Transparency in CBD with Laura Fuentes of Green Roads – Ep12

Transparency can be a distinguishing factor in the success of a CBD company, and is critical for the industry as a whole. This episode’s guest is Laura Fuentes, the CEO, and Co-Founder of Green Roads, one of the top leading CBD companies in the country.

Listen along as Laura speaks of her past in the pharmaceutical field, and shares how transparency and product quality sets Green Roads apart. Laura also explores the potential of incorporating CBD into everyday life, and more!

Insights From The Episode

  • Laura shares about her past as a licensed compound pharmacist, and what led her to co-founding Green Roads.
  • The current popular products Green Road offers, including their CBD with melatonin formulation to aid in sleep.
  • How Green Roads maintains quality control in the making of CBD products, with the help of consistent testing being done at various stages of production.
  • The value of transparency with CBD products, and how this can be especially important for vulnerable consumers.
  • What makes Green Roads successful amongst other CBD companies, as well as how important it is to treat CBD with care.
  • The future Laura sees for the CBD industry, and some upcoming products and research Green Roads is participating in.

Resources & Links From The Episode

Connect With The Guest

About Green Roads

Green Roads has products that are sold in over 10,000 retail locations and is ranked as the largest privately-owned CBD company in the U.S. Green Roads takes pride in its slogan of being “pharmacist formulated”, and is one of the earliest advocates for full-panel, independent lab testing on every product batch. Green Roads has set the gold standard for quality control and consumer transparency and continues to have a focus on helping people.

Episode Transcript

Scott: Hey, what’s going on, everyone. Scott, back with you and welcome to another episode of ”The CBD Guide” podcast. Once again, we have another great one on tap for you today where we’re gonna be talking about really awesome CBD products, the importance of transparency, and a whole lot more. And joining us to help do that is Laura Fuentes, who is the CEO and co-founder of a CBD company you may have heard of. It’s called Green Roads. It’s one of the top CBD companies in the country. Their CBD products are now sold in over 10,000 retail locations. And the company is ranked as the largest privately-owned CBD company in the U.S. according to the Bright Field Research Group.

They have long set the gold standard for quality control and consumer transparency in the CBD industry. And actually, they were one of the earliest advocates for full panel independent lab testing on every product batch. So, if we’re talking about transparency, I couldn’t think of a better guest to have. And as for Laura, she has enjoyed a successful 25-year career as a licensed compound pharmacist before she embarked on her professional journey into the CBD industry and co-founding and being CEO of Green Roads. So, it’s a fascinating story, I’m eager to get started. Laura, thank you for being here and welcome to the show.

Laura: Thank you, Scott, and thank you for that warm introduction. That’s amazing. I appreciate it.

Scott: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, your guys’ success really does speak for itself, but I always like to start at the beginning, Laura, as I mentioned, you had this 25-year career as a licensed compound pharmacist, how did you first really discover CBD and realize it could offer so many potential benefits for people?

Laura: Well, when I first was introduced to CBD, I honestly had no idea that it was gonna offer any benefits. I had no idea what CBD was. A lifelong friend of my brother, you know, I mean, I was working in a pharmacy and I was filling his prescriptions and he had had some addiction issues. And he came one day with CBD and he said, ”What do you know about CBD?” And at the time I knew absolutely nothing. I did the search and I discovered that there was a lot of good research going on in other countries about CBD. And the studies were showing a lot of really good potential.

So, I went and I made some products based on almost anything that I could make in the pharmacy and from there to giving it to friends and family and getting really good results. And the rest is history, started making products and they worked, to be honest with you. They worked and I was surprised, shocked, and bewildered.

Scott: I love it. I love it. So, you kind of went from this, wait, I don’t even know what CBD is to then kind of marching down this road. And speaking of roads, you have Green Roads. What really, I guess, spurred you to co-founded and completely changed your career focus really, and say, okay, I’ve gone from doing some research and discovering some things to now I’m a co-founder of a CBD business?

Laura: Yeah, no, it was a very giant leap of faith. You know, we were getting really good results in a lot of good areas with this product. And it was during the time when there was just a massive opioid crisis going on in the country. And in the pharmacy that I worked in, it was no different. You know, I would see people every day and deteriorating week after week, just, you could tell their addiction was just getting worse and worse and there was just nothing I could do about it.

And so, my partner, Arby Barroso, he was the one that brought the CBD to me. We were able to get him off of the opioids with the CBD, which is incredible. So, from there I said, you know, I really wanna be on the other side of the counter. Western medicine just shouldn’t always be the first choice for everything. And I’m really just happy to now be on the other side of the counter and working more in a plant-based more natural industry and still getting amazing medical type results with patients.

Scott: Absolutely. And I’m really glad you sort of highlighted the opioid crisis because I think that’s one of the things that a lot of folks I’ve talked to, that’s one area that they point out with, you know, the potential benefits of CBD and really wellness lifestyles and natural lifestyles, and kind of getting off of some of the more, you know, the pharmaceutical drugs like there, the opioids and the benefits there. So for you, it seems like you were having firsthand experience seeing this with people coming into your pharmacy and so on, and it kind of spurred you to make a change.

Laura: It did. I was really disappointed in the pharmacy profession at the time. It was sad and, you know, I didn’t own the pharmacy. I couldn’t control, you know, who I fill prescriptions for and who I didn’t. So, it was a really difficult decision, but I got the courage. You know, December of 2015 is when I actually left the pharmacy and did Green Roads full-time, because originally I was still, you know, from 2013, till the end of 2015, I was doing both. So, at nights and on weekends, I was working many, many hours to try to get Green Roads up and running. And by the end of December 2015, I was able to leave and do Green Roads full-time and I was petrified, to be honest with you.

Scott: That is something that is not unique to you. I think anybody embarking on such sort of entrepreneurial journey, there’s that fear there of, “What If this doesn’t work out, what am I stepping away from here?” But, you know, you did it and we’re so glad you did because when we talk about Green Roads, I set it at the top. You guys have found so much success, and I wanna talk about some of your products because you have so many different CBD products. I’m curious, Laura, what are some of your most popular or notable, and what do your customers tend to use them for? You know, how do these products really fit into their lifestyles and the things they’re trying to get out of them?

Laura: Well, that’s a big question. There’s a lot of parts to that question. So, you know, during COVID, people were very stressed out and having a lot of sleep issues. So, we came out with sleep products that have melatonin and some of them have CBN in them, which is another cannabinoid that is seeming to get really good results in helping people sleep. And those are really big products for us, our sleep line. And then the topical. You know, for all those people who work out a lot and, you know, everybody seemed to wanna get into shape during COVID. You think it would go the other way around that we got really fat and lazy, but I see people just transform their lives during COVID. So, there was a lot of exercising going on at home, and topicals really helping with those muscle aches and joint pain.

Scott: Absolutely. I mean, that’s something I’ve been experimenting with myself because I’ve got lower back pain stemming from an old hip injury from playing high school volleyball. And, you know, after I get on the elliptical or if I’ve been, you know, moving furniture or whatever I’ve been doing, you know, I’ll have some pain and taking, you know, a quality CBD product and using a topical that way has really, really helped. So that doesn’t surprise me that you’re seeing that kind of thing from your customers.

So, okay. I mean, lots of different benefits here. One of the big things as I kind of was doing my background research and making sure I was prepped here is that people highlight the Green Roads really has this quality to your products. And, you know, unfortunately in the industry, there’s kind of a spectrum. You know you’ve got high-quality products and then, you know, there’s some things out there that aren’t as the best quality so to speak. What are some of the keys to maintaining quality control at every step of your production process to really have these kinds of results of saying, you know, if someone talks about Green Roads, they say, yeah, quality, that jumps to mind?

Laura: Yeah. So, you know, we test everything all along the way. I think that’s really a crucial part of it, but besides that, you know, we make…I’m a pharmacist and I have a team of pharmacists that work with us. So, we make our topicals and our sublingual product specific. You know, we make them so that they get good absorption. We make them so that they get good results. So, that’s the start of it. But then, you know, everything goes to the lab and gets tested. We wanna make sure that there’s nothing in there that we weren’t expecting. We need to make sure that we’re getting what we asked for.

And then after that, we make the product, we’ll make the batch, and we will also again, send it to the lab to make sure that the concentrations are still where they need to be. The milligrams are right on point and that nothing creeps in there, no bacteria and no types of adulterations got into the product. Then after that, we will bottle the product. And again, we will send it to the lab just to make sure that during the bottling process, nothing went wrong. And then we’ll put it in a box and ship it away. But until all that happened, you know, nothing leaves our facility.

Scott: Right. There are checkpoints is what you’re saying across the whole process. I’m curious, Laura, you know, has it been really integral that, you know, you spent 25 years as a pharmacist. Like, is this the kind of thing that every day, some of the knowledge that you picked up over that time really gets applied to the products and the things that you’re doing with Green Roads?

Laura: Yeah, it absolutely does. I think I look at people in a different light. You know, I don’t look at them as customers with just cash in their pockets. You know, I look at them as humans that have problems and issues that need to be solved, and we’re always trying to figure out ways to help them. So, I feel like I just look at people in a different way, and I look at it in a different way, and I have a lot of years, you know, in the pharmacy, seeing what people like and what they don’t like, what works for them, what they’re comfortable with. And I think that has really helped us keep high quality.

Scott: Absolutely. And, you know, as you were saying that I was actually reminded of my grandfather, who was a pharmacist and, you know, he had a small mom and pop pharmacy, and one thing is it was all about the community. And he saw, you know, the same people coming in and helping them fill their scripts and all of this. And really, it seems like you guys have kind of taken that as well when you’re thinking about your products and how can we help individuals not just sell a product to a customer in such a cold, you know, just cash way, right?

Laura: Yeah. Yeah. And it is difficult because, you know, there’s a lot of competition out there, but I always try to remind everybody here, you know, every week we send out testimonials of people that have written us or have called us and told us how these products are changing their lives. So, I always remind my staff, hey, you know, this is why we come to work every day. This is why we work hard. And this is why we make sure we do it right from the beginning because we are really affecting people’s lives. And I would hate for it to be the opposite way that we’re not helping people. There’s still just so much to learn about this product.

Scott: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think one of the keys here and I highlighted it earlier, but I would like to dive into it a bit more is this idea of transparency. It’s something that Green Roads has been known for. As I mentioned, your company was one of the earliest advocates for the full panel, independent lab testing on every product batch. Laura, why is this transparency such a crucial thing not only for your business but for the industry as a whole to really embrace?

Laura: You know, like I just said, it’s so important so that people know what they’re getting, you know what you’re purchasing. And if it doesn’t work, well, what’s in it? Why wasn’t it working? Because there’s just so much potential for this product. But if we’re not transparent of what exactly is in it, then we don’t have a fair shot. We had a little boy that we were treating a long time ago. And his mother wanted him to start taking THC products. It just became illegal in the state at the time.

So, he started taking this THC product that he was getting from one of the places here and he started to deteriorate like pretty quickly. And, you know, we couldn’t out what was wrong with him, what was going on, what happened? And then I said, ”You know what, let’s test this product and see what’s in it.” And it was full of lead.

Scott: Oh my gosh.

Laura: So, this mom is giving this to her little baby thinking that she’s doing the right thing and helping him. And actually, she was just filling him with lead. So, those are the kinds of things that we have to be aware of, you know, not just potency on the CBD, but the other things that could potentially pop up in your product.

Scott: Absolutely. Because these are products that people are using and that just right there highlights…and because, you know, all you need is one story like that. And if someone’s unfamiliar with CBD or related products, then they just think they write it all off and they say, ”Oh yep, that’s all just toxic stuff that I don’t want to put anywhere near my body.”

Laura: Always remember people’s grandmothers take this, people’s children take this. So, you know, there’s really vulnerable community that takes these products and we need to be extra aware of that and make sure the products are what we say they are.

Scott: Absolutely. Taking a step back, you’d mentioned yet, you know, the reality is there’s a lot of competition out there. More and more companies are popping up and creating products and things like that. In this industry, which is seeing so much growth and subsequently, this increase in competition, Green Roads has kind of continued to be this clear leader. For those out there who are inspired to produce CBD products or start a CBD-related business, what have been some of the most notable keys to your success?

Laura: Well, I would say you have to start by knowing what’s going in your product. A lot of these just buy a product from a white label manufacturer and they really don’t know what’s in their product or even how those products are made. Those are just products that they pull off the shelf and they give to everybody. And, you know, in some industries, there’s nothing wrong with that. But in this industry, like I said, you know, grandmas, babies, people take this that are really kind of vulnerable. So, just make sure you know what you’re getting. Go visit the facility. I mean, I don’t think there’s a lot of people out there that are gonna start making their own CBD products unless they have a background and some kind of science background. It’s just, you know, not that easy, but people still think they can do that and that’s a scary thing.

You know, they make it in their kitchen, they make it and they call it you know, a CBD product. It needs to be, you know, with certain standards when you’re manufacturing, GMP certified, and maybe FDA registered labs and those types of things. So, you know, just be careful if you’re gonna start it. And if you’re gonna start getting into the CBD industry, start it with the mindset that you’re here to help people and people who have issues. And it’s like if we run out of something, if we’re out of stock on something, we get so many phone calls, “Oh my God, when are you gonna get this back? I need to have this.” Understand that some people, it’s like medicine to them. So, it’s not just something that you’re buying at the grocery store or 7-Eleven, you know, this is an important part of people’s lives.

Scott: Yeah. You know, there’s this concept of wellness that is across, you know, the spectrum of industries and things like that. And if someone has a CBD product that’s part of their wellness plan, well, if you don’t have that product or if the product’s not great, that can really mess with you know, how you’re feeling, how your day goes, how your lifestyle is, and that stuff matters, right?

Laura: And a lot of people try CBD for the first time and they take it for a couple of weeks and they’re like, “That didn’t do anything for me.” So they stop taking it. Then we get the call, ”Oh my gosh. You know what? I didn’t realize my knee stopped hurting. I didn’t realize that I had this ache here and this pain here and it was helping me relax here.” They don’t realize it because they see effects are so subtle, we’re all so stressed and hyped all the time that we don’t realize when we’re calm. Like you don’t realize when you’re calm and you don’t realize when your need doesn’t hurt, you realize when your need does hurt. You realize when you are stressed out. So, CBD has that effect, but it’s calming and it’s just a more natural effect. So, people don’t realize it’s working in the beginning until they stopped taking it.

Scott: Absolutely. Kind of maybe pursuant to this, what do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions still out there about CBD and how can those who are passionate about CBD maybe clear up those misconceptions?

Laura: I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that I’ll cure-all. It is not a cure-all. It is in my opinion, is the nutrition. You know, it’s something that our body makes. We make our own types of endocannabinoids. We have an endocannabinoid system. Our bodies are made for these products. And just like vitamin D, if you don’t get enough sunshine, you need to supplement your body with vitamin D. Same thing here. If you’re not getting enough phytocannabinoids and your body’s not making enough, then we need to supplement and we need to make sure that we get that.

Scott: So, I think that we were kind of talking about this, but I wanna really put a fine point on it. If someone’s newer to the world of CBD and maybe they’re just unsure or even skeptical about as potential benefits, maybe they’re not even willing to start that first, you know, trying it out and saying, “Well, I don’t think it worked.” What might you say to them to maybe encourage them to explore the products and maybe be more open to the idea of, hey, maybe there’s something here that could help you with your sore knee?

Laura: Yes. Well, you know, we’re really not allowed to make claims. We can’t say anything that it is really used for. I would say, search and look out there and see what it’s for. But just, in general, if you try the product, you will see that, you know, a lot of things in your life will start clearing up. Other people, you know, they don’t have aches and pains anymore. Their stress levels go down. They can speak in public. Like I have a really hard time speaking in public. I have to take CBD before or I can barely talk. But you know, there’s a lot of things that it can do for you that you just don’t realize. And look for a quality product and start taking it. And I think of it like a vitamin. Like you should take this every day. You’re probably deficient because everybody’s deficient because it was taken out of our diet in the 30s. You know, it is what makes our body balance. It gives us homeostasis. So, we all these products.

Scott: I think that says it all right there. I wanna turn our attention to the future, Laura, as we kind of wind down our conversation here. What do you see in the future for the CBD industry as a whole? How might the landscape continue to change in the months and years to come?

Laura: Well, I hope it changes and into an area where, you know, the FDA finally regulates us and gives us a space to roam and we know how to navigate it because right now we don’t know how to navigate the space, we’re sort of guessing, but I see the future, you know like I think of it as nutrition like I said, and I think it should be a vitamin. I think it should be something that people take every day. And if you’re extra stressed or extra tired or whatever, then supplement it with an additional amount. Like sometimes if you’re feeling like you’re getting sick, take extra vitamin C, those kinds of things. That’s where I really feel like this industry should be heading, and this is what we should be concentrating on.

Scott: Absolutely. I think it will go that way. And, you know, you hope that, you know, the regulation can happen and the frameworks can continue to be established to allow for more research and things like that.

Laura: Yeah. We definitely need more research. We’re getting ready to start a couple of studies ourselves here, and I’m really excited about it. It’s taken forever. We’ve been trying to do this for years and just now finally, you know, the universities and places that are ready to start doing research. So, it’s a really exciting time.

Scott: Absolutely. Okay. Last question here, and maybe you were kind of covering that a little bit, but what’s next for Green Roads? Are there any other exciting projects or new products, of course, that you can share that our listeners might find to be interesting?

Laura: We have some products coming out in the next couple of months in a bunch of different areas. I don’t wanna say too much, but, you know, we’re always trying to look for something new and exciting. And I think we hit the nail on the head with these products. And honestly, I’m really excited about doing the research so that I can learn a little bit more about what this plant does and what it can offer. And I think the research is gonna lead us to where we need to be.

Scott: Absolutely. And I think to kind of tie it back to our whole theme here of transparency, that can only help, right, if we have studied and we have data and things like that that you can say, no, no, this is not just anecdotal. Here we go, a study, we did some research on this and this was the result and this is what CBD can do and things like that, right?

Laura: Exactly. Yeah. We know what we can do with it. We know what we shouldn’t do with it. Those are all these things that we need to learn.

Scott: Absolutely. Laura, I wanted to thank you so, so much for joining me on the show today, sharing your story, sharing the Green Roads’ story. You guys are gonna be continuing to be successful, I think. And if folks are listening and let’s say they’re curious about Green Roads, they wanna be there when you get some new products in and things like that, where can they do that? Where should they go?

Laura: Greenroads.com.

Scott: There it is. It’s that simple. Thanks again so much, Laura.

Laura: Thank you. I appreciate the time.

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