The CBD Industry During COVID-19
Mr. Pulak Sharma Shares His Outlook
A Pivotal Predicament
As the United States and the world continue this journey through COVID-19, major industries are being forced to reprioritize and shift their strategy. These changes reveal themselves in a variety of ways, from the boom of the delivery industry to the silence of the entertainment industry.
The cannabinoid and hemp industries have not been left out from the impacts of COVID-19, and it has proven to be a pivotal moment for the vast majority of companies. Mr. Pulak Sharma, Co-CEO of Kazmira, spoke on the pivotal predicament that the cannabinoid industry has found itself in amid the coronavirus pandemic. He has a motivating perspective on the state of the industry and what will be important as we move through COVID-19 together.
The coronavirus has been a wake up call in many ways. What are a few things that it has taught you and/or the industry this year?
Mr. Pulak Sharma: “It gets us to understand vulnerability. It gets us to understand that all of us are vulnerable in many more ways than we thought possible. And when that vulnerability is a ghost, it definitely humbles you. It makes you appreciate and be grateful for what you have, and it creates an atmosphere in which inauthenticity doesn’t work.”
Resilience and Adaptation
Mr. Pulak Sharma: “Overall, everybody in the industry has understood that they need to pivot. Everybody seems to be cognizant of the importance of resiliency and is looking to make their organization better.”
“I think resiliency is a very important and often overlooked factor; how a company is able to pivot and adapt to new environments, and slingshot itself in a positive direction is very, very critical. I feel that a lot of our competitors, colleagues and peers have done that quite well.”
A Full Plate for the FDA
Is there anything in the industry that has been held back by the pandemic?
Mr. Pulak Sharma: “It’s a very clear answer. COVID came in and delayed the mindset that the FDA was in. All of a sudden the FDA has to find solutions on how to help the world and the United States deal with a pandemic. They had to pivot into something that was more immediate.”
Do you think [official regulation from the FDA] is going to be this year or next year?
Mr. Pulak Sharma: “My best guess is, and again, this is purely speculative; it will be next year based on what I understand from what I’ve read and seen. We have to be ready for any reality [as the pandemic moves forward].”
Why is CBD an Essential Ingredient?
What are the biggest challenges for the industry right now?
Mr. Pulak Sharma: “The real challenge, I think, is how do you make CBD more of a mainstream item or product, and show its benefits, even when there’s a pandemic going on? Education is a massive part of creating the right story, and that hasn’t been done well in my opinion.”
“How do you create an atmosphere in which CBD can be considered an essential ingredient and be able to potentially help in dealing with stress and anxiety that comes with a pandemic?”
Seeking the Truth
What are your thoughts on misconceptions or misinformation surrounding CBD as a treatment for coronavirus, and how some companies have so quickly jumped onto that narrative?
Mr. Pulak Sharma: At the end of the day, I’m a man of science, and the point of science is to always seek the truth. The goal of science is not to be right, but to find out what is right. I’m not going to say that I have all the answers to whether CBD does or does not help with coping, I’m not in a position to do that. So while I admire the thought process of CBD and coronavirus, there’s a potential there, my answer would be: that’s a great hypothesis – but let’s go seek the truth. Let’s find out if it’s real or not. Pontificating all day long will get us nowhere.
Focusing on Efficiency
What does COVID-19 mean for Kazmira? How has Kazmira pivoted?
Mr. Pulak Sharma: “We’ve had to create the right environment where number one, our people are being taken care of. Obviously all of the shift schedules are rearranged and people are working so they can be socially distant. We have a fairly robust process so we can be very modular in our thinking. In fact, it’s allowed us to be very creative on how to do more with less. The best thing that it’s done is help identify the biggest levers that we can pull to increase throughput or increase efficiency in the plan. That is much more on the operations side.”
Being a Rookie and a Vet at the Same Time
Mr. Pulak Sharma: “On the selling side, again, be creative. How do we get the customers to experience Kazmira when they can’t be here? That’s not easy. How do you show someone a few hundred thousand square foot facility without them seeing it in person?”
“You have to elevate yourself and be psychologically flexible to any reality that is presented to you. You have to have the mindset of being a rookie and a vet at the same time.”
A Hopeful Future
This brief conversation with Mr. Sharma offers insight into what the leaders of today’s cannabinoid industry are thinking. Recognizing vulnerability, actively adapting to the changing environment, improving resiliency, improving efficiency, and getting creative when it comes to solutions are all incredible points of focus during this time. Of course, all of this in addition to remaining authentic and never sacrificing on quality. Now more than ever, people need products that are safe and reliable.
Stay focused on the science, process improvement, and education. Although way may have had a bit of a setback, the cannabinoid industry isn’t going anywhere.