Like many cannabis entrepreneurs who have been in the business for more than a decade, Jimmy Castillo was pulled in because of a family member’s illness.
In 2008, Castillo’s sister, Jenny, was diagnosed with cancer and he began his journey to understand the medical benefits of cannabis. Jenny died in November 2010.
“That lit a fire underneath me,” Castillo says, “and I said to myself that as long as I’m here, I’m going to try to help people and make sure that people can get access to the medicine they need.”
It’s a philosophy he steadfastly maintains today as the founder and chief science officer of Jenny’s Rose, a California-based research-and-development company that already has two patents for extraction technologies.
Castillo and operations manager Mike Martinez spoke with Marijuana Venture about their outlook for Jenny’s Rose and the evolving market of cannabinoid therapy.
Marijuana Venture: What drives your philosophy of wanting to create a product that is affordable for anybody who needs it, rather than prioritizing profit?
Jimmy Castillo: I’m a parent myself, and when I when I first started doing research after my sister passed, I can’t even tell you how many days I’d sit in my office and see a story and just sit there and cry for these parents.
It frustrates me that major companies would have something that’s so valuable to parents and then charge them such a high rate just to appease the board members.
I’ve been doing this a long time, and it doesn’t cost that much to make this medicine, especially when you’re utilizing isolates. It just didn’t sit well with me.
We raised half a million dollars in our first year just for patents, and I’ve been very clear to everybody on my position that just because we’re spending money now on research and development doesn’t mean I want to start taxing patients at the highest rate possible so we can get as much money as we can. That’s not what I want to do. We want to bring in affordable, effective medication that people can take daily and not hurt their budget.
Even if we have to bootstrap it in order to make sure that we can bring affordable care to people, that’s what we’re going to do. And over the past 12 years, I’ve developed relationships with cultivators, with manufacturers, with a lot of different people who believe in what we as a company believe in and are willing to help us accomplish our goals.
MV: What are the patents you’ve already been granted?
Mike Martinez: One is Jimmy’s selective decarboxylation method, and the other is on “the remainder,” what Jimmy talks about in terms of the lipids and other remnant materials that are super medicinal for the human body.
JC: What I’ve done is I developed an extraction process that brings in some of the constituents, the fats and lipids, that allow for the body to absorb it through the intestines.
One of the things we hear is everybody’s racing to try to figure out bioavailability. But the thing about cannabis that we’ve misunderstood is this whole idea of high-potency THC or isolated CBD being the most effective. This isn’t true, because they just don’t absorb into the body efficiently.
What our process does is it maintains the integrity of the the cannabis plant. So if we harvest a CBD plant that is high in other cannabinoids and terpenes, we’re able to keep all that intact.
MV: What does Jenny’s Rose entail as a company right now?
MM: We’re a cannabinoid technology and R&D company, and we will be launching products, either through licensing or our own brands. We’re in conversations in the domestic CBD market and conversations in California for THC, as well as some international countries that are emerging on the hemp or THC side. And we really want to eventually get into some of the medicinal-only states.
MV: Do you feel well-positioned as a company with your ability to license your technology to manufacturers in any state or country, as opposed to a company that would have to build out its own production facilities in order to expand?
MM: We obviously have the SOPs that allow us to license, and we’re very well protected, not just on our intellectual property, but on our contracts and things like that, so that ensures that everyone’s going to do what they say that they are going to do.
In terms of the market itself and how the macro market’s evolving, we talk about this weekly. Each new state that’s coming on on the medical side and each new state that’s coming on on the rec side is an opportunity for us.
Obviously, in business structure, it’s not going to be the easiest thing to do, compared to some other industries. I come from a background in the tech sector where you can launch a product and it can be readily available globally. In this industry, we kind of have to be smart and strategic in launching in every state that we know that we could be sustainable and also have a good reach.
We do want to reach the masses. We do want to scale to that level. But it’s not an easy industry to operate in.
JC: This, for me, has always been a long play. When I got into this, I understood I was an activist at heart. If anything, my goal is just to help people gain access or the knowledge to understand what cannabis and cannabinoids can do for the body.
And I feel that especially in the CBD market, there’s been so much corruption and peddling of inefficient meds that there’s a huge demand for companies that have the ability to provide something that has a high bioavailability that is effective. And I believe that we have that.
MV: Obviously, everybody is familiar at this point with THC and CBD, but are there minor cannabinoids that you’re particularly excited about?
JC: We’ve already started hearing a lot about CBG, and I think this is a very important cannabinoid, mainly because CBG is the precursor to the THC. I feel that CBG is really going to be one of the next powerful cannabinoids to look at and to use in formulations.
But one of the cannabinoids I think is interesting that hasn’t been discussed a lot is CBC, because this cannabinoid, I believe, can actually help balance our own endocannabinoid system and replenish cannabinoids in the body.
And the other one is Delta 8 (delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol). I think this is effective because unlike THC, you don’t have the extreme high effects, but you get a lot of the same benefits that come along with THC.
I’ve realized a lot of people don’t like to get high, but they want that relief. So how do we do that? That’s why I think Delta 8 is going to be something you’re going to see gaining popularity.
MV: What’s next for Jenny’s Rose?
MM: We will be launching some products. Some of our technology will be going through other brands and other regions and territories, and some of them will be through an owned and operated brand, labeled as Jenny’s Rose.
But we want to keep filing patents. We want to keep doing R&D work. We want to keep partnering with contract research organizations. The patent team we’re working with, they’re super geniuses and they’re super excited about everything that’s in Jimmy’s brain, and we just have to take the time to get it out.
Six months from now, we will probably be at the launch point of at least one of our SKUs in one of our territories that we’ve been in conversations with. So next year, 2021, and 2022 is when we’ll start to see a lot more Jenny’s Rose brand and technology on the market.
MV: Do you do believe we’re still at the point where we haven’t even scratched the surface of our knowledge of cannabis?
JC: I think we’re barely on the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much that we don’t know, that we don’t understand, that globally is going to change the way we treat ourselves.
Once that understanding sets in about how powerful cannabinoids and cannabinoid therapy is as a whole, I think we’re going to see some huge things.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.