The Wellness Rengades Podcast

Episode 14: John Friess CEO of Metolius Hemp, Product Growth and CBD Products

In this inspiring episode, we sit down with John Friess, serial entrepreneur, cofounder and CEO of Metolius Hemp. As Co-Founder and CEO of Metolius Hemp Company John and his team of co-founders are working to innovate the industrial hemp industry in a manner like no other company. They were recently awarded the ‘Most Pioneering CBD Company In North America’ supporting their vision and mission around what they deem the EXIT P.A.C.T.

To learn more about EXIT P.A.C.T. visit

In this episode we discuss:

  • Hemp and the future of CBD
  • How farms are decreasing and usage of CBD is going up
  • Why most CBD products are under dosed
  • How ramping production and minimizing quality is not the way to go
  • And how John’s son with autism was helped with CBD

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Link to the Transcript:

Instagram: @WellnessRenegades

Sponsors: JaneAppJane is a HIPAA-compliant, all-in-one practice management software that’s loved by the acupuncture community.

Jane offers online booking, electronic charting, insurance billing, and integrated payments (to name a few) to help make your day-to-day easier. 

To learn more about Jane, visit

John Friess’s Bio:

John Friess is focused on founding and building the marketability, viability and exit ability of idea and emerging stage startups. He has worked with hundreds of startups and is currently the CEO and cofounder of Metolius Hemp

Social Channels and Website:

Website: https://metolius.hemp


Hey, this is Jason Stein and welcome to another episode of the wellness renegade Podcast where we explore the crossroads of wellness entrepreneurs like you and me who are committed to making money while helping others live healthier lives. People are going up against Big Pharma insurance conglomerates and the mainstream medical model. Each episode we journey into the challenges and the breakthroughs it takes to own your own business, pave the path through conventional medicine and truly become a wellness Renegade. Today's episode is sponsored by Jane app. Before we get into the episode, I'd like to take a moment and just thank them. If you don't know Jane, they're HIPAA compliant all in one practice management software that's loved by the acupuncture community. Jane offers online booking electric charting, insurance, billing, integrated payments, and so much more. I could keep reading the script but I can let you know that my Wellness Center and Joseph Oregon uses Jane and so it's not just a pitch. It's a to have you check them out. So if you're really interested check out Jane dot app slash acupuncture hyphen us. It'll be in the show notes so you don't have to worry about that. today. I want to welcome co founder and CEO of Metolius hemp John freeze. Welcome, John.
Thanks, Jason. That intro was good man. Super, thank you.
Thank you. So we have known each other for years you are a serial entrepreneur. And years ago, you started a hemp company and really, it's a little bit of a misnomer because it's a CBD company. Yeah, so is the name Metolius hemp or is it Metolius CBD
Metolius hemp company is the official business entities name. We're playing around with probably changing the name to Metolius wellness with time. But we just thought that utilizing hemp within the name would allow us to market and promote the business. Because hemp as a plant, obviously it's the cannabis plant. But the notion is is that it's predominantly devoid of THC, and is full of cannabinoids, terpenes flavonoids, and so hemp as a category not only allowed us to speak to all of those different elements of the plant, but also candidly for marketing, search engine optimization and for social media to actually be able to post information about our company without getting banned.
Now you just said some big words flavonoids, CBD, I hear CBG I hear CB N and I'm clueless I really like CBD. everybody now knows what CBD is. It's come to the market pain relieving sleeping better. But let's break it down a little bit like What's the origin story of CB D where what How did it happen?
Well, Dr. Rafael out of Israel actually did a couple of things he's now passed. But he is the he is the forefather of all things really cannabis helped discover the endocannabinoid system which is a new and AI and all mammals on earth. It is a it is a biological system within the human body that regulates mood, sleep, anxiety, stress, immune system, etc. Just like many other systems in the body does. However, the only thing that can fill if you will, or support or supplement the endocannabinoid system is cannabinoids. And cannabinoids is just a term it's a it's essentially a chemical that is naturally produced in the plant. And there are a myriad of them. People state there's up to 300 cannabinoids, there's really about 100 in total that are inside the cannabis plant. And they each have different abilities to attach to receptors in your body and have outcomes and impact on your health. When it comes to cannabinoids, which is THC, CBD CBG CBN, all of them that you know the three letter acronyms for and some are for and some are five letter acronyms. All of those cannabinoids are the most available, the most significant in their potency. And there's the largest swath of them in the cannabis plant cannabinoids are in 25 plants on planet Earth. But it would be like saying, Where can I get keratin most readily available in a fruit or vegetable be carrots. And it's like that but imagine a carrot being full of almost every major vitamin, mineral and healthy metal. That's kind of what the cannabis plant is. And that's why it's it's had such amazing an amazing level of impact on the market and on consumers because it houses all of these different elements. And you have to do those right pull out the right one ones putting the right form factor, give it to the right person for the right purpose. And it can be can candidly be life changing.
So it's interesting because I did a little bit of research. And it looks like in 2021, there were about 2000 CBD companies in the United States, and that was down from 3020 20. So 1000 exited, they probably came in it for the money didn't make it left. How many are there in the US now?
They're claiming your numbers are right on the money. It's dropping by about a 30 year. Wow. Not just due to, you know, the pandemic and the current economy, not just the United States, but globally. And you nailed it. I think the vast majority of these founders and companies were launched under the auspices of what they called the Green rush. And it was real. When we, five years ago we started farming separate Company Entity but we were farming, industrial hemp, the cannabis plant less THC. And it looks exactly the same as the cannabis plant. It is the cannabis plant. It's just been genetically over the many, many years not modified like Monsanto, but rather crossbred until it didn't express THC. But we were farming. And when we were farming, Jason, to give you a sense, we started with one farm that we owned about 90% of because we were sharing with the landowner, the move to move to four and move to Seven Farms. We own parts of seven farms here in Central Oregon. We the last year we farmed significantly at 84 acres, and generated $2.4 million in industrial hemp plants that we sold. We got paid on about 1.3 million of those. So people took the crop promise to pay didn't and but the money was real. I mean, you can imagine working from May, until about October, with a team of about nine people and doing a half million in sales. You can imagine the margins are significant. So the greenwash was, was real is real. But with time, you know, like, like you so unfortunately see is farmers take the brunt and of of the financial impact on when it gets commoditized. So it got commoditized there was an overabundance of farmers, there was an overabundance of product. And in the end, the prices went down. And unlike corn and soy and other things, there's not government subsidization. So if you couldn't financially make it work, you had to stop. But then people started launching companies like ours, that produce consumer products. And again, I think in the early days, as you might recall, you pick up a bottle of tincture for 100 to $160. Those are now selling for 50 to $60 to a third of those prices. And you have to actually build a business where you have margin, you have economies of scale, you've got quality product, you've built a brand. Products are actually efficacious. So you know, it's just like anything else. People get all pumped up and excited about AI right now. Previously, they were excited about web three, you know, there's always these trends, where something becomes new and innovative, and a lot of people jump in But
although the interesting thing about CBD is the trend is upward. And so when I look at at my research, it looks like by 2026 There's gonna it's going to be a $16 billion industry. Yeah, it's farms are going down, but the usage is going up.
Yes. And and what's been interesting is when the you know, when it first got legalized under the farm bill in 2014, which is driven by the Obama administration, allowing you and I had to get a license in various states and grow industrial hemp and sell it. Back then it was predominantly you were selling flower, you were literally growing the plant cutting off the flower, which most people know is a bud or nug. And people were selling it as a smokeable item either to be ground up and put into a pre roll or a joint or or category or something along those lines. Were just smoking a pipe or water pipe. But that wasn't really mass market, right? You know, a lot of people aren't like, I'm gonna get out the bomb, taking my CBD. So as the plant was able to get into what they call different byproducts, so an oil that is called distillate it's literally squeezing oil out of the flower, something called isolate, which is when they isolate a particular molecule, and it's in a powder form. So there's all these different byproducts that can now be put into products, whether it be a tincture, a gummy, a smokeable, a lip pouch, some sort of a drink. And so as those byproducts became more readily available, which they weren't at all in the United States, until really around 2017 That really opened it up to mass market, then consumers can be like, I'm not comfortable smoking. But yes, I would chew that gummy to see if it helps me sleep or helps with my anxiety. And now we've got the product suite amongst ourselves and quote unquote, all of our competitors or peers in the space. And, and people are seeing results that are akin to if not better than in many instances what they've received from pharmaceutical or Western medicine. Plus, it's more affordable, plus, they can get it shipped direct to their door. So it's curious
because as you say that it's it's a byproduct, and it's going into everything and makes me think about corn syrup, it's like, is it going to end up in cornflakes that you're gonna have CBD cornflakes.
I could see Kellogg trying to pull that off. But I think that is probably a better definition of greenwashing. than even what we see with the environmental movement and companies associated with with quote unquote environmental causes. What we believe at Metolius is that you cannot which is proven, you cannot overdose on cannabis, including THC, not a single recorded death in human history. But you can underdose and the vast majority of companies are providing infant Assimil levels of of these cannabinoids in their products. So just to give you a sense, and this might be helpful to the listeners, if you go and buy a gummy. I actually saw some a few months back at a convenience store. And they were the Martha Stewart gummies not a negative on Martha. But they were 10 milligrams each JSON per gummy. When you eat a gummy the human system depending on your metabolism and your digestive tract, and its and its overall health will absorb two to 7% of what you eat in regards to a gummy. So that 10 milligrams 7% of that milligram is less than one milligram of CBD, our products have anywhere from 100 to 1600 milligrams of CBD. And the studies now that have been done are showing that an average male like you and I probably needs to 300 milligrams of CBD a day to specifically regulate the system not dissimilar to the daily average that you see on the back of your supplements or on packaging on products that has been tested as what will be effective or efficacious for your system. So how much vitamin C do you need? How much vitamin D, etc. We are seeing the market has under dosed. And that's where we often get the anecdotal and written feedback. Like I've tried CBD three, four or five times nothing ever worked until I tried your product. And I'm not saying
inter so yeah, I'm totally getting it. And this is a little bit of a David versus Goliath, the wellness renegade podcast. And so what do you think this illusion is, is the conglomerates kind of gobble up all the small farms and then kind of reduce the dosage so that they can get their mark their profit margin small but they hit the mass population. To me when I think about Metolius, bend down to corporate headquarters, and you guys are more of a boutique farm. I think you guys are doing a great job with production. I also, I was very surprised you were the first CBD company that I noticed were sending your tests, like all the documentation when a product was purchased, or you're showing it online in a very visible way where if I go to 711, and I buy a CBD, I don't see anything about like, where all the scientists are listing out the report of what they're finding. And so my guess is, in the next couple of years, when we see that upward trend of more people using CBD, it'll be similar to the vitamin kind of disarray of not all vitamins are equal, you can get very high quality vitamins, and you can get vitamins that just pass through the system, and they do nothing for the body. And so how do you as a very small company, continue to educate?
Didn't educate is definitely difficult. We're fortunate that part of our business model, which is very laborious, but amazing in the same respect, doing events. So we we do, we're going to do about 250 event days this year. And by that I just mean these are farmers markets. These are community events. These are health fairs, and we're able to spend countless hours one on one with consumers. And our conversations with them are not dissimilar to this probably not this amount of time this level of in depth prepared questions. But that has been one of the primary ways we've been able to educate Of course, we try to leverage social media, our website, we have a large swath of videos, and we've actually been discussing creating an educational content platform. You know, but the reality is is you In the end, what we have found to be the most powerful is just word of mouth as a form of education. Don't get me wrong. A consumer that uses one of our products may not have all of the data and information to sort of back the science behind the product and the value of of the cannabinoids. However, as you well know, word of mouth is the strongest form of marketing and referrals in the world. And it is your customers advocating and evangelizing on behalf of the impact of your products to others. So that has been a big, big way that we've been able to educate. But I'd like to say one last thing on what you were stating like how do you know if it's David versus Goliath? How do you really differentiate? I think, unfortunately, in today's world, having been in startups for so long, and been working with so many startups, that's almost inevitable that the gulyas will do exactly as you described, they will ramp production, they'll acquire a certain number of companies that will maximize margins that will minimize the quality of the product often that they put out. In order to optimize returns. We're not going to do that as a company. And so I hope and what we are attempting to do is be more like a doctors brought Dr. Bronner's or Burt's Bees. Yeah, like it, or Garden of Life.
Are you guys a B Corp right now,
we're not a B Corp, perhaps with time, there are limitations with us being CBD company. I mean, you're probably aware of almost all of them but can't advertise in anywhere near the same capacity as any other industry, you have to have a specific licensure in your particular state. You there are certain states you can ship to based on certain products, there's just a lot of regulatory elements, including things like getting B Corp status. So with time with time, I mean, man, it's it's improved a lot. But back in the day, you couldn't even get a bank. And how long have you guys been?
What's the opening date?
May 20 2025 2020 20, was when we officially launched Metolius, we had been farming for about two and a half years prior to that, and then launched this new entity retracted from 84 acres with with our prior company down to about two. Because one of the things that you end up finding is you don't need all of these plants when you're not just selling the flower and you take that flower, and you can compress it and get the oil or the isolated molecules out of it. You need dramatically less material to provide the real medicine to consumers.
So here's a question that I often think about is like you have a wellness provider and they go in their bathroom and they make a product and the product is actually really good. How do you scale like how do you scale and not go bankrupt? This is really my question.
I think it's it's insanely difficult to be honest, I think you know, as you know who we're we've partnered with super cube started by large doses, amazing acupuncturist and she provided and created this product. That is a coffee superfood supplement. And you know, she's got a practice in Portland, Oregon has been doing it for the better part of 1516 years and 10 years ago invented this product. It looks like a chocolate mousse as you know you've had it. And inside of it is a series of super high grade organic functional mushrooms, reishi, Turkey Tail, Lion's Mane, etc. Plus organic ghee plus ceremonial cacao, all this stuff. So she was making it for her patients as an adjunct to the care provided at the clinic. And what people were finding is that they were like I have less stress. I feel like my coffee isn't making me feel as jittery. I feel as though I have a better overall immune system. So we partnered with her and added CBD into the product. But to give you a sense, I mean, this is an amazing, I think it's one of the best. I've been drinking for about two years straight. I think it's one of the best parts have ever used in my life in any capacity. And you know, when she was giving it to patients and and then eventually selling it to him and now she's working to scale it but it is and I don't think I'm overstepping here. It is the most difficult part. Because you need the capital, which most of us don't have, even if we have amazing credit and $100,000 credit line, it's very difficult to get a product out there and break through all of that noise. And that's why I use those. Those Those example points of Bronner's Burt's Bees, these are companies that took 20 to 25 years I don't want it to take 20 to 20.
Now with these products, did they end up shipping overseas for productions? Are those still made in the US?
I think I'm not Bronner's no is I know Burt's perhaps, but that was post acquisition. So this is what a large conglomerate buys them. And it's like, that's what happens, right? Yeah. So for us, we our goal is to exit quote, unquote, get acquired a couple of times, and you hope that you find the right suitor, the right buyer that won't do that and diminish the value of your products, it becomes somewhat out of your control. But I think that would be wise to, to maintain the model. And the last thing I want to say on that is, you know, back in the day, Jason, the only way for you and I generally speaking, to get a product out to a consumer was to go through a distributor, or retailer, that's not easy anymore. And so, you know, about 95 96% of our sales are direct to the consumer, you will meet you in an event, you would read one of our newsletters, see us online, and buy direct from us as a company, what that allows us to do is to cut out that entire middle layer, which usually includes distributor representatives, and get commissions, retailers want what they call a keystone markup they want if you sell them something for 12 bucks, they want to market up to 24. And sell to the consumer, they want to make a 50% of the margin. So 100% markup. And you know, most of these companies aren't doing that when you're the manufacturer of a product, especially if you're vertically integrated like us, you know, and for the listeners that don't understand vertical integration means that we go all the way from seed to the end product. So you know, everything is controlled within the confines of our business, we're not dependent on anyone else, outside of a couple of raw materials. But that's the way you can actually win in today's world, you can build in today's world, a direct relationship with your customers, shipped to them direct cut out all these middlemen, distributors, give a better price to the consumer a better overall experience, and then really keep them for life. So when you build a company like that, and you sell it, yeah, the reason someone wants to buy yours, they're like, you have 25,200 15,000 direct customers or phone numbers or emails, they are engaged, they're loyal to you, they use you regularly. And then they become evangelists. And you can't you can't beat that. I mean, so many companies out there, have no idea who their end customer is. And we're fortunate.
That is true. And I want to make a shout out to the listeners, if you know investors, what I would like to see is more investors investing in social impact companies that are small, and have them grow in sustainable ways rather than let's cheapen the product and cheapen the price and like, cheapen the effects, because whether it's super cube, or whether it's Metolius, or whatever it is, part of what you guys are creating are high quality products that are impacting the health and well being of individuals, the end user. So I love that it's not just seed to finish its seed to the hands of the consumer, as I often say this, John is that you can't go into a supermarket in the United States any longer without seeing a line out the door for the pharmacy. Yep. And if people are willing to invest just a little bit more, not a lot more a little bit more into their health and well being. The results are so dramatic. And so I just kudos to you, because I know the hard work that you and your team have to roll up your sleeves and deal often with a lot of BS, just to get to the right people. And then they're having the results. One of the things that I love about Metolius is that you guys branch very quickly into dips, categories, other products, and I still have, I'm sure they're out there, I've just never seen another CBD dip. And I find that my patients are really having dramatic results by using the dips. And so I just I think that part of the show being being David versus Goliath, thank you for doing all the hard stuff because it would just be easier to go work for, you know, high end sales job selling something you're not really interested in. And you know,
it would be better it wouldn't.
So, you know, as we're looking at this, there's going to be a distinction in the next couple of years and you're going to have two sides of a fence. One side is going to say whole hemp CBD and the other side is going to say no, let's let's distillate it out. Let's is that the right word? Just to lay it out. Yeah, you have to extract this extract it and so tell me why Metolius made that choice and why you think that's a beneficial choice.
I think you know it candidly going back a little bit on the dips. We call them River Day. They are a lip pouch that you place in your lip not dissimilar to traditional chewing tobacco pouch. However ours are white and they're just full of for organic ingredients. And if I may I'll tell a little bit about that cuz I think it will help answer the question. So that was invented for, I think, as you know, for for our autistic son is 13 but started using CBD at eight. And we were using Jason a tincture from a company with $165 A bottle. But due to the autism, it was difficult for him to hold tincture under his tongue and didn't like the flavor. You're supposed to hold texture for 60 to 120 seconds under your tongue for optimal sublingual absorption. So I saw these guys using Zinn which is a nicotine product. It's the number one selling nicotine product in convenience stores across the United States. It's a $15 billion company. And I was like, Huh, I wonder if he and other kids like him would take a dip now with nicotine. But with things like magnesium and CBD and CBG in them, so went and bought a bunch of these, cut them blue, blue, all of the negative materials and started to fill them with with with the materials that we have. And He now uses them twice a day. We have families all over the country that utilize them, obviously, with the parents approval for their children are completely safe. But we obviously can't sell to them only to their parents. But to give you a sense is with that product, we put 100 milligrams of CBD and CBG when he was taking his tincture, if he held it under his tongue for 60 to 120 seconds, he would get probably somewhere in the relative neighborhood of 30 to 35 milligrams of CBD.
And hemp that product was it was whole hemp, which has additional value.
So they're not directly comparable. Yeah, whatever. The fact that he can throw it buccal absorption, which is the absorption between the gum line and the cheeks is about 10 to 15% higher than even sublingual. And so by him doing that he's getting three times the amount of CBD which is the predominant cannabinoid that will help him in his life. But it's so convenient, it's so fast and absorbs in minutes, and it doesn't bother him and it tastes great. So that became our number one selling product. Like you said, you've seen the results. It is our number one selling product, there's no other company that has it. And for us, we were like okay, what is a form five because this is kind of our big thing is we want to do three things when you when we provide your product, we want to use it in the form factor. If you're used to smoking a cigar, we want to replace it a cigarette, we want to replace a dipping, we want to replace it a gummy, or excuse me a pill we want to replace it. So we want to match your form factor to we want to match your price. So whatever you're paying right now, whether it's a negative product, whether it's a negative vise like smoking cigarettes, we want to match the price you're paying for your pack of American spirits with our candidates, which are a direct organic alternative. And then third, we want to have the exact opposite health results. So this is obviously not always the case. But if you are taking a particular sleep aid, and anxiety medication or smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco, we want to produce a product that again, it matches the look and feel the what they call a form factor matches your price. And then ultimately gives you the opposite health effects. Instead of you feeling jittery, or becoming becoming habit forming and addictive. We wanted to have giving you a sense of calm, improving your overall wellness, your immunity, etc. So that is really our model is we're going to match what you already take. It's going to be a healthier version, we're gonna match your price, if we can do that. The only way we can do that is being vertically integrated. We think we can we can help people exit their unhealthy vices and create healthy ones. So that's what
I liked a lot if you can change habits to be healthier habits. And I like specifically John, what you said about the look in the feel. Because yes, it's so tactile, especially when they come to smoking or they come to dips or they come to whatever it is. They want that to be similar. And that's very smart. Have you in the company to move in that direction. I just appreciate your time today. I appreciate learning more about CBD and what makes you different. And I really appreciate the journey of you and all the small businesses that are like, yeah, the world, the people of the world are needing support and living healthier lives. And I see you being a part of that solution. So thank you for being here today.
Thanks for having us, Jason. Appreciate it, man. For the listeners.
Where can they get more information? I'll put it in the show notes. But let's hear you say,
yeah, they can go to Metolius or Metolius dot market either one of those sites, they both lead to the same place. And there you will see all of our products. And I would state that probably one of the best things they could do. Jason is go to the videos page, if you would. There you will see 10s and 10s and 10s of direct customer testimonials. Where people have been Come regular users of our products, and they will tell you in their own words the life changing effects and it's broken down by which product they utilize or series of products to utilize. And I think that's probably the most important is to the wellness renegade listeners and viewers. And anyone that that ends up hearing this is just don't take our word for it. Go and go and hear how the lives have changed. It's, it's you deal with this every day, out at your practice and your wellness center, but to hear and I know, so a lot of healthcare providers hear this, but a lot of consumer product providers don't hear this as much as they probably would like to, when you change someone's life, health wise, there's almost no greater gift you could give them because, like they say the real the real wealth in life is health, and love and family and friendships. And if you can tick off and provide at least one of those. It's easy to wake up in the morning and be motivated to keep doing it. Because what's out there right now is kind of pretty crappy. And I know we can do better.
Well, John, thank you and Metolius for being here today. I'm Jason Stein, from the wellness renegade podcast wellness I would really appreciate it if you listen to this episode, if you can, like, share, and really get the word out that we're on all the streaming, different iTunes to Spotify. Let's help the small guy when I'm Jason Stein, I'm wishing you guys a great day.

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