We recently connected with Dr. Macsay for this written interview covering the intersection of CBD and other naturopathic medicines, Neurogan‘s specific approach to the CBD industry, the need for more cannabinoid education among consumers, and more!
Ganjapreneur: What is your personal relationship with CBD & cannabis?
Dr. Thomas Macsay: I have been using Cannabis intermittently since I was 15 years old, but I was always intrigued by it and its relationship to countercultures from a young age, so I have quite a long relationship with it. It was definitely the first plant, as it is for many, that really grabbed my curiosity due to its powerful neurological effects. My initial experiences with cannabis opened up my mind to a whole new world of plant possibilities and powers that I was previously aware of but never really had the visceral knowledge of what that meant.
My intermittent relationship has been quite interesting. When I was younger I only smoked with friends during school breaks and holidays, but as I started making my way through college it became a tool that helped me deal with boredom and stress related to school. During the end of my second year of college, I was living in my family’s house with a group of friends who would regularly have many other friends over to smoke cannabis. To make a long story short, I ended up getting arrested after the cops were called one night as I chose to take the blame for all the cannabis and paraphernalia in the house.
I sadly hadn’t even been smoking that night as I was studying for an exam the next day and was waiting to get dinner with my girlfriend at the time. As I sat in the cell I regretted taking the blame as I truly believed I had surely ruined my chances of becoming a doctor or being able to have a successful career that would allow me to live a life of comfort and contentment. Furthermore the fact that I was not a citizen of the country also led to a 7-year immigration case that prevented me from traveling to my home country to see any of my extended family.
For most of those 7 years, I had very little desire to smoke cannabis at all as it would trigger feelings and sensations of panic, paranoia, stress…. all the typical side effects of cannabis consumption. It wasn’t until I was back in medical school and feeling the stress and pressure of pursuing 2 doctorates while working with multiple non-profits and medical associations that I decided to start using cannabis again as a stress reliever. I will proudly say that cannabis helped me immensely when studying daunting and boring subjects, dealing with overwhelming stress while giving me the ability to let go of the thoughts constantly running through my mind.
We live in a hustle and bustle world that is hard not to get caught up in, I believe cannabis can alter the lens we view it through to help relieve some of the burden of the experience that many adults and young adults feel on a day to day basis. After years of consuming cannabis again, I have become more deeply interested in cannabis and its effects in combination with other plant medicines. It has truly been a joy to share and learn more about this powerful plant over this time span.
I can’t say that I have always enjoyed cannabis, but I have always, always deeply respected it as a powerful medicine and healing tool, something that anyone should be able to consume and use if they so choose.
How did you originally get involved in the CBD industry?
I got my start in the CBD industry a few years ago after a lifelong interest in herbal medicine and cannabis. I was approached with opportunities that would allow me to marry a formal medical education with various backgrounds in herbalism and natural therapies. I began work on formulating products for two companies concurrently with one being a cutting edge supplement brand while the other was a traditional herbalism based CBD brand. The former products were developed with the help of a team of pharmacists and doctors working together to produce one of a kind nanotech herbal extract capsules paired with CBD. The latter being a company that I co-founded and managed development, branding, marketing, production, logistics, and sales.
I was extremely motivated to jump into these opportunities headfirst when they were presented to me. Here was a true, so-called door or gateway, through CBD into people’s minds that had previously been closed off to plant-based medicine and alternative therapies. If masses of people were recognizing the powerful effects of a plant-based extract then surely they would understand that plants as a whole offer a plethora of healing qualities and medicinal constituents. This would be an even more likely possibility if CBD and hemp extracts were directly combined with other medicinal plants (we now see tons of companies with combination products)
The companies I worked with made it their mission and vision to offer educational platforms that not only provided safe and efficacious products but also medically relevant educational information about alternative therapies and plant-based medicine directly from a team of doctors passionate about cannabis and holistic medicine. Furthermore, we focused our abilities to provide clinical-grade products made to the highest standards so they could be used as tools by healthcare practitioners.
Throughout the process of helping build and launch these companies, I was able to spend time working and living on hemp farms, in hemp drying facilities, and extraction facilities as well. With a broad overview of the hemp industry, I have begun consulting with a few select companies who align with my mission as a cannabis professional and have also begun working with international clients to provide clinical training and oversight regarding CBD for physicians who are otherwise inexperienced or uneducated on its use as a powerful tool in clinical practice.
How is Neurogan’s product development process influenced by your extensive wellness background?
I have worked with Neurogan to make sure that the information that we put forward regarding our products and their articles/press is medically relevant and accurate. We have worked together to provide simple, yet powerful tools that customers and patients can use to find a safe and effective product while taking the right dose of that product. Together we hope to continue providing information, as well as honest, and transparent articles regarding CBD and other botanical-based medicine. Lastly, we will be working on products that combine herbal medicine and hemp together in unique yet powerful ways that provide an extremely enjoyable end-user experience.
Why does Neurogan choose to use Danish hemp in the production process? Does the team work with local farmers or have a farm in Denmark?
Being a Danish citizen myself, I know firsthand how fertile and lush nature is throughout Denmark. Pristine small family farms dot the countryside connecting small townships throughout much of the country outside of the city centers. Many families have direct ties to the land, and these farms provide much of the food that people in the country eat which keeps things local and fresh. Along with this comes closer ties to the earth and its bounty which means that many people still rely on old folk remedies or medicinal plants that grow in the wild.
The Vikings also have a long history of using hemp for creating rope, clothes, and more which Neurogan decided to continue by tapping into close family ties at these farms in the countryside. Today Neurogan grows the bulk of its hemp on their family farm in Denmark, with every aspect owned and operated by the owners of Neurogan, so that the standards of cultivation can remain high and in line with the quality Neurogan loves to deliver.
Why did the company decide to launch a high-potency CBD line? Can you describe the research and development process that goes into creating new Neurogan products?
Having a high potency line is essential for any company that wants to align with the medicinal and healing qualities of CBD and hemp as a whole, as opposed to companies who are making various products such as energy drinks, candy, and other enticing edibles that do not provide much of a dose or any dose at all for that reason.
Yes, CBD can have great benefits for the casual user, but the people who really need it are those with advanced and complex diseases that may not have any other safe or effective alternative therapies left. For individuals with diseases that require a higher dose of CBD, it is important that they have access to high-potency products at a fair price. Furthermore, many clinicians will require higher doses of CBD or cannabinoids in general as a part of a treatment plan giving Neurogan a place on every doctor’s shelf.
With so many products making false claims, how can a CBD consumer be more knowledgeable and make an educated decision when shopping?
It’s tough being a CBD consumer in today’s market. This is especially true when the highest quality and most renowned products are typically more expensive which will lead some to search for cheaper options.
First and foremost, companies that make explicit claims or offer their products as a potential treatment option for any medical condition shouldn’t be trusted as they are operating outside of their legal scope. Flashy claims are always made to entice the consumer to buy a product that may or may not work for them. These types of products are likely of lower quality and cost less than premium brands in the marketplace.
Education is absolutely essential for individuals who are shopping for CBD products. There are countless online resources that focus only on cannabis and hemp-related education. If the website does not sell any products and provides well-sourced articles, it’s likely a good source of information that is unbiased and free of marketing tactics. Most premium brands will also provide great educational material and transparency when it comes to their operations, processes, and products.
Real CBD companies are legally required to provide testing results on their products. This allows customers to see for themselves if the product they’re getting contains the stated CBD values and is free of impurities. Companies who refuse to share their testing results or do not provide them with a product purchase may have something to hide and should be considered carefully.
Finally, anyone considering CBD or cannabis-based products to treat health problems should consult a primary care physician and/or a cannabis health professional. Health professionals, especially those with a strong understanding of cannabis-based medicine, will be able to direct you towards a reputable product with a dose and form that is appropriate for your needs.
The company recently held a test of 12 CBD products, finding no CBD in any of them. Why did Neurogan use their resources to conduct this research, and what does it say about the ever-expanding CBD market?
Neurogan was hoping to shed light on the fact that there are still many shady and fraudulent companies/individuals who are trying to take advantage of the uninformed customer who is looking to find an affordable product or is maybe buying a hemp/cannabis-based product for the first time and is hoping to find something cheaper. This, unfortunately, is not something new, and there are many shady underground sources of “CBD” or “hemp oil” products on the market that may or may not have any cannabinoids in them. Even worse, these products will have other narcotics or agents added to them to increase the effects experienced by the consumer.
Individuals need to be educated on these facts as they can be harmed by fake products or they may just be throwing their money away. In either case, Neurogan wants to help protect consumers from these types of companies/individuals who sell fake products while also providing information on how to find a proper product and how one can read a chemical analysis to tell if the product actually contains the number of cannabinoids as stated on the label.
Unfortunately, this trend of fake products will likely continue into the future as laws are set in stone and proper oversight from the FDA and DEA shapes up. Until then information is the most powerful weapon that we can provide to individuals in order to prevent them from wasting their money or risking consumption of harmful agents.
How does Neurogan maintain transparency in their product line from seed to sale?
Neurogan seeks to maintain complete transparency through every step of the cultivation process, which is easy for us, because we have a hand in each step.
All of the crops are grown at founder Dan Hamp’s family farm in his home country of Denmark. We love growing outdoor hemp in Denmark because the country’s conditions are perfect from April to October to slow-grow full-spectrum, high-quality CBD in soil free of heavy-metals and harmful pesticides. Once the crops are in full bloom, they are picked and dried over a two-month period before the whole hemp plant is granulated into pellets and sent to the United States.
The team receives the hemp on-site in San Diego, CA and the hemp is incorporated into custom, handmade recipes in our GMP certified facility. All finished products are sent to a third party laboratory and tested for quality before being sold to customers.
As you can see, each step is integral to providing transparency and quality that customers can trust.
Neurogan products have higher doses and are broad-spectrum; how does this benefit the consumer compared to lower dose products? What is the difference between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum?
Full-spectrum products include the full range of cannabinoids; THC, CBD, and over 100 other cannabinoids. Studies have shown that plant extracts that are considered full-spectrum typically have increased benefits and lower dosage with decreased side effects. This happens as a result of the components in the extract interacting with each other and the body’s receptors.
Broad-spectrum extracts are almost identical to full-spectrum extracts except for the fact that they do not contain any THC. This means that a Neurogan’s broad spectrum product still provides much of the synergistic qualities seen with a full-spectrum extract but is just right for those who prefer to avoid THC ingestion at all costs.
By providing a wide and higher range of dosages, Neurogan offers products that will be effective at helping many customers alleviate complaints with targeted dosages at a fair price point. Lower dosed products can still be very expensive and may not have enough CBD to even help customers deal with some of their complaints. These products are typically also isolated or are made with lower quality extracts that can be unsafe or completely ineffective for the consumer.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle to educating consumers about the benefits of CBD?
The biggest obstacle to educating the consumer is probably the consumer. People always want a quick fix and they want it cheap, or they want it to be enjoyable to consume. Most of all people want to notice something right away.
Unfortunately, every single individual will react differently to the same dose of CBD consumed at the exact same time in the same setting. This is due to a myriad of reasons including genetics, diet, toxin load, medication use, mood, and so on. This means that some people will feel nothing when they take a high-quality hemp product, while some others may feel extremely “high” at the same dose.
People from both sides of the spectrum may give up on the product right away or may change their dose drastically where it either becomes ineffective or begins causing uncomfortable side effects. This is one of the reasons it is always stressed that individuals should consult their health care professional when beginning any supplements or alternative based treatment therapies.
At the end of the day, education, especially a drastic perspective shift from a typical western medicine mindset to one that takes the perspective of plant-based alternative therapies takes time. People aren’t always patient enough to take the time to educate themselves on a topic that is in itself a vast and still developing topic. This is especially true if said individual did not have a pleasant or noticeable experience their first time around with plant-based medicine.
On top of this, the western medicine mindset continues to push plants out of the picture even though many of the most common drugs are derived from plant constituents, and that the word drug itself was originally used to describe a medicinal plant. There are now thousands upon thousands of articles that prove herbal medicine can be an equal therapeutic agent, and sometimes more effective, compared to many common medications used in clinical practice today.
Without proper acknowledgment of human tendencies and biases, it makes it hard for people to look past these facts and truly begin tapping into plants as medicinal agents. Fortunately, many people do become intrigued by the beneficial effects experienced when taking a CBD product which tends to lead them down a path of education and insight into cannabis as a whole.
Does Neurogan get involved in the local community and economy? How does the company support other entrepreneurs in the space?
As a small family-owned company, Neurogan loves to support other underdogs, and we mean that in a very real sense. Nearly two years ago, we began showing our support for San Diego-based non-profit, The Animal Pad (TAP), who rescues dogs from the streets of San Diego and Mexico. We’ve provided donations, campaigns, and initiatives in support of TAP, alongside featuring their pups on the front of our Neurogan CBD pet treat bags and having nearly 5 employees from our office adopt TAP pooches to date. We’re thrilled by the thought that our premium pet CBD has the potential to help rescue pets feel more at home.
Additionally, with San Diego being such a health and wellness conscious community, we’ve been proud to provide donations and give support to local wellness practitioners and entrepreneurs; from nutritionists, to yoga teachers, to reiki masters, and more. As a brand, we’re focused on providing people with products that can bring them the gift of wellness and in partnering with individuals who are determined to do the same through their services, we know we’re in good company.
As a business, we offer private label products to those looking to start their own CBD businesses and have really enjoyed the business consultancy role this has placed us in, as CBD is a difficult space to get started in. When it comes to our direct customers, we put a lot of our efforts towards educating our community not only when it comes to CBD, but when it comes to the importance of supporting local. We model this by doing the same ourselves and fighting to prompt a shift in thought when it comes to thoughtful consumption on every level.
Thank you, Dr. Macsay, for answering our questions about Neurogan and the state of the CBD marketplace. Visit Neurogan.com to learn more about our guest.