November 15, 2018 MJ Shareholders
November 15th, 2018
After her home-crafted cannabinoid concentrates helped Constance Finley overcome a life-threatening illness, she went on to become a pioneer in developing top quality, high-dose THC and CBD extractions. Since 2008, Finley has parlayed her proprietary extraction know-how to help thousands of patients with end-stage cancer and other severe conditions. Uncompromising in her approach to product quality and legal compliance, Finley has successfully navigated her company, Constance Therapeutics, through California’s stormy regulatory waters, to national and international prominence. In this interview, she talks about her company’s origins, its globally-expanding business frontiers, and collaborative R&D activities.
AR: What inspired you to start Constance Therapeutics?
CF: In the early 2000’s I was dying from a severe autoimmune condition. Friends recommended that I try cannabis, and in spite of my skepticism, I found that smoking it provided more relief than the 60-plus prescription drugs I had been taking. Because of my delicate condition, smoking wasn’t a sustainable option for me, so I learned how to produce concentrates, focusing on keeping the process pure and toxin-free. And while it was standard practice at the time to use leaf trimmings to make cannabis extractions, I used the premium, cannabinoid- and terpene-rich buds. Working systematically, I developed my own clean extraction system that yielded cannabinoid levels the testing labs had never seen before. During those years, I standardized and professionalized extraction, and became one of the mothers of modern cannabis extraction.
To comply with California’s Proposition 215, in 2008 I started a collective to legally produce cannabis extracts that would help myself and others. In 2014, I established Constance Therapeutics, to develop the business beyond treating local patients, and to protect my proprietary extraction and compounding methodologies.
People often think of cannabis as a commodity, but there is a growing understanding that everything we do, in terms of plant genetics and processing, directly affects the results. Cannabis is so broadly helpful, there are people who are curing themselves from pancreatic cancer with products they get from a dispensary. The problem is, you never really know what you get off the shelf – and studies have shown that a high percentage of these products are tainted with toxins. So if you truly want a clean product that has been targeted and provided relief for thousands of critically ill patients, that is backed up with research and verified outcomes, then you come to us.
AR: How has Constance Therapeutics been able to successfully negotiate California’s new, restrictive regulatory environment?
In order to survive 10 years in this industry, we’ve had to be both incredibly nimble and also stubbornly perseverant. We’ve been absolute sticklers in not breaking any laws – even when there was so much confusion, it was hard to know what not to do.
When the regulations came into California, they were something we wanted and desperately needed. But once that card was played, things kind of went out of control. I have taken some severe hits because of my insistence on staying compliant, but fortunately, I was able to raise enough capital to weather the storm. This past year we were the first company to be licensed in San Francisco, at a time when many other companies were washed out or went back to the black market.
AR: And how is Constance Therapeutics reaching markets outside of California?
CF: One of our foremost challenges was the regulatory bottleneck that prevented us from meeting the tremendous global interest in our THC and CBD products. I now have a company in Canada, which gives me the ability to legally export my products into the EU and elsewhere. I also worked for years with a team of attorneys to develop legal and commercial frameworks for licensing across jurisdictional lines. This includes a reverse-licensing model, where we provide high quality, evidence-based cannabis R&D, manufacturing and distribution for out-of-state companies that want to reach the California market.
AR: You’ve said that R&D is what excites you most. Are you finding time for that?
CF: I love developing high quality, evidence-based products from cannabis. Lately I’ve been getting to work with a whole crop of women entrepreneurs who are well capitalized and brilliant, to develop products for the California marketplace.
AR: And to summarize?
CF: I think mine is an inspiring story, in terms of healthcare but also from an entrepreneurial perspective. Ten years ago I was ill and housebound, and this past year I spoke in 10 different countries. If anyone still believes in the demotivation syndrome associated with cannabis, I’m happy to debunk that myth! There is a secret brotherhood and sisterhood of people who are some of the most accomplished and energetic in the world who use a lot of cannabis.
Abbie Rosner is a writer specializing in crafting profiles of cannabis industry leaders. firstname.lastname@example.org
About Abbie Rosner
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