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Knowledge & Insights

Cannabis Biz: Gillian Levy, Humboldt Apothecary


The cannabis industry has witnessed tremendous growth and transformation in recent years. One notable success story is that of Gillian Levy, the President of Humboldt Apothecary. In a recent cannabis podcast, she shared valuable insights into cannabis product development and building a strong team. She also discussed the challenges faced when transitioning from a medical cannabis product to a fully compliant recreational cannabis product.

In this article, we’ll explore key takeaways from Gillian’s interview and the world of cannabis health business.

Understanding Humboldt Apothecary

Humboldt Apothecary is a women-owned health and wellness cannabis business that has been operating in California since 2015. Gillian and her partner, Susan Cleverdon, both herbalists, founded the company to provide high-quality cannabis products and educate people about their health and wellness benefits.

Humboldt Apothecary specializes in crafting tinctures and topicals by combining medicinal herbs with cannabis to create effective, safe products.

The Intersection of Cannabis and Herbal Medicine: Humboldt Apothecary’s Unique Approach

Humboldt Apothecary’s unique approach centers on the synergy between cannabis and other medicinal herbs. Gillian explains that historically, cannabis has been combined with other herbs in compounded formulas, similar to the plant’s entourage effect.

By combining different plants, a synergistic effect is created, enhancing the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. Humboldt Apothecary incorporates other herbs into their products, aiming for a holistic and effective wellness solution.

The Art of Product Development

Starting a cannabis health and wellness business and crafting cannabis products requires a thoughtful and scientific approach. Humboldt Apothecary meticulously develops their tinctures and topicals, ensuring they are not just ordinary products found at a gas station. They carefully consider various factors such as specific wellness patterns, preventative medicine, and the safe and effective combination of herbs. Humboldt Apothecary’s cannabis wellness products target health issues like stress, anxiety, and sleep problems, prioritizing safety and efficacy.

The Power of Topicals for Wellness

While tinctures are widely known and used, topicals are gaining popularity in the cannabis wellness space. Humboldt Apothecary has introduced a line of topicals, including a balm and a wintergreen roll-on stick. These products offer targeted relief for achy joints, sore muscles, and other common ailments.

Humboldt Apothecary’s topicals stand out for their use of natural ingredients like essential oils and menthol, with a balanced CBD to THC ratio. This combination provides effective results without the psychoactive effects commonly associated with cannabis consumption.

Overcoming Challenges in the Cannabis Industry

The cannabis industry is not without its challenges, especially for small businesses like Humboldt Apothecary. One significant hurdle they faced was the transition from medical use to fully compliant adult-use cannabis. Regulatory changes posed difficulties, such as the definition of alcohol as a solvent, which affected their alcohol-based tinctures.

However, through perseverance and working closely with regulatory agencies, Humboldt Apothecary was able to navigate these challenges and adapt their products to comply with the evolving regulations. This experience taught them the importance of staying informed, being adaptable, and building strong partnerships within the industry.

The Role of Politics in Cannabis Business

Getting involved in politics can play a crucial role in the cannabis industry and make a significant impact. Gillian emphasizes the importance of understanding local regulations and actively participating in the political process. Business owners can shape the industry and advocate for their interests by joining local cannabis associations, attending hearings, and voicing concerns.

Collaboration and community engagement are needed to promote positive change and expand access to cannabis products where they may be restricted.

Building a Nimble and Powerful Team

Humboldt Apothecary’s success is partly due to the strong team and hands-on involvement of co-founders Gillian and Susan, who take part in all aspects of the business. They have also partnered with Kiva Confections, a well-established confections company in California, which has provided valuable support and guidance. Additionally, they have a team of sales managers and a small manufacturing team in Arcata, ensuring the smooth operation and quality control of their products.

The Future of Cannabis Health and Wellness

Looking ahead, Gillian envisions a future where cannabis health and wellness become more integrated into people’s lives. She believes that education and access to high-quality products are key to realizing the full potential of cannabis as a wellness tool. With ongoing research and advancements in the industry, the opportunities for innovation and growth are vast. Humboldt Apothecary remains committed to empowering individuals to take charge of their well-being by providing safe, effective, and scientifically crafted cannabis products.

Shaping Future Cannabis Innovators

Gillian Levy’s journey with Humboldt Apothecary demonstrates the resilience and adaptability needed in the cannabis business. Their commitment to quality and innovation has helped them carve a niche despite challenges.

Humboldt Apothecary’s experience offers lessons for the cannabis industry in product development, team building, and regulatory navigation.

Gillian emphasizes creativity and focus to overcome challenges. GreenGrowth CPAs supports the next generation of cannabis innovators with financial expertise and regulatory guidance. We work with growers, dispensary owners, and entrepreneurs, offering insights to navigate the industry’s framework and optimize financial performance.

If you’re looking to create a thriving cannabis business like Gillian Levy’s, let GreenGrowth CPAs be your financial partner. Call 800-674-9050 or visit our website for information on how we can help your cannabis business succeed.

Explore Humboldt Apothecary’s website and social media, like Instagram @humboldtapothecary and Facebook at, to learn more.

Request a Free Consultation & learn how GreenGrowth CPA’s can help your business grow.

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