time?
ANSWER: My favorite hobby is simply being with family, my sons, my wife, my brothers and sisters, mom and dad. Fishing with Fynn, my 8-year-old and playing Spiderman with Talyn, my two-year-old really top it all. The greatest band of all time is Lord Huron. I have never heard other worldly music combined with lyrics that take a soul through a thousand lives of light, darkness and secrets to the universe. Next is singer songwriter Reed Foehl and Glen Phillips. They are both lyrical geniuses and also some of the best human beings I know. Music means a lot to me, and I pray my sons have the same taste in it as I.
Charlotte’s Web Fast Facts, as of May 2022:
- Current Overall CBD Market Share Position: #1
- Revenues: $96.1M in 2021 vs $95.2 M in 2020
- 2021 Sales Contribution: 65% DTC (e-commerce) and 35% B2B (Retail)
- # of Retail Doors Where Products Are Sold: 23,000+
- # of U.S. Hemp Patents Earned to Date: 5
- # of 3rd Party Scientific Studies on Hemp Currently Supporting: 7+
- Square Footage of new LOFT manufacturing & R & D facility: 136,500
- % of square footage at LOFT manufacturing plant that are USDA certified organic: 100%
- % of farm acres in Wray, CO that are USDA certified organic: 100%
- International Markets Charlotte’s Web is Expanding into: Israel, Canada & UK
- Consumer Brand Perception According to Brightfield Group: #1 Trustworthy, #1 Brand Awareness, & #1 Loyalty
- Market Position in Natural Channel*: #1 and in Food/Drug/Mass Channel: #1**
- Status as a Certified B Corporation: largest CBD B Corp in the world
- #1 Namesake and Inspiration: Charlotte Figi and all of the families who followed
(*) SPINS data (7/21) & (**) Nielson 7/21)
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Steven Hoffman is Managing Director of Compass Natural, providing brand marketing, PR, social media, and strategic business development services to natural, organic, sustainable and hemp/CBD products businesses. Compass Natural serves in PR and programming for NoCo Hemp Expo and Southern Hemp Expo, and Hoffman serves as Editor of the weekly Let’s Talk Hemp Newsletter, published by We are for Better Alternatives. Contact email@example.com.