From a young age, Allie Greenstone had known that she wanted to work with cannabis. When, during her college years in Michigan, medical marijuana ended up on the ballot, she printed over a hundred T-shirts that read “Yes to Prop 1” in a kitschy, leafy font. Fittingly, she started her career as a budtender in Denver, while also keeping up with the latest in cultivar and cannabinoid research.
Greenstone’s well-rounded knowledge of and appreciation for cannabis would eventually land her a place at Mary’s Medicinals, where she now works as a brand representative and national educator. The first job speaks for itself, but the second might require a bit of an explanation. In short, Greenstone is responsible for educating the brand’s budtenders and informing its consumers.
The role of educator isn’t exactly common among cannabis companies, many of which prioritize marketing over R&D. But for Mary’s—a Denver-based, female-led business founded in 2013—learning and growing have always been part of the curriculum. Even as the brand expands into uncharted territory, its mission to “distill the wisdom of plants” continues to govern day-to-day operations.
Mary’s Medicinals Presents: Pens and Patches
Bridging the gap between technology and horticulture, Mary’s Medicinals delivered one of the first patented cannabis products in the United States: the transdermal gel pen. The pen, which has been released in CBD, CBN, Indica and Sativa varieties, provides consistent and reliable effects the likes of which—according to consumers, at least—purely recreational cannabis simply cannot offer.
Greenstone and her colleagues would concur, as Mary’s was the first and—to this day—one of regrettably few cannabis brands that tests products at its own locations in addition to third-party research facilities. Armed with its own team of in-house scientists and lab-testing equipment, Mary’s is able to maintain the strictest of quality control guidelines.
That’s good news, especially considering many patrons use Mary’s products to treat or find relief from a variety of physical and mental ailments, ranging from inflammation to anxiety. According to Greenstone, customers have also found success in using Mary’s products with regards to brain fog, motivation, focus, and—on some occasions—specific medical conditions such as ADHD and endometriosis.
Topical Versus Transdermal
Just as, if not more, infamous than the transdermal pens are Mary’s transdermal patches. These patches, which come in similar varieties as the pen, work best when they are applied on veinous parts of the body, such as the top of the foot or the inside of the wrist. Once applied, the effects usually take between 15 and 30 minutes to kick in, and can last up to 12 hours.
One of Greenstone’s tasks as an educator is explaining how these innovative products work. “Nine out of 10 budtenders do not understand the difference between transdermal and topical,” she tells High Times. Whereas topical solutions only affect the surface area of the skin, Mary’s pens and patches go past the epidermis. As a result, their effects not only reach farther, but last longer too.
Another benefit of the patches and pens is that their usage is discreet. They do not require bongs or pipes to be consumed, and customers are able to experience their benefits without first having to fill their living room with smoke. In a way, these products helped cement Mary’s as a brand which is more interested in cannabis’ therapeutic properties than its recreational value.
The Benefits of Having a Regimen
Though the industry gets more saturated with each passing year, Mary’s has been able to separate itself from the competition by presenting itself as the go-to cannabis brand for everyday consumers. Sure, there are many businesses that sell to people who consume some form of cannabis every day. However, Mary’s is the only one that’s been specifically designed for the benefit of this target demographic.
Currently, everyday users are faced with two large problems: tolerance and money. The more often they use cannabis products, the more their tolerance goes up. And the more their tolerance goes up, the larger the quantity of cannabis products they will have to buy. This would be fine, if we lived in a world where cannabis was considered an essential medicine and those who need it received financial support.
Unfortunately, we don’t. While medicinal cannabis has been legalized in a number of states, in general, it is still seen—and treated—as a luxury product, one that tends to come with a hefty price tag. Mary’s aims to solve this issue. Not only are their pens, patches and other creations affordable, but the research-focused environment in which they are developed ensures that your tolerance levels stay constant.
Instead of encouraging customers to buy more products, Mary’s focuses on developing products that provide them with everything they need. “Bioavailability,” is the word that Greenstone keeps coming back to during this part of our discussion, and it refers to the percentage of and rate at which the active ingredients of Mary’s products are absorbed into the bloodstream.
The higher a product’s bioavailability, the more consumers will be able to get out of that product. And the more consumers will be able to get out of a product, the better suited that product will be for long-term use. This is Mary’s ultimate goal—to sell cannabis products that provide a safe, sustainable and predictable experience for people consuming marijuana on a regular basis.
Consequently, Mary’s products work best when they are part of a regimen, rather than on-the-spot treatments for unexpected issues or cravings. “You won’t experience the optimal benefit when you are 10 or 20 days into it,” Greenstone exclaims. “But once you hit that four, six or eight-week mark of regimen usage, you’ll start to notice.”
From Entourage to Ensemble
In a world where so many people use cannabis recreationally or when they are in need of a quick fix, this approach may seem confusing at first. However, the way in which Mary’s products are designed to be used is greatly informed by ongoing research into the mysterious chemical makeup and promising medicinal properties of cannabinoids.
Until recently, there was only one cannabinoid everybody cared about: THC. The letters were used as a major selling point when the first American dispensaries opened their doors, and the letters continue to be plastered over packaging to this day. Back when she was still a budtender, Greenstone recalls how customers would flock to the products with the highest THC percentages, regardless of their quality or potency.
As time went on, companies became more sophisticated and consumers better educated. Different cannabinoids like CBD and CBG arrived at the scene, and they now sell just as well if not slightly better than their older, rowdier brother. Still, a majority of brands seem to stick with just one cannabinoid, emphasizing their presence over the countless chemicals they interact with.
The Future of Mary’s Medicinals
Greenstone refers to this mindset as the “entourage effect.” Google’s dictionary defines an entourage as “a group of people attending or surrounding an important person,” and that’s exactly what these aforementioned cannabis products are. In most cases, THC or CBD is the star of the show, while the terpenes and flavonoids are forced to play second fiddle.
As research into the properties of and interplay between the eighty or so cannabinoids present in marijuana chugs along, Mary’s urges cannabis companies to move away from entourage and towards ensemble. In an ensemble, all active ingredients stand on equal footing, meaning the strength of the whole is derived from the sum of its parts.
Needless to say, the future for Mary’s Medicinals is looking bright. The company just released a sublingual oil called FORMULA, which combines as many as eleven different cannabinoids and terpenes. Greenstone, for her part, is suiting Mary’s products with QR codes that provide consumers with all the information they could ever need on their recent purchases and the ensemble effects they elicit.
Read this story originally published in High Times February 2022 Issue in our archive.