Conversations in Cannabis: The Hemp Renaissance with Chad Frey

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AUTHOR: Glenn Johnson


Over the past few weeks I’ve had a chance to speak with Chad Frey and get to hear more about his journey in the role of COO and Co-Founder of Cannabis CRE Capital as well as his role as CEO of Attilah, whose wholesale model aims to engage a New Hemp Renaissance. Our conversations have been a frank and honest discussion of the dizzying wild west of a market we’re riding through. 

Chad explains, “At Cannabis CRE Capital, our main focus is to take the legwork out of sourcing lending options in order to provide our clients with additional capital, higher margins, and the additional cash flow to engage in new ventures tailored to future business plans.

Attilah, he continues, is a simple, transparent platform “for supplying wholesale cannabidiol to everyone.” The company is “founded on principles of quality, integrity and client education, we are leading the charge towards CBD accessibility and affordability for the masses. We specialize in retail (brick and mortar) sales solutions for quality CBD brands and provide a platform to expand your business solutions in today’s emerging hemp marketplace.


When impassioned, Chad can speak at warp speed on a range of topics with a great depth of nuance and knowledge—from what makes a successful investment pitch to the importance of building a good team from the start, to Hemp in Kentucky and Cannabis in California, and all the legislation in between.


As the market is moving and evolving quickly before our eyes, we’ve discussed how we both bring our passion of what we do best to this new category and how hes adjusted his own business practices to fill the necessary needs he sees as opportunities.


Q–If we do things right, what are top three steps to take when we look at Hemp, CBD and marketing in the next six months?

At Atillah we believe in transparency, simplicity and quality, I think the number one step to take is education across every vertical.


1-Educate the consumer, really talk to the end user on everything about what this product does.


2–Bring Products to demographics: Be Specific about what (and who) your product demo is. A lot of people see the dollars signs and are rushing to get to market, with no real plan. If youre trying to market to multiple platforms its difficult to resonate, be strategic.


3–Regulation. Its upon us to set the standards. If we want to look at scale like the adult beverage industry, we have the opportunity to set the standards for how this business should operate. For CBD, we also have to say what its not, that is not psychoactive, that its not a poison, we need to showcase how it can positively affect an end user by proper regulations and a healthy legislative process.

When you look at who’s done what in the market to regulate it, Utah did it right–if youre going to have a CBD product you need to register with the agriculture committee. Theyre making sure the consumers are safe, theyre doing it right.

When we look into the structure of what the NYC Department of Health is saying recently–they havent taken any products off the shelves because they cant because of the FDA Q/A forum thats happening now.


Q– Theres a lot of miseducation and ignorance in the market too, much of the recent CBD stories on the news made it sound like the CBD in NYC was coming from Cannabis, not Hemp. Marketing and messaging is a blur right now, would you agree?

Yes, we see from recent surveys that 23% of the market doesnt even know what the product is or the difference between Hemp and Cannabis. Many still only think of CBD as the same as marijuana.

In terms of industrial hemp however–we see a spread of business thats differentiating itself by virtue of what market youre doing business in. If youre focusing on the textile side of Hemp and are just harvesting the plant as a whole–theyre not worried about where CBD is in the zeitgeist per se. There are opportunities to build important legacy brands in industrial Hemp too.

Q– Regionally speaking, is there a Market that youre most interested in?

California is what brought us into this, where we will be moving forward, the world’s 4th largest GDP, 2.62T dollars, equal to the United Kingdom. We want to be a globally focused brand.


Q– What are challenges are you seeing in California?

A–sticker shock, and B–we see taxes that are cutting into profits.

They have complex legislation in California, a dual licensing structure, you need a local license, then you have zoning, its a lot of money to do business there. We try to provide the best education we can to our clients. We dont want to see any business fail.

Theyre super stringent, there was no testing done before, the FDA is trying to get a basic feel what the market is like in terms of Hemp and CBD. California is falling into the pit with the FDA, waiting on the FDA to say it can be a supplement, like Hemp Seed Oil, which is already GRAS (generally regulated as safe) and theres a lot of friction pulling back and forth right now. When you look at Ginseng for example, there are some false altruistic attributes that exist on a widely accepted supplement.

Q– Its hard to navigate the industry from a Marketing perspective today…

Its very difficult to find the right avenues in marketing right now, its an evolving dynamic place. Its important to go more for the target market youre interested in speaking to, but the options of whats allowed to get your message out varies so widely. Adwords is a hot point, as is Facebook and the fact that drop shipping off Shopify you cant process credit cards. Its a challenging space to do business.

We educate people when they are ready, a lot of people are coming into the space we provide all the resources and solutions when they are ready to come into the space…from retail to extraction, the whole plethora.

I think its important that we are associating ourselves with the OGs in Hemp. We look at different ways that we can assist in the market, we need to be taking some of it off their plate and find synergies for new leaders in the hemp industry to evolve.

Our relationships are really built on this. From the US Roundtable, to the US Hemp Association and Vote Hemp with Eric Steenstra whos facilitated pro-hemp legislation passage in more than 39 states, to Joe Hickey and his history and the Kentucky Hemp Association.


Q–Which area of the market is most exciting to you today?

Industrial hemp is exciting, it’s been a great grass roots market over the years and weve been practicing with a lot of players there since 1992. From soil health to paper, and products like Bio Fuels and Hempcrete– the industrial uses of hemp are endless. The benefits are remarkable too, from carbon emissions to soil remediation and how it heals the earth and produces such a quality product thats been subjugated for the last 50 years.

CBD is of course in there as well, look at John Rouloc and Nutiva: Been in the category since the late 90s, the largest hemp producer, on a food scale, stepped down to take a position in CBD. Hes highly focused on healthy soil and production–regenerating the soils damaged by pesticides. From what weve seen in the last 50 years–in two harvests you can have healthy soil again after two years–it’s a product thats necessary now more than ever.

Our outreach with Attilah is targeting retail sales sourcing, wholesale oil supply, white/private labeling, and consumer-facing apps to get more CBD/hemp education in the hands of everyday consumers in order to change the landscape and depiction of hemp, that’s the renaissance.


In PART II of The Hemp Renaissance: We continue the conversation around the business of business and the18th Century Kentucky connection that will lead us into the 21st Century.



At Cannabis CRE Capital, our main focus is to help our clients obtain the right funding for the right job. Focusing exclusively on the cannabis industry, we are here to provide access to new lending solutions, banking options, and equity specifically designed for cannabis-based real estate financing, new developments, refinancing and investment opportunities.


Founded on principles of quality, integrity and client education, Attilah is leading the charge towards CBD accessibility and affordability for the masses.


About Glenn Johnson

I am a Marketing, Branding and Communications Consultant w/ experience in high-touch luxury consumer marketing in the travel/hospitality, wine/spirits, fashion/beauty/grooming and Cannabis categories. My talents include Branding & Brand development, Business Building, Strategy and Brand Storytelling. I excel in working with Founders, funders, start-ups, and small brands.


Previously I was co-founder & moderator for the Creative Mind Salon series hosted at Soho House NY w/ industry innovators, creatives & decision makers from fashion, film, photography, music and digital industries which provided IRL intelligent discourse amongst highly-curated leading edge creatives. Connect with me on LinkedIn at:



A Cannabis Column with a Marketing & Branding point of view, including Q & A articles, “Conversations in Cannabis,” with industry innovators across the spectrum of start-ups, founders and brands doing business in the Cannabis category.


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