Playboy Article: Marijuana at a Big-Box Store? Introducing the White-Collar Future of Weed

Playboy feature article by David Devoss Featuring Strainz CEO, Hugh Hempel

Excerpt from story is below and entire article is located here

Marijuana’s medicinal properties attract many executives to the industry, but Hugh Hempel embraced cannabis for a more personal reason. In 2007, his twin daughters, Addison and Cassidy, developed a rare and fatal disease called Niemann-Pick type C. Sometimes referred to as “childhood Alzheimer’s,” the condition is caused by harmful amounts of cholesterol that adversely affect the brain, spleen and liver. Severe seizures are a by-product of the disease. Many of the pharmaceutical drugs available turned the twins into “little zombies,” Hempel says, so he turned to cannabis, which provided the girls relief without the side effects.

A veteran of the tech industry, Hempel sold IBM mainframes in New York before taking a marketing position with Apple. Later, he acquired a large sum of money from a Netscape IPO. He invested his time and some of his fortune to find a medicine that would prolong the lives of his daughters. “When my daughters got sick, I was forced to learn how to make medicine,” he says.

Hempel, 58, is now the CEO of Strainz, a Las Vegas–based developer of medical-marijuana products he co-founded with his wife. Strainz products are sold in Washington, Colorado, and soon Nevada through licensed partnerships with local manufacturers. He buys locally grown strains of marijuana in each state and extracts oil in a process using carbon dioxide or ethanol. After being refined, the oil from several strains is blended and placed in cartridges that can be inserted into a discreetly sized vape pen. Oil also comes in a tincture that can be taken orally. “Today cannabis is my passion, and I couldn’t be happier. I can do well by my family by doing good for society,” says Hempel.

Hugh Hempel, Strainz CEO


In Colorado, a manufacturer produces Hempel’s cannabis oils in a 25,000-square-foot factory a few blocks north of the I-70 freeway running through Denver. Surrounded by a locked wrought-iron fence, the unmarked building is compartmentalized by doors that can be opened only with a key card. Why all the secrecy and security? “Because it’s legally mandated and because at any time we have hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of products in production here,” Hempel explains.

Research by Strainz and similar companies shows that CBD has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties and can achieve measurable success in the treatment of Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder. Cartridges inserted into Strainz vape pens are marketed with THC and CBD in different proportions, so customers can enjoy the medical benefits of CBD without experiencing the high associated with THC. Seven years after their diagnosis, Hempel’s daughters experience less frequent and less intense seizures thanks to orally administered CBD tinctures. It’s a sign of how far the culture has shifted that neither of these users nor their “dealer” is anomalous.




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