Although New York legalized recreational cannabis in March 2021, regulators have yet to implement the legislation that will bring the legal market into reality.
But as the first dispensaries are expected to be open for business in late 2022 or early 2023, the New York Office of Cannabis Management has recently issued 162 conditional licenses for hemp farmers to cultivate adult-use cannabis.
This move would allow hemp farmers to grow cannabis destined for adult-use sales just in time to supply the first wave of legal dispensaries.
One of these hemp businesses is Colorado’s Brand Distributing, LLC, now Glenna & Co., a cannabis-based company focused on the manufacturing, distribution, and sales of CBD products.
Based in Rochester, NY, Glenna Colaprete started Colorado's Brand Distributing (CBD), LLC after a trip to Colorado- her husband's home state. Suffering from intense pain, CBD helped Glenna more than anything before. She began to research and development to make safe, great-smelling and tasting CBD products.
“I have a very robust CBD business. We help a ton of people with CBD. Our methodology is to incorporate adult-use cannabis, albeit [a] different and distinct [type of] incorporation. However, [offering] another avenue in the portfolio of products can also help give other choices,” she said.
Colaprete decided to grow recreational cannabis for adult-use businesses while continuing her CBD business. Furthermore, she will continue to pour research and development (R&D) efforts into the cannabis space, an essential component of cannabis cultivation due to the plant’s many medicinal properties.
She told NYSCC that it is exciting to research different strains and growing techniques that can achieve different results.
When asked about what it was like going through the application process for conditional licenses, Colaprete told NYSCC that she had to prepare several reports, including the company's structure, the business description, a planting report, and a pre-and post-harvesting report. But most importantly, she had to ensure her application included everything required by the state.
To understand how Colaprete convinced New York regulators to grant her a conditional cultivation license, we must look at her passion for the cannabis plant and find out why she first started her CBD business.
Before starting her business, Colaprete suffered from chronic pain stemming from severe nerve damage, and she began looking for a holistic solution. Then, while visiting Colorado, CBD came into her life.
“I tried this CBD hemp oil, and it was amazing. It mitigated my pain immediately without altering my brain, which I was looking for. I mean, I don’t smoke. I don’t use marijuana. I’m super sensitive, but I love a full-spectrum CBD that helps my nerve damage,” she said.
Colaprete became interested in everything about cannabis, including the different strains and cannabinoids that can have healing properties for various ailments.
Colaprete’s business then started to manufacture CBD-based products focused on pain mitigation and topical products for inflammation and skin issues, and she later moved into manufacturing CBD products for pets.
“I saw a big surge of people turning to CBD around the Fourth of July because of the fireworks, which stress pets,” she said.
“I have a wide variety of products that appeal to different circumstances that help people in different situations. I started producing tinctures and then moved into topicals, pet products, and beauty and eye creams. It’s really important to try to find different avenues and mediums that work for different people with synergistic compounds. So, it’s really exciting for me to do product development. So I’m always doing R&D,” she said.
Her passion for cannabis R&D brought Colaprete to work alongside researchers and scientists to study the different aspects of the cannabis plant and how to use each one for product development.
“We’ve tried different cannabinoid profiles. Most of our genetics historically came from Colorado and Oregon, and obviously, now we have some more [from] New York, predominantly rich in CBD but also containing CBG,” she said.
“We have a lot of e-commerce, and then we also wholesale it to places like Parkleigh in Rochester and [Midtown]. We support other people launching our business. And then lastly, we have the spa and a boutique store where we have different treatment rooms for facials massages and waxing treatments,” she said.
Colorado’s Brand Distributing’s experience in cultivating hemp over the years brought the company to teach the whole plant cycle to those who want to join the cannabis industry in New York and are seeking licenses as cultivators.
While discussing the issues associated with being a player in the cannabis industry, Colaprete highlights how frustrating the aspects of cannabis banking and marketing are nowadays. She had to register her business as Colorado’s Brand Distributing, hiding the term “CBD” because the inclusion of that term in the title could cause her to encounter issues due to the still-present stigma around cannabis.
“I’m lucky that I have merchant services. I know there are CBD stores that can’t get it, but they have ATMs. So, I’m grateful that we’re accepted and that we are in the banking space, but I’d like to see that same avenue for cannabis,” she said.
Marketing cannabis products has also been challenging for Colaprete, starting even from the logo design of the company’s products.
“There was an intentional factor to separate myself, from the beginning, from the cannabis leaf. I did not intentionally use the leaf in any marketing or logo design to discern and separate that it wasn’t marijuana,” she said.
The stigma around cannabis that Colaprete has experienced with her business is, in fact, similar to the stigma that legacy operators face. That is one reason why she started working with people coming over from the legacy market to help them transition to the legal industry.
“That has become a passion for me, the advocacy and making sure people don’t get left behind and that we create this inclusive, earthy, nontoxic ecosystem here in Rochester and then across the state, and not to mention the economic boost for the taxes that municipalities will collect. Mitigating that stigma and opening up more educational opportunities to research and ancillary businesses to support, whether it’s in graphics, printing, [or] for legal services, taxes,” she said.
Colaprete has many legacy operators enrolled in her educational classes, where they learn how to follow the processes involved in the plant cycle in accordance with the corresponding regulations. For instance, they discuss where they are sourcing from or where to plant, how much planting should be done, how to fill out the relevant reports, how to keep things secure, how to best prevent waste or diversion, how to trace and track inventory, and how to ensure that they cover all aspects of the process from seed to sale.
Colaprete told NYSCC that people who want to start a cannabis-based business must consider several factors involved in running a business that can be difficult to navigate alone. This includes working with people with highly valuable specific skillsets and working alongside lawyers and accountants, as cannabis is still illegal at the federal level and cannabis businesses must meet specific tax requirements.
“Having a good support of professional services around you, like accountants and lawyers and people that can help make sure you maintain [compliance]—whether that’s a great software program, too, for your inventory or your point-of-sale tracking system—is very important,” she said.
Colaprete’s efforts to run a successful CBD company have clearly paid off, as she was recently granted a conditional cultivation license from New York regulators. Her story illustrates the importance of diversification in the cannabis industry, as the cannabis plant can be used for countless purposes that create many specialized sectors.
Learn more about Glenna’s CBD Premium Hemp Extract here.