Sports Cannabis Interviews

Greta Gaines

Pioneer, Legend and Advocate, Greta Gaines joins Sports Cannabis to chat about her athletic career, pivot into the cannabis industry, advocacy work and companies she's brought to life.

E. 23//



Greta Gaines continues to lead the Cannabis movement, advocating for the plant on a number of platforms as well as pushing for normalization. In 1992 Greta was the only female participant in the first world extreme snowboarding championship and became the face of the sport which at the time was dominated by men. 

A former competitive skier, with a fearless ethos, today she’s changing the Cannabis Landscape, advocating for education, an even playing field and is the Co-Founder / CEO of Love + Hemp , a CBD Beauty Company.

We had the unique opportunity to connect with Greta to chat about  to connect with Greta Gaines to learn more about her athletic career, pivot into cannabis, advocacy work and companies she’s brought to life.  

E.23//

GETA GAINES

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INTERVIEW :

Guest :
Greta Gaines

Interview / Production / Host :
Jay Morzaria | Sports Cannabis

Jay :

There are a few pioneers in a game moving the needle forward, constantly at the forefront and paving the path for others. Today we have an opportunity to connect with an absolute legend, an advocate, a retired professional snowboarder and entrepreneur, Greta Gaines.

It’s fantastic to have you on sports, cannabis. How are you keeping and where are you joining us from today?

Greta :

Hi, Jay. I’m joining you from Nashville, Tennessee, keeping well, thanks for asking and today’s a beautiful sunny day.

Jay :

I’m excited to connect with you to talk all things cannabis, your movement, the work that you’ve taken on alongside Love + Hemp. But before we take a deep dive into cannabis, the journey all started with your love and passion for sports. You’re a former competitive skier and the face of snowboarding for a while, which (at the time) was a sport dominated by men.

What was it about skiing and snowboarding that ultimately pushed you to make a career out of it?

Greta :

Well, I grew up with my parents and they were Southern. My dad had this idea in his mind about teaching himself to ski and having all three of his kids ski. So we moved to New Hampshire around 1969. As a baby, I grew up on the hill, and my dad taught us to ski at a very young age. I had a really good ski coach at Lake Sunapee when I was only eight years old, but I wasn’t the greatest ski racer. I didn’t really like going that fast on the skis, but I love skiing and continued to pursue it.

The game changing event was when my little brother Shelby, who was a really good 12 year old skie, won our little Regional New Hampshire, Ski competition. He went to Stratton Mountain School in Vermont, growing up in New Hampshire they’ll let you take a term off if you’re a good ski racer and use the winters to race.

Jay :

Wow.

Greta :

We did that at Stratton with my uncle Don Burke, who’s no longer with us, he was the headmaster at the time, so we always had somebody looking out. When I was a 12 years old, Jake Burton Carpenter was at that mountain with prototype snowboards and my little brother was lucky enough to take them home.

We had the very original Burton snowboards from 1982, and would practicing snowboarding in our yard, (because we lived on a hill). We were skiing, just for fun as well as teaching ourselves how to snowboard. It wasn’t until I graduated from Georgetown in 1989 and moved to Wyoming with my boyfriend at the time, (who was an NCAA slalom racing champion), that I really started getting into snowboarding. We got out there and he was just off skiing all day, and I had no-one to ski with, and there was just so much powder.

I was an East Coast skier so I didn’t really know what to do with this much snow. I had my older brother Latham send me one of his old Burton snowboards and taught myself that winter of 1989 in the back country on the hill, how to snowboard. It was so I could literally keep up with the skiers. I think the reason I got so good so fast is because I didn’t really turn much once I got off the lift. I would just go as fast without many turns just so I would have some people to ride with. So I got fast and and kept getting faster.

Jay :

And you were hooked…

Greta Gaines :

I was totally hooked. It was a completely different feeling from ski racing. I always felt constrained by ski racing. I felt that snowboarding was my true calling and I felt completely liberated by it. After two seasons I was better as a snowboarder than I’d ever been as a skier.

Jay :

We’ve had the opportunity to speak with other cannabis advocates and legends and they share similar stories to yours.

How prevalent was the scene (of cannabis) when you were competing -And how were you ultimately introduced to cannabis, was it for athletics, or was it more of a personal relationship prior?

Greta :

“I went to a small and kind of intense little public high school in New Hampshire. I was only there for two years. I end up going to boarding school and at that time in the parking lot, there were a lot of ski racers and jumpers – all the wild child’s at the school. We smoked pot every day at the high school in the back or in the bathroom, and it was totally recreational. We just liked it and we liked getting away with stuff. I always preferred it to drinking, I could never really handle drinking much.

I didn’t realize until years later that my quote on quote, recreational use was helping. I’d always been very sensitive and had a highly tuned nervous system, I was prone towards anxiousness, anxiety and stuff like that. Now I understand that even though I thought I was just doing it for fun, and it was all in the snowboarding scene, like when we were in Alaska, we would literally do huge bomb hits and get into the helicopter to go take our runs, there was a medical application to it. It’s just crazy, now that I think about it, but it made sense at the time. I think that we were self medicating to help us forget that this is really scary. I mean, when we got up there (to the top of the mountain), we had already watched a famous film of a skier tumbling from the top of a hill in a red jumpsuit, all the way to the bottom breaking his legs and more. We knew how much of a deathtrap the back country of Alaska could be, and I think it was just part of trying to deal with some of that fear.

Jay :

I can only imagine…- A lot of other elite athletes have also allude to the same thing, that there is an enormous amount of anxiety and pressure that is surrounding the entire game, whether it’s to be on the field, getting down the slope, or whatever it may be. There’s a pressure that’s there to perform at your best

Where did you find cannabis really helped you as an athlete?

Greta :

I have to say, early on, I don’t think it helped me as an athlete, because I wouldn’t do it before serious runs and I still don’t. At my age, with my injuries and stuff, I don’t think it’s a good idea to be too high when I’m snowboarding. Later in night, afterwards, after the hot tub, settle down it’s fine. Drinking is not a good mix for any athletes, especially for extreme sports athlete, because let’s face it, a lot of people who are in extreme sports tend to have fairly extreme personalities. Especially in the early days of snowboarding, everybody was showing off for everybody else, everybody had a huge ego, and drinking is just not good. You’re at altitude a lot of the time and you can’t get up at 6:30AM and be at your best, go jump off a 50 foot cliff with a hangover. That’s a terrible idea. So, it was kind of preferred, not to say that we didn’t drink or a lot of those guys didn’t drink. But, I think it was helping, I think it was helping us forget some of the stresses and strains of how present you have to be to perform at peak level. When you’re an extreme athlete, you have to literally be in the moment and if you come out of that moment, it can have dire consequences. So I think, you know, at the end of the day, and afterwards, it was just really therapeutic. We weren’t really rubbing it on his savs or taking tinctures or any of that stuff. We didn’t really have any of that stuff available.

Jay :

It helped with the adrenaline rush, it must have calmed you guys down and it provided some ample sleep to, like you alluded to; recover and then get up the next day and go again.

Greta :

Right it rebalanced that endocannabinoid system, which we now understand that it will bring balance back wherever it’s out of balance. It was definitely around in the early days of snowboarding, which was so crazy, when Ross got busted, because it’s not a performance enhancing drug. Cannabis is not in any way. It can make it harder sometimes to do things, but in the case of snowboarding, everybody was just sort of leaning into it, I think to help to regain their equilibrium from what could have been a pretty stressful, high adrenaline intense day out on the mountain.

GRETA GAINES – Photo Session, Nashville – 11.19.20 Photograph by Alan MESSER | http://www.alanmesser.com

Jay :

I’ve noticed that for a lot of extreme pro athletes that are snowboarding, in the mountains, biking, wakeboarding, whatever it may be, cannabis seems to be the preferred modality primarily because as you mentioned earlier, it’s cleaner, it does activate certain receptors that help with relieving inflammation or providing optimal sleep, which is at your level of something that is needed and is really what athletes are putting a premium on today. You know, when we look at the cannabis landscape, it’s really come full circle.

I was wondering how has it been like to witness the movement from where you saw it, when you were training to today, and more importantly, be a part of that conversation which you’ve help foster?

Greta :

“I think it’s like being involved in any civil rights movement, you know, whether it’s for gay marriage, or black lives matter, when you’re involved with something bigger than yourself, and you know that you’re on the right side of history. It’s a really profound way to spend your time, you know, and it makes me happy to be able to contribute in my small way to civil liberties for Americans. I think we’ve been stripped of a lot of things, and we didn’t even know we were stripped of them. In 1937, if we step back to when marijuana essentially became illegal, as the greatest heist of a US resource in American history. When cannabis was taken out of the pharmacopoeia, and when hemp was removed, we lost one of the very staples that founded our independence, that created America. There would be no America without hemp sales and ropes and everything that allowed us to win Revolutionary War. That’s why during World War Two, they repealed the hemp law and made it legal again. They needed it to fight.

To me the study of cannabis in the United States, this is a study in corruption, both from the civil liberties standpoint, the racist laws that are still prevalent in the United States, but also from corporate greed. From the special interest at the beginning, it was like the top industrialists, right, like Rockefeller, Herse, Ed Slinger and all those guys, So it was just like, you got to keep your eyes open in America, freedom isn’t free, and you have to continue to fight for your freedom.

In this case, I’m really proud to have been part of a successful fight to undo 80 years of propaganda. They did the cannabis plant really, really wrong, and I’m just happy to see HER reputation restored.

Jay :

I couldn’t agree more. The plant has been plagued in societal issues that are not backed up from any data, or scientific reasoning. It’s just been labeled and misconstrued in such a negative light. . We’re apart of this moment and a real opportunity for society, policymakers, athletes and the medical community to create change, and provide a new social identity for cannabis.

Today you’re tackling that conversation in a much larger sense. You’ve also co founded Love + Hemp, a CBD beauty company. Can you give us a sense at a high level what you created with Love + Hemp ?

Greta :

Love + Hemp, I started with my, with my partner Jody Banks, and our designer Luke Everhart because I had already built a company called The Hemperee which I later sold. As I got more into CBD, learned about CBD, I wanted to make something really refined just for the face and the body.

We created it and this is a woman owned company with plant botanicals from Tennessee. Tennessee is one of the best states in the country to grow hemp, it was part of the hemp belt originally, along with Ohio, up to Wisconsin and Kentucky. This is where we used to grow it and so it’s incredible.

I thought that it was time to move away from the hippie organic side of my formulations and work with a really fine formulator here in Tennessee. We are taking it to the next level to make products that I couldn’t find in the marketplace. We first created the serum and it’s a serum toner kits, a cleanser, toner in serum and the 1-2-3 step and then we have a body lotion. When I first created the system, there was nothing else like on the market. There are a lot of serums on there now, but ours is better.


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Jay :

You guys put an emphasis on farm to face a new approach. I’m very curious, what does that mean? You know, for someone that isn’t educated in this area, they are curious about hemp natural alternative creams.

What What does farm to face mean?

Greta :

“To me, I coined that term, it means the same way that you eat at a fancy restaurant and it’s farm to table and they can tell you where the organic chickens from and they can tell you where the beets were grown and everything else. What it means to me is that you don’t put anything on your face that you wouldn’t put in your body and women don’t understand. They are great for men and women. Anybody can use the products, but it’s kind of geared towards a certain mature woman who might be putting creams and stuff on her face, that have parabens and have phosphates. The chemicals that they use in the majority of skincare actually interrupts a woman’s hormones. So, she might not know that on the largest organ of her body, she’s putting these chemicals which are getting absorbed into the bloodstream, and might even be affecting her menopause.

That’s why it’s so important to have all natural products and why it’s so important to be able to know the source of what you’re putting on your skin. It translates into health and I’m hoping to replace people’s skincare regime, with a more effective product, in terms of anti inflammatory, anti aging and just being the most nutritious.

Our formulations are made with a lot of seed oils, and the seed is where all the fats are. I create products that your skin just sucks up because we don’t make these fats and our bodies crave them. It’s the same thing with cannabis. We have an endocannabinoid system and our body craves this. Our body does not crave all the fillers that are in the majority of those $190 eye creams that, you know most most women are putting on every night.

Jay :

We’re speaking about the evolution of cannabis, the new technologies in place that have allowed individuals like yourself, entrepreneurs, like yourself to provide new offerings, new entry points, with the hemp derived oils that you’ve created, and the one thing that you’re constantly preaching and talking about, especially in this conversation is education, education, education, it’s at the forefront.

For some of our listeners, or, you know, female athletes that are potentially listening to today, can you talk a little bit more about why you chose to work with CBD oils, and how they can be great for someone’s skin?

Greta :

Well, first of all, oils themselves interest me, you know, oils are profound in the human experience. If you go back to read passages from the Bible, in early times, the oils were always used in India, when a newborn is born. They would slather the baby in oil. They would anoint people in religious ceremonies with oil. Oils are sort of amazing, and unfortunately in America, we are more used to creams.

So this idea of an oil cleanser, or oil on your face, people think that oils make your skin oilier. But that’s not the case. It’s been fun educationally. I’m a hempatologist and love everything about this plant. I love learning about all different aspects of it. From a kind of a creative standpoint, I just started as a hobbyist, making concoctions by mixing different oils together, using hemp as the primary oil and experimenting as well as learning about it through area data. What are the most nutritious things that you can put on and then just doing my own mini clinical trials. I was really excited by how plants work and how effective they are in treating various ailments. It than became a challenge, can you make something that’s actually going to work on a teenager’s acne? Is it going to replace a cream like cortisone cream or something similar?

Jay :

And these products are thinning your skin and the side effects are long term

Greta :

Exactly. So it became a challenge. It started as a hobby, a creative way just for me to have fun and make stuff for my friends and for my family. Once I got more and more into it, I started having actual clients. Skin is really my kind of specialty and what I love the most. I love the medical side of it, and I love learning about it, I would say that my interest really came from trying to be as healing as healing a force in the universe as I can be.

Jay :

We’re talking about education, how you put a premium on it and really emphasized it throughout your life. The importance behind understanding the plant normalizing the conversation, and how that can really affect change.

Why do you believe having an open and transparent conversation will ultimately push the plant in the right direction throughout the world?

Greta :

Education is really important, because first you have to help destigmatize it and get it legalized in places where people are suffering. People are suffering in Tennessee, we do not have a medical law. People come to me all the time with various critical elements that could be helped. It’s also educating people and letting them know Yeah, it’s not right for everybody in every situation; it’s not good for people under 25. Let’s understand addiction. Let’s separate out the good drugs and the bad drugs. Let’s at least get a law on the books on a federal level that distinguishes marijuana as having some medicinal use, and not being the same as meth or heroin.

So education is important to destigmatize common health beliefs that people are holding on to, because if you can get through those beliefs, then you can change their minds. Then laws can change. At the moment, we have a lot of very conservative people in the state with heavy duty special interests, who are not interested in listening to the science, they don’t care. But you know, when they do care, Jay? They care when they get breast cancer, when they’re going through chemo, they care when their best friend has Crohn’s disease and is suffering people start hearing.”

Jay :

When it hits them comes, it finally becomes real...

Greta :

Yes, it becomes personal, so I just talk a lot and I tell personal stories, and I keep talking because you never know, when you’re going to hit that person on the right day or when you’re going to change their minds. So that’s my philosophy, to help as many people that have questions or help direct people to safe access to the medicine. I’m just like a like a conduit, you know, I help people get the relief that that they need and want, It’s heartbreaking to be in a position when you can see how much something could help someone and your hands are tied. That’s tragic to me.”

GRETA GAINES – Photo Session, Nashville – 11.19.20 Photograph by Alan MESSER | http://www.alanmesser.com

Jay :

You spoke earlier in this interview about cannabis reform law. At the moment, the United States is still a ways behind and with policy changing, there is an opportunity to shift the dialogue and foster that movement and push for equal opportunities that will ultimately allow people from all communities, all colors, all walks of life, to share an even playing field.

What do you think needs to happen to make diversity more than just a buzzword in the cannabis industry?

Greta :

I mean, there aren’t that many times in our lifetimes, our new billion dollar industry comes along. An industry that can actually help people, it’s not like that with sugar or alcohol. It’s an opportunity for anybody of color, or a minority or women or anybody who decides that they want to be an entrepreneur to join. I came in as a CEO, I could never come into any other industry as a CEO, I would never in a million years think that it was even possible for me. having the new industry is going to create jobs and create equal opportunities where people can step in as an entrepreneur that they could never stepped into in finance, or some other really super well established business that’s been controlled by certain, you know, population from the beginning.

This is the green rush. This is the new shit. This is you know, green energy. This is plant based health. This is clean beauty. This is billions of dollars, can open your eyes and see the future and stop holding on to the scraps of the past.

Jay :

We’re talking about a clean slate, we’re talking about how it’s providing a real opportunity for all walks of life to be able to join an industry and move it in the right direction. We’ve also talked about, the injustices, the systematic issues and cannabis crimes that have led to incarcerations. And yet On the flip side, you know, today we’re seeing a lot of different entities being able to move forward within that industry.

Why is it important for us today to correct the injustices from the outset, to ensure that going forward, we’re moving legally in the right direction where we can really take care of our community?

Greta :

Well, one thing is that, you know, the drug conversation and who’s incarcerated and the percentage of people of color in relationship to white people that are incarcerated really exposes deeper injustice in the whole system. It’s important to declassify it or take it out of schedule one on a federal level. It Also important to identify that marijuana offenses, nonviolent marijuana offences should not be in jail. I think I think that the people who pumped up oxy cotton and killed 500,000 Americans, I think those people should be in jail.

But nonviolent offenders should not be in jail because once you become a felon, it changes the world’s relationship to you. So if you remove that, then there’s all these opportunities that are available to somebody in terms of work and all this kind of stuff. It’s really important to identify that it’s not in the same class and that these people should not be in jail, it should not be seen in the same way. There needs to be a difference from being a serious drug dealer or whatever. I just feel like there’s so many scary violent criminals in United States, there’s so many white collar criminals who are doing serious, serious damage...”

Jay :

Is it really unjustified to a point where we’re having individuals serving lifelong sentences over a small possession crime? It makes no sense…

Greta:

I think everybody needs to rethink how we treat drug addiction in the United States. And (ask) are drug addicts getting better? Is there a smarter way to do it, and look at the states in the United States, Washington and Oregon, like California, look at states that are doing a good job with that, and look at their economies, right? There’s a level of it, that has to do with the Human Rights side and writing certain wrongs which needs to be cleaned up. Uncle Sam needs to get out of the way of the free market, and start taxing and regulating something, and using that money to go back into communities. There is a way to use this billion dollar market and have it work much better for so many people.

Jay :


There’s a real opportunity to create social programs that will help educate, help move communities of color into the industry, and even provide funding because for a lot of different individual – that’s a huge barrier, the inability to get funding, and like you’re saying, to be able to lift those barriers, or to even be able to funnel funds into those into those programs could really do wonders.
..

Greta :

Yes & I think the other part of it is part of, you know, we’re talking about the legal side of cannabis and then the medical side, but there’s this whole other side, which is which is green energy, you know, and hemp, biodiesel and using this plant as a new way to power America, which is even the bigger story. To allow clean energies, plant based energies, biodiesel, the technology and stuff that was around when Ford was making, you know, the Ford cars and using hemp plastic, or with Rudolf Diesel you know, was creating the the vegetable based biodiesel, he wanted all those farmers and everybody to be able to power , for very little money by reusing things. We’ve got to start just leaning in the green direction, immediately, and hemp could revolutionize the way that we power America. That would be my next step of the dream for where the plants headed.


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Jay :

In today’s world with so much changing, you’ve really done an incredible job identifying how to tackle key areas, as well as fostering the cannabis movement. We have a real opportunity like you and I have alluded to to shift the perception. For me the focus on the future should be on education, conversation around normalization that is transparent and a focus on social equity.

Where would you like to see the industry in the next two to three years? And what do you believe should be the key focus?

Greta :

I think the key focus, if I was in charge of everything is;

I would educate as many Americans as possible as quickly as possible about and so that they would get really angry and want to do something about it about how have was stolen from them.

Marijuana was stolen from them. Now we have to go state by state and take all these baby steps to try to win something back we used have from the beginning of time. Sometimes you know, if you want to look at the future -you got to study the past. That has been a motivating factor for me, like when I get into situations that maybe are a little bit risky, times I might be scared– I think back on history and the way that we want our freedom and it’s just like fire. It’s like gas in your tank, to keep you motivated to keep you know, fighting forward.

So that’s the first thing – know your past know the history of hemp and cannabis in this country, because it’s fascinating. For the future, I would, and will continue to just make sure that the baby steps were taken in the right time, in the right places, starting with decriminalization. When you start to decriminalize, these are the laws that become the building blocks for the passing of bigger laws, and then building and selling states on the economic model. I mean, people from Colorado come to Tennessee all the time, and we’re able to look at that what they’ve done and what’s worked and what hasn’t worked. We can base our laws on states that have really good economic model, and keep pushing forward for patient rights and civil rights. Encourage entrepreneurs and people who have a fire, like, I don’t work with anybody who’s not passionate about cannabis. You know, in this world, like, I need people to understand it and not be in it just for the money because they see a lot of money signs. That’s one thing to look out for is there’s a ton just like with the gold rush back in the 1800s. There are a lot of a lot of people who come and think that they can come in here, and you know, make a quick buck.

And so pun intended, you know, stick to the roots, and why it’s important work with good people support good people give the little guy or the little girl a chance. Let’s get a new billion dollar industry happening in America in a clean plant based way so that we can start to take on our rivals in the rest of the world, not even rivals, but like just people are kicking our butts and doing it so well with these issues.

Jay :

I agree, I think that it’s the fundamental way to how we will be able to grow the community together. And like you said, you can always tell the moment you speak to someone when they have an affinity and absolute passion for the plant. it goes a long way.

You’ve done a considerable job amplifying the mission for cannabis on several different platforms. Like we’ve talked about, throughout this conversation, you’ve really established yourself as an advocate, you’re an entrepreneur, you’re groundbreaker, you’re a pioneer for cannabis athletes throughout the world.

For individuals listening to us today, if you could offer them one piece of advice – That’s, that’s following your steps into the cannabis industry – what would it be?

My advice for somebody coming into the industry is stay really focused on what their primary passion is. I came into the movement thinking I was more interested in the law and the legal side and all of that and,

My focus shifted to my heart.

And my heart is with patients.

And my heart is with healing. And being a healing force for them.

So lead with your heart, and then look around.

And the wonderful thing about being at the beginning of a huge new industry, is that something hasn’t been done yet.

Something can be done better. Try to find whatever you’re going to do and try to make sure that it’s answering a problem – that it’s a solution to a problem. For instance, when I started my company, the problem for me was that I didn’t see the products that I wanted to use on my face – and I made them. So if you’re out there and you’re getting involved, look around, see who’s doing things, right. Try to figure out where you can get in and add something to the conversation or build on a part of the conversation because there’s so much opportunity out there. It’s the most unlike 10 years ago, you know, when I was just getting going, there wasn’t this opportunity. Now there’s a lot of choice.

Follow your heart, and if you think you’re solving a problem, you’re probably in the right place.”

GRETA GAINES – Photo Session, Nashville – 11.19.20 Photograph by Alan MESSER | http://www.alanmesser.com

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