The CBD craze has been something of a new-age gold rush with several companies emerging within the space over the past few years alone, although the quality of the product at times has been questionable. Cure Crate, which is both Black and woman-owned, aims to personalize the experience by curating monthly gift boxes that show off an array of CBD products that may address a number of personal needs.
For the uninitiated, CBD is short for Cannabidiol, one of 113 such cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. CBD has been under study since 1940 when it was first discovered but it has become a buzzy item within the cannabis community due to its myriad of reported benefits. Research is still growing in regards to CBD, but it has been used to treat anxiety, pain, cognition, movement disorders, and more. However, science and data are still in development but that hasn’t stopped CBD’s surge into the mainstream. The good thing about CBD? It does not get you “high” like THC does but does have the potential to deliver therapeutic benefits.
Founded by Sean Wynn and Alexandra Mulconnery, Cure Crate helps to take the fuss out of figuring out which CBD products are best for the curious minds out there and provides a number of helpful tips to boot. In the sample box provided to CASSIUS, we were introduced to TheraOne, the makers of the TheraGun massage tool, and their Active and Recover lotions along with the Revive body balm. We used the Activate ahead of a workout and it truly did loosen up the old joints and we applied the Recover afterward and it did the trick.
Also in the box, CBDaF!’s (love the name) full spectrum Tropical Fruit CBD Oil Drops. The drops can be applied under the tongue for quick absorption or applied in your favorite drinks. The taste is truly remarkable and the calming effects of the full spectrum (we’ll explain that another time) oil was present. Another awesome and effective product in our pack was the Sleepy Bear Sour Raspberry Gummies, which also has the cannabinoid CBN, CBD, and melatonin designed to get folks to sleep peacefully and assuredly.
The only item we didn’t try was Zenpup’s Peanut Butter Pork Dog Treats but we’ve heard that CBD is safe for our peppy and happy doggos who might need to take a chill pill or two.
CASSIUS had the pleasure of speaking with Sean Wynn, who shared a bit about the concept of Cure Crate and what they hope to achieve in the years ahead.
CASSIUS (C): Cannabis is still misunderstood despite mounting evidence that it can be used in a variety of therapeutic ways. Was there difficulty in getting Cure Crate visible to those individuals who are wary or skeptical about cannabis?
Cure Crate (CC): People have increasingly become canna-curious over the last decade — especially about CBD and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids. Since the Farm Bill Act of 2018, a ton more people have become open to trying CBD as they feel safe about its legality. That being said, one of the top questions we still get is “will CBD make me high?”
There is still a long way to go to make the information accessible and understandable to everyone who could potentially benefit from plant medicine, and due to the longstanding ban on cannabis research, only limited amounts of quality information exist out there. Cure Crate is an education-first brand, and our willingness to help answer questions and hold customers’ hands along the way has helped those who started out skeptical.
C: One of the best things about Cure Crate is the handy welcome guide. We’ve never seen it in any of our past reviews. What drove that decision?
CC: The welcome guide has been there since the beginning! One of our founders, Alexandra, comes from the world of healthcare and life sciences and did work there on making information readily accessible to patients, including making it personalized, understandable, and even fun. We knew we wanted to carry that through to Cure Crate, as CBD is something that even regular users don’t always know the basics behind, or at least don’t know how to explain it to a friend if they ask.
C: CBD has enjoyed something of a high buzz, but some folks think of it as some form of snake oil. How is Cure Crate aiming to win those folks over?
CC: Present the evidence. The discovery of the endocannabinoid system is still pretty recent, but when someone understands this biological system in their body and how it can become dysregulated, it’s easier to understand where CBD comes in to balance things out.
Having a first-hand experience is also important, but we should remind people that they might not see results right away or with every product. The main function is to bring them back to a steady baseline and prevent further fluctuations. It is not an instant relief anxiety pill or pain reliever that leaves you feeling drowsy. It’s much more akin to drinking water or making sure to regularly eat your vegetables. Cure Crate presents the science in an accessible way, then helps people track effects and try different products so they can monitor results.
C: The cannabis industry has notoriously frozen out Black creators and entrepreneurs but that barrier looks to be lessening over time. What changed in your view? How do Black creators find their way into the cannabis space?
CC: We wouldn’t state that it’s necessarily lessening. It’s better to say that it’s shifting. The slow progress is due to the hard work done by black and brown-led organizations to fight for more inclusivity and eventually equity. We’re still very far from an equitable cannabis industry so the barrier still very much needs to be dismantled.
C: What is the curation process like for Cure Crate items? How does one obtain access for consideration?
CC: In terms of how we curate products for our unique customers, we start with our quiz, which assesses their wellness needs and goals (for example, chronic pain, better sleep, workout recovery), their dietary needs and preferences, lifestyle, and rituals, and experience with CBD. We then use a proprietary algorithm plus expert reviews to match them to over 120+ products in our database.
For example, if someone struggles with sleep and is new to CBD, they’d likely have products curated that in addition to CBD, have ingredients like CBN (another cannabinoid that has a stronger sedation effect), melatonin, lavender, and other herbs that help promote relaxation. If they’re a vegan and hate fruit flavors, then we’d take that into account as well. And since they are newer to CBD, we’d give them a few different basic forms to try out and see what they like best. If someone is more experienced with CBD and looking for help with their workout recovery primarily, we’d curate higher-strength topicals and unique products like nasal sprays.
All the brands we select for our customers to go through a rigorous process. We verify all COAs from every brand to ensure products are tested for potency and the presence of pesticides, heavy metals, and microbials. We also conduct our own testing of products randomly or when we feel a product or brand warrants it. Beyond the product testing, we also conduct a brand review (e.g. website, socials, reviews, referrals from other experts, no “fly by night” brands) and then do a round of internal sampling where every person on our team plus the occasional friend/family tries products out.
We look for brands that either have a wide product line or are known for being experts in their space. We like to work with brands who already have large followings and are well-respected to accelerate our growth and credibility, which also supports us to work with smaller brands who may struggle to meet margins but also want promotion. In particular, we like to bring attention to minority and women-owned/founded/operated brands.
C: Besides CBD, what are some other benefits of hemp that folks should be aware of?
CC: One of our favorite facts about hemp is how sustainable a plant it is and that it has multiple different uses. Hemp is a super-strong fiber that’s easy to grow and can be used to make textiles, other nutritional and beauty products like hemp seeds (great in smoothies), and hemp seed oil (not to be confused with hemp oil, which is sometimes used to refer to CBD oils).
C: How important is it for your business to have a Black creative mind behind it? Can you speak to that significance and what it means for your business and industry?
CC: I think it’s vital. I think my experience working in the entertainment industry allows me to work in a more creative space. It’s crucial that we have Black voices centered in this company at all times. While at the same time fostering a diverse environment where everyone feels welcome.
The legal cannabis industry was built on the backs of Black and brown people and many of them still sit in prison for a plant that others, largely white men, are making billions off of cultivating, processing, and selling. There are so many barriers to getting into this industry (for example, expensive licenses and other regulatory fees) that make it inaccessible to many and we need to actively work to make this industry look more like the people who built it and it serves.
C: Lastly, what are your thoughts on national policies regarding cannabis, most specifically hemp. Will this become a hotter topic ahead of the 2022 election cycle?
CC: Frankly I don’t think there will be enough attention placed on federal decriminalization or legalization of cannabis and the equally important work of expungements and removing other legal hurdles that have stood in the way of the victims of the war on drugs. Looking ahead to 2022, I see the pandemic still playing the largest role, and now foreign relations coming in a close second. I think we’re going to finally begin to see a societal discussion into American exceptionalism and its downfalls. While cannabis is a huge issue I just don’t see it playing the role it deserves with more divisive and satiating topics to discuss for 2022. But everyone needs to register to vote!
Amen to the voting part.
To learn more about Cure Crate, please click here.
Photo: Cure Crate