Hit 65, Retire a CBD Magnate? Why Not? - OZY | A Modern Media Company
“I’ve been a medical health professional for decades and a lot of how we got to where we are bothers me.”
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WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

Because it shouldn’t have taken this long to legalize it.

By Eugene S. Robinson

In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?”

Ed Donnelly
Chicago

No one from my family ever really left Long Island. So after high school, my father, who was a mailman, wanted me to take the civil service exam. That was his world.

In 1974, that wasn’t my world, though, so I started at Molloy College, which just two years earlier had been an all-girls school. But it was close to home and it let me get a degree in nursing. Believe it or not, the degrees were pink.

After that, I started working in the burn unit at a hospital. I couldn’t handle the cancer unit; it was too depressing. Burns were mostly the results of accidents, tragic stories. Lots of child abuse. But I got the sense that I could and was helping.

I didn’t want someone losing their job because of a dirty drug test.

I was married and had a couple of young kids. I figured I needed to get my MBA, so I did. Because having a full-time job wasn’t hard enough, I’d pick the most critical patients, and after caring for the patients no one else wanted, I still had time left over to study so that’s what I did.

My first job outside of the hospital was selling burn beds. They were like special bathtubs mounted on modified air hockey tables, and sleeping on them mitigated a lot of the misery of trying to sleep while severely burned.

I sold in Long Island, Queens and Brooklyn. Then I was selling in South Carolina and then Texas. In fact, my family and I ended up moving to Texas. After three years, this Long Island kid was selling to the whole country.

Eight years later, when I was 39, I got my first CEO job. Altogether, I’ve had three of them. My third one I took the company public after raising its value from about $300 million to $450 million.

Ed Donnelly

Ed Donnelly with his grandchildren.

Source Ed Donnelly

In 2012, my 2-year-old granddaughter needed a heart transplant. My wife and I had four sons, and our four sons had six sons and just one daughter. So, yeah, the only granddaughter. It was a big deal, so I retired.

In 2016, my wife had a pretty bad fall at home and screwed up her back. The opioid thing was in full swing, so we didn’t want those. I got her some CBD instead. Then the wheels started spinning. CBD it was.

The first thing I noticed after all my years in the business was that none of it was Food and Drug Administration–approved and lots of it still had THC. I didn’t want someone losing their job for a dirty drug test if I was going to start manufacturing CBD, so I decided to spend nine months to get FDA-registered.

So that’s what I did. I called it AmourCBD. With my granddaughter’s issue, I wanted love to be part of what we were doing.

I start my day by talking to all of my salespeople, then talking to distribution. I have a desk in my house, but I’m still retired. On Easter Sunday, I had Easter egg hunts with the grandkids, who are all sheltered in place here.

I’m happy that people are getting to the right place on coronavirus. One of my sons wanted to go to Wuhan for work on Feb. 9, but we talked him out of it.

It’s jaw-dropping how this happened, how it could happen. How are antiviral drugs not ready? I’ve been a medical health professional for decades and a lot of how we got to where we are bothers me, how much pharma is offshore and we’re unable to access it when we need it the most.

You know who will be hit hardest? The impoverished and disadvantaged. I was in New York in January when the first couple of cases of COVID-19 were recorded. The first was someone who had just flown in from Iran; the second was in New Rochelle. But 35 percent of the new cases in New York City are in lower-income neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. Manhattan? Not so much. This used to happen in burn units as well.

I’ll be giving more to charity this year. It’s a personal obligation. I feel lucky, and because I can do more, I should do more. That’s what I’ll be doing when I’m not making CBD cream and drops and playing with my grandkids.

My wife’s back has improved substantially, so I count that as a success. And me? I quit playing golf to spend more time with my family, so that’s how I’m ending my days. Like I said, I’m lucky.

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