YOGA & PLANT MEDICINE: Healing in the present moment Submit your questions early! Email us at [email protected] SPECIAL DISCOUNT for all attendees during Etheridge Island week! Business Etheridge Farms to market to women with range of herb-infused offerings Share this: From left, Jozee Roberto, Linda Wallem-Etheridge, Melissa Etheridge and D’Angelo Roberto pose
YOGA & PLANT MEDICINE: Healing in the present moment
Submit your questions early! Email us at [email protected]
SPECIAL DISCOUNT for all attendees during Etheridge Island week!
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Etheridge Farms to market to women with range of herb-infused offerings
From left, Jozee Roberto, Linda Wallem-Etheridge, Melissa Etheridge and D’Angelo Roberto pose for a photo as Etheridge shows off the first cannabis manufacturing license issued by Santa Cruz County. (Contributed)
SANTA CRUZ — Melissa Etheridge is getting into the weeds of California’s recreational pot marketplace.
The Oscar- and Grammy-winning singer and songwriter is a co-founder of Santa Cruz County-based cannabis company Etheridge Farms. From vape pens to tinctures, ointments and boutique flower, the company plans to produce a range of high-end products infused with cannabis and other herbs.
Etheridge said Thursday she is targeting the brand at first-time cannabis users, especially middle-aged women.
“Everyone else is taken care of,” she said. “Snoop Dogg’s got it, you know, B-Real — all those great people are doing a great job in whom they’re marketing to, but I’ve got a keen direction toward middle aged women who are discovering, ‘Hey, I don’t want to take an Ambien every night. I don’t want to have to drink wine every night to relax, because I know those things aren’t good for my body.’”
“They’re looking to cannabis, and I want Etheridge Farms to be right there to answer what they’re looking for,” Etheridge added.
This week, Etheridge Farms had the distinction of picking up the first non-retail cannabis license issued by Santa Cruz County, authorizing the company to manufacture and distribute its wares out of a 6,000-square-foot facility in Soquel.
Etheridge Farms plans to launch its product line to dispensary shelves across California in spring 2020.
Etheridge’s wife, actress Linda Wallem-Etheridge, is also co-owner and co-founder, as are Santa Cruz couple Jozee Roberto and D’Angelo “Cricket” Roberto.
An additional 21 cannabis manufacturers, seven cultivators and two distributors have secured use-permits operate in Santa Cruz County and are in the pipeline to receive a business license, according to county Cannabis Licensing Manager Sam LoForti.
Across California, Etheridge Farms is one of hundreds of cannabis manufacturers working to carve out a corner of the state’s recreational marketplace. A state database lists 859 cannabis manufacturers with an active license as of Friday.
Etheridge explained how the roots of her involvement in the cannabis industry date back to her experience using the plant medicinally 15 years ago, when she was undergoing chemotherapy to treat her breast cancer.
“My eyes were wide-opened,” she said. “I came out of chemotherapy saying, I want to be an advocate for this, I believe in this as medicine so deeply.”
“I started looking around California going, OK, what do I need to do — I want to be part of this — I actually turned to my friends and said, I want to be the face of cannabis.”
Singer Melissa Etheridge performs during the Closing Ceremony of WorldPride NYC 2019 at Times Square on June 30, 2019 in New York City. (Roy Rochlin — Getty Images)
She has been a vocal cannabis advocate ever since, and was involved in a partnership with a Santa Cruz County dispensary to sell cannabis-infused wine to medical marijuana users.
In 2014, the Robertos founded medicinal cannabis brand Naturally Mystic Organics, specializing in high-CBD — cannabis’s non-psychoactive component — tinctures and topicals. The brand has been inactive since January 2018, when recreational cannabis became legal in California, bringing with it a laundry list of new regulations and licensing requirements.
The Robertos said they met Etheridge and her wife socially and realized they shared a vision of cannabis rooted in its medicinal use. Etheridge, who has been a vocal cannabis advocate. In 2018, they agreed to partner up to tackle the recreational market under the banner of Etheridge Farms.
“Melissa and Linda genuinely share the same values that Cricket and I share about health and wellbeing — about, you know, plant medicine, about cannabis being a part of that story of helping patients get through certain ailments,” Jozee Roberto said. “And really, we’re on this mission to share a clear message with quality products that match that message.”
The cannabis will all be sourced organically, according to Jozee Roberto, and all products derived only from the flower of the plant.
As with their prior medicinal offerings, the Robertos said many Etheridge Farms products will be infused with a range of other plants that are prized for their medicinal properties — chamomile, valerian, nettles, arnica.
“With Etheridge Farms, the idea is and always has been about wellness and medicine, and the idea of cannabis as medicine,” Etheridge said. “I sometimes make people upset when I say I believe anyone using cannabis is using it medicinally whether they know it or not.”
Nick Ibarra | Reporter
Nicholas Ibarra covers government, education, cannabis and agriculture for the Sentinel. Raised in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Nicholas has earned multiple statewide awards for his writing, which has appeared throughout numerous Bay Area newspapers including the Mercury News and East Bay Times. He has also contributed reporting to publications including KQED Radio, Scientific American and Sierra Magazine. Nicholas earned a B.S. in journalism from San Jose State University.
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