Despite its amazing benefits to its users, the CBD industry is relatively young and has had some challenges in terms of maintaining the product quality in accordance with medical and legal constraints. Charlie Piermarini, the CEO and Founder of Restorative CBD, believes in doing things right and putting out the best quality product. CBD is a rapidly booming business, and stakeholders should take positive steps to see it move forward. Charlie sees the value of education as a critical component in getting patients and medical professionals on the same boat about what the product can and cannot do. Listen as he joins Tony Frischknecht on the show to talk about his CBD business journey, his passion for CBD education, and getting creative in CBD marketing.
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CBD: How To Do It Right With Charlie Piermarini
I have a great guest. The reason why I have him on is he is in his journey right now. This next gentleman has created a very interesting CBD company. He comes to us in the midst of the building blocks. I hope some of you out there that are still trying to get started and not sure where they’re headed, I want to be able to bring this gentleman’s perspective to you, so that you understand that you don’t always know where you’re headed right out the start. It’s one of those things where you have an idea and it can be scary. It’s intimidating. You have a small idea, but you don’t have a complete roadmap. Some of you out there may not have a roadmap at all. I would hope that some of the information that I’m able to provide and my guest is able to provide will help you either form that roadmap or say, “Maybe I was doing it all wrong. I’ll make a change.” My guest has a Master’s in Science in Physiological and Master’s in Public Health. He started a business. He’s a CEO and Founder of Restorative CBD. He’s also a Chief Medical Advisor at Nirvalla CBD. I would like to introduce you to Charlie Piermarini. Charlie, thank you so much for being on the show. How are you doing?
I’m doing great. Thanks for having me.
You are in the midst of it right now. I tried to lay that out for everyone. Can you help the audience by starting where you were?
The CBD journey, for any of your audience or yourself, you understand it too, it’s not a straight path. It’s very convoluted, up and down. The problem is there is no roadmap for even the companies that are well-established. The big ones seem to have their stuff together but they don’t. The FDA hasn’t given us any guidance. It’s a moving target. Everything from branding to claims to banking, to website and marketing, it’s all learning as you go. That’s what makes the challenges fun. The best part of why we all got into this is because we’re helping people. If you use that as your guiding light and if you continue to make products that are legitimate, you want to educate your customers on how to use and how to get benefit from it, you will be successful.
What was your calling? What was the main thing that you’re like, “I want to be involved in CBD, but I’m not sure what the exact direction I want to head?” What brought you into the industry?
I have a unique story. I’m a Physician Assistant. I’ve been working in Pain Management for four years. I started seeing a lot of patients that utilize CBD products. A lot of them were getting great relief and then a lot of them weren’t getting relief. A lot of them were using products that per the bottle shouldn’t have THC, but they were coming back positive for THC on their drug screens. I saw a lot of riffraff in the industry. Not ever being taught anything about the endocannabinoid system, CBD or any of that stuff in any of the Master’s degrees, I took it upon myself. I started reading published articles and teaching myself everything.
I saw how amazing the endocannabinoid system is and how amazing this plant is. I wanted to get legitimate products into the hands of people. It might not even about products. I have the products, but it’s about education as a medical professional. Educating, not just patients, but educating other medical professionals about this product and about what it can and can’t do. My journey is a little bit different but I think the same as anybody. Everybody that starts in the CBD industry has some type of buy-in on why they started.
Are you telling me you had no experience in the CBD world until not too long ago, right?
That’s correct. About a few years, I was like every other medical professional thinking that this was that stupid marijuana stuff, “You’re using it to get high. You can’t fool me, hippie.” Until I have a specific patient that has Alzheimer’s. She went from being basically couldn’t converse, she didn’t even know my name. The visit was me and her husband talking about her pain to within six months, she remembered my birthday and asking me what I was doing for Christmas. I one day stopped and I was like, “What is going on?” She started talking to me and saying, “I know something’s different and I’m feeling better. My pain is better.” I was like, “What is this?” Her husband said, “We’re using medical marijuana and CBD.” I was like, “What the heck?” That’s when I took it seriously.
I know you’re dealing with a lot of other patients and you’re helping them through the process of what you discussed right there. Can you tell us about the medically-assisted CBD program that you’ve created?
I trademarked that term in late 2018, early 2019 because I wanted patients and not just other medical professionals to understand that the products that they’re getting are backed by a medical professional, it’s lab tested, also that we are all about education. I created two online courses in order for people to educate themselves. I’ve written a book. I’m pushing this education. I want people to understand that these products aren’t just a product. You can buy a product off the shelf, but this is backed by some of them that truly believes in these products and some that truly believes in education behind these products.
Are you working with a patient one-on-one?
Yes. Part of the Medically Assisted Program, and I’m looking at doing telemedicine, if you’re here in Phoenix, sitting down with you and educating you about cannabis, hemp and marijuana. Everybody’s endocannabinoid system is different. I’m trying to help you get the best results for how you’re using these products. Sitting down with you talking about potential contraindications, drug-drug interactions and just coaching you. A lot of these products will work but it depends on expectations of the patient, how they’re taking it and routes of administration. There’s a lot that goes into this. I don’t want to leave people guessing about how to take this, “Am I going to take six gummies or am I drinking the oil? What is it?”When you have to work with CBD, you have to educate yourself because they don’t teach that stuff in school. Click To Tweet
Are there a lot of people in the industry that you feel are taking this CBD seriously as a business and as a health product as well?
It’s starting to clean up a little bit especially with a lot of the published articles coming out about the crap and the dangerous products. It still needs to be cleaned up. A lot of us are waiting for the FDA to come down with some type of ruling. They haven’t given us anything. There are people in here that got into it for legitimate reasons that do want to help people and make a legitimate business. There are other people that are in this green gold rush of, “I’m going to make some money of this. I don’t care what the product is. Whatever the cheapest cost is and I’m going to sell it.” That’s fine because, “The cream always rises to the crop,” as my dad says. They will be flushed out when people start realizing that the crap that they’re selling is not real.
I think the education side of this is we have so much to learn. A lot of this will be helped out when more researches are available. People like you are looking at it as a true medicine for patients. The more people see that, they’re getting an understanding that, “There’s a separation between THC and CBD.” How often do you hear that one?
I always give the story of my mom. My grandfather, her dad was a physician. Back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, he was a hardcore allopathic medicine. She didn’t believe in any of this stuff that I do. I do dry needling. It wasn’t until she hurt her ankle and I was giving her some of my CBD cream and she’s like, “This stuff works.” She starts telling me, “I’m telling all my friends that you’re selling that marijuana cream.” I said, “Mom, you can’t tell people I’m selling marijuana cream. I’m going to lose my medical license here.” She’s like, “It’s what it is.” “This is cannabis and hemp. Hemp is cannabis. This is how things work out.” That’s honestly the best part about this industry is educating the public. Even friends, they’re like, “Give me some of that stuff. I want to feel high.” I said, “You’re not going to get high. That’s not the way this stuff works. If you want that, there are different products out there, but that’s not what mine is.” It is educating and it’s fun because people who come to this industry are either at their last-ditch effort or they’re truly interested in taking their health seriously. They want something alternative rather than popping Percocets.
You shared something that I want to touch on. It’s the fact that you could lose your medical license. How serious is that?
It’s always in the back of my mind. I’m very careful in the claims and the stuff that I do say. I would say I wouldn’t be the low-hanging fruit to lose my medical license. That’s why I’m careful on the products that I’m selling, the things that I talk about and the things that I don’t talk about. I let people read between the lines when I say things. I’m not making claims of pain relief or anything. It’s overall health and wellness.
For physicians out there, physicians’ assistants or doctors that are wanting to find their way into the industry, what type of things you could suggest for them to be careful of when they approved this endeavor?
I tell my colleagues, friends, other physicians or PAs is you have to educate yourself because they don’t teach us this stuff in school. If you don’t understand how you’re using these products, how these products are best used, and what a potential contraindication is and interactions with medications. You’re still held liable. You can’t have the “I didn’t know” clause. You’re supposed to know, which is good and bad. We can’t know everything about everything, but you still got to at least educate yourself to have educated discussions with your patients.
I’ve tried to use that ‘I don’t know’ clause a couple of times in my life. I’ve had some interesting encounters with law enforcement and they don’t take the, “I don’t know.”
If you don’t have your COA with your hemp flower, most people in the industry don’t have the experience to tell a hemp flower versus a marijuana flower. They smell and look the same. You can’t fault the police officer for looking at this and be like, “Those guys got all this marijuana. Arrest them,” and that’s actually hemp. Then the problem is a lot of the bad people or drug dealers are using the fact that hemp is legal and they’re shipping stuff that the COA for hemp, but it’s actually marijuana. This industry is still young. You know this better than anybody else. How long have you been in the cannabis industry? The CBD industry is even younger. It cleans up. It makes more hurdles for everybody else.
There was a large collaboration in Southern Colorado a few years ago. These guys have been growing their THC product on the side and storing hemp product in their warehouse and were shipping that out. Until somebody actually tested it. Like you said, there are bad people in this industry. They’re going to utilize that as a smoke screen while they’re doing other things. I know as it may be tempting for a lot of you out there, understanding that the way the law enforcement looks at you is a big part of this. When you talk to law enforcement or you may have family members, how do they react to you working with CBD and working around this plant?
I don’t think I have encountered any law enforcement. I’ve had some law enforcement people who ask me if they can try the products, and that’s a different conversation. Err on the side of caution always. Have COAs available if your product is in the flower form or vaping. Those people were already fucking up an uphill battle. We need to police ourselves. If you’re seeing these people doing these types of things, you’ve been in the cannabis space for a long time. You know the people that are scrutinizing the rules and it gets expensive. These licenses are expensive to get all the processing down. The people that are skirting the rules and doing another table, those are the ones that hurt everybody. If everyone can band together and say, “This guy is not doing it correctly. He needs to either do it correctly or get out.”
To make the audience out there have a better feeling about this, to know that there are a lot of people out there that are making that decision right now. That’s okay but you’ve got to decide which side you’re going to be on. If you want to make a business out of this in long-term, you can’t have your take into. For those guys out there that are trying to have that decision like, “I want to go legal, but I make more money this way,” that is a dangerous direction to hit. I’ll start with you, Charlie, there were some stuff that I didn’t do that was on the up and up starting on this industry. There was a point where I said, “I can do one or the other. I can’t do both.” I drew a line on the sand because I had too much to lose. Especially for the medical people in the industry or that are looking to get into the industry, understand that as well. There are plenty of doctors that I’ve seen in cannabis that have lost their licenses. It’s because of doing things like this.
I have a different code of ethics, especially being a medical practitioner, I see it even in medicine. People are always going to get caught. You’re going to make money now but at some point, where are you going to put your cash? It’s gotten to the point of where credit card processing companies and banks are accepting cannabis and CBD money. It took weeks and months to figure out, “Where can I put my money? Who is going to process my credit cards?” They’re not going to let every Joe come in here and store their money, “Do you have testing on your products? Are your products legit? Are you making claims on your website?”The CBD industry is a good space for entrepreneurs to be creative because you can’t do traditional marketing. Click To Tweet
There are hurdles but at the end of the day, looking at all the people that lost their income or lost their jobs because they can’t claim any type of shelter from the Federal Government because they weren’t on the up and up. They weren’t able to claim any of the COVID relief stuff. I get it. You don’t want to pay taxes, I hate paying taxes just as much as the next person, but are you paying sales tax every month? It’s a fun industry. It’s a Wild West. It’s definitely different than regular medicine. Would you have thought when you started this industry however many years ago that marijuana dispensers would be considered essential businesses in a pandemic?
I was thinking, “It’s almost been legal in the city of Colorado for almost a decade now. How unbelievable is that?” We’re just a couple of years away. We’ve experienced a lot of obstacles along the way. What’s one of your biggest obstacles that you’ve had to overcome over the last few years?
Credit card processing and finding legitimate bank. You can get a bank account, you can make a shell company that you funnel your money into but all it takes is the bank to crawl your website once and they see mentions of anything. My clinic website, I can’t even advertise it on Facebook because I mentioned CBD on my clinic website, even though I have a separate CBD company. Even though it’s a federally legal substance, it’s convoluted. You’ve got to find more interesting ways of how to advertise using affiliate. You have doctor that are affiliates. I used sponsored athletes on Instagram. If you are an entrepreneur, this is a good space to be in because you can be creative. You have to be creative because you can’t do traditional marketing. I can’t walk into Chase bank and say, “I want a bank account.” They are like, “Okay.”
You’ve worked in the business for a long time. When you go and you’re like, “I can’t get a simple bank account?” “Correct.”
There was a bank around here down the street from my clinic where I had a bank account. I walked in. My LLC, EIN are paid for everything and articles of organization and I said, “l like to open a bank account. I’m on CBD business. Before we even start, do you accept this?” They replied, “We accept you. It’s great. We’ve got to do a tour of your facility to make sure there’s no paraphernalia.” “You are more than welcome to come by right now if you want.” They’re like, “We’ll schedule the meeting next week.” “All right.” The initial deposit and everything up and going. Forty-eight hours later, I had an email. Somebody said, “No, we’re not doing any CBD banking because one person lied about their business and now they do not take any CBD business from now on.” Even though I’m a medical clinic and they said, “Nope.” It’s hurting everybody.
The risks that they have to take on when they bring in anything between CBD or THC is they’re Fed Depository. That’s why they pushed us off for so long. For the audience out there, it’s not like that. It’s not as bad as it used to be.
Not like when you were first starting.
People are on the forms now. When you’re filling out bank forms, they allow you to check, “Are you THC?” and if you check it, you’ve got to know that you’re not going to get accepted. Unless they openly tell you. That’s the only time I’ve seen it work. I think here on the Western side of the country, things are a lot more favorable for us. I talked to some other people that are back East that are dealing with political stuff and banking is still hard. I’m hoping that wave is starting to creep over to them. I can feel it. If you are reading this on the East Coast, please understand that these are variances on where we’re at right now. If you don’t see it, “Those people don’t know what they’re talking about now.” It hasn’t got reached you quite yet. That’s something that’s going to happen very soon. Please keep that in mind. It’s going to get better, I promise. Back to Restorative CBD, you have created some pretty amazing product. It’s working well for you. What have you seen that sets it apart from a lot of the other companies out there? There are many CBDs. You have education, you have everything showing, but what do people say, “This guy has got something than most people?” Is that the education and the product together? Is it the product? How does it all work?
Being in the pain space for a long period of time and I know physiology, I see a lot of people that need higher levels of CBD. My tincture is 3,000 mg. It was a little bit higher. We infused it with some terpenes. Pinene being one of them. Pinene as a terpene is an anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving. That’s why it’s a good mixture and we put CBD in it. It’s a legitimate product first off. I don’t want to bash other products. There are other legitimate people that are doing this. There are big companies that have got big money in this. Gronkowski is a sponsor for CBDMedic or whoever it is. I’m sure they’re using CBD and everything. I tried to formulate something that has 3,000 milligrams of CBD in a tincture. It’s a little bit higher dose and value for your money. I’m trying to provide good products.
When you say value for your money, it’s, “What can I expect to get from my $100 from you?” as to, “What can I get from my $100 from company A, B, C and D?” When you’re out there looking at that, you’ve got to read labels. That messes things up too because people can lie.
One of the biggest grabs I have about CBD industry is how we label things. My bottle of CBD says 3,000 milligrams, but we don’t label other medications similarly. We don’t label the total amount of aspirins, not 100,000 milligrams of aspirin. It’s aspirin per dose or aspirin per pill. That’s one of the biggest grabs that a lot of people don’t understand. When they see 750 milligrams gummies, they are like, “Every gummy is 750 milligrams?” “No. There are 30 of them and they’re 25 milligrams each.” That’s the way the industry is.
That’s growing up. There needs to be some standardizing happening. We’re seeing it in our edibles industry out here in Colorado. It’s across the board now. For recreational, you’re getting 10 milligrams per piece, max up to a 100 milligrams per pack. You’re seeing that consistency along the way. As more markets mature, that’s what we’re starting to see is those standardizations, which will make it much easier for the patient or the user. At the end of the day, they’d be able to tell, “I know what I’m getting now.” I wanted to talk about changing some Arizona law. You were able to get the law changed so that physician assistants were able to prescribe CBD. That seems challenging. How did you start getting on that road? What happened there?
To clarify, we’ve always been able to prescribe CBD. I tried to change the law to get us to be able to recommend full cannabis. I met with a legislator, Pamela Powers Hannley. She is a great cannabis advocate here. I went to the State Capitol a couple of times. They rewrote the law because they didn’t include PAs and NPs in the cannabis recommendation. We changed it. I had twelve Democratic legislators on my side cast two votes and it got killed on a committee by some anti-cannabis people that didn’t want more access to cannabis. At least, I got the law rewritten and it didn’t make it all the way through. At least I made some waves and we’re going to try again. I want the ability to be able to recommend to my patients full cannabis if they’re able to take it. I’m trying to make waves. It’s a great alternative and people nowadays are looking for more natural and alternative medicines rather than taking pills.
I know that it’s tough to change laws. It’s not a surprise that it happened, but it doesn’t sound like it stopped you, from what you’re telling me.
We’re going to try again. The COVID stuff derailed it a little bit. I’m going to try and get the law rewritten and voted back on again, and maybe put on the ballot next time. We’re trying.
One last thing. I love some of the information that you’re sharing. You also have a podcast that you’re starting here. What’s the name of your podcast?
It’s called Medically Assisted CBD, the same as my trademark. I can’t wait to interview you and get your perspective. It’s a mixture of education. I record 5, 10 to 15-minute podcasts about educating certain aspects of the industry. I got one of my doctor friends coming on, one of my mentors, and I have a couple other doctors and some CEOs, lawyers and marketing professionals trying to get a whole overview of the cannabis and specifically the CBD industry.
If people want to reach out to you, what is the best way to contact you?
It’s RestorativeCBD.com. My website has got all my contact information, email and phone number. My full product line is on there. I have uploaded all my videos and podcasts there too.
Charlie, thank you so much for being on. I want to thank the audience for tuning in, and taking a few minutes of your precious time. We know you have many places to get information. I want to be able to provide you with some unique stuff. Hopefully, I’ve done some of that for you. If you have any more questions, please check out PlantProblem.com. Thank you to our readers. This is the reason why I do this. I hope that I can help you so much more in the future. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.
- Restorative CBD
- Nirvalla CBD
- Medically Assisted CBD
About Charlie Piermarini
Since he was young Charlie has had a passion for medicine and people. During the summers while in undergrad at The University of Arizona, he would work as an EMT at a summer camp serving both children and adults with special needs.
Through these life-changing experiences, he knew he had to pursue his passion for medicine. He continued his education and graduated with a master’s degree in Physiology from The Univeristy of Arizona and he was able to publish his thesis paper in the American Journal of Physiology- Heart and Circulatory Physiology.
He then attended Touro University of California where he completed a dual Master’s of Science in Physician Assistant Science (MSPAS) and Public Health (MPH). He moved back to Arizona where he practiced family medicine and then moved into pain management. He also is the founder and CEO of Restorative Care of Arizona, which is a patient centric wellness clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, where they specialize in personalized medicine and taking care of the whole patient.
While practicing pain management, he noticed the increase in use of CBD with his patients. Some were getting benefits and some were positive for THC, indicating inferior products. After years of research and experience he decided to start RestorativeCBD to ensure his patients had quality Hemp based CBD products he could trust. He is a co-author on two publications about CBD that are currently in press waiting to be published. He is also the author of a letter to the editor of The Pain and Therapy Journal regarding the need for more quality CBD products, it can be accessed here.
Throughout his journey, both before medicine and while practicing medicine, he has accumulated different tools and experiences that allow him to give his patients the best care possible. He understands that each patient is different and has their own unique journey of their health care and will require personalized treatments. He understands for a patient to be truly healthy both their physical and psychological health has to be optimized.