New Platform Prima Is on a Mission to Demystify Hemp

Photo: Prima
Ever since the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Schedule 1 drugs list, the once-maligned plant has developed an aura (a haze, even) of intrigue and excitement. Indeed, a small body of early research shows that compounds within hemp—including CBD, everyone's favorite non-intoxicating cannabinoid—could be a helpful ally for those suffering from anxiety, poor sleep, and other modern woes, although more studies are needed to reach any definitive conclusions. But beyond the buzzwords, most of us still don't know a whole lot about the hemp-based CBD products we're putting into and onto our bodies, and how they could enhance our lifestyles in a holistic way.

This is a problem, says Jessica Assaf, founder of Cannabis Feminist and a long-time clean beauty activist. "One of the greatest risks we see is that people think of CBD as this miracle cure-all," she says. "We can’t just be using CBD in a bubble and not take care of our health in other ways." Plus, she adds, there's very little regulation or rigorous science in the CBD industry right now, and it's hard for a buyer to tell whether any given product is legit. But an all-star trio hopes to change this by launching a new educational content platform called Prima, which has already raised over $3 million in venture capital funding. The site focuses on simple ways to optimize health on a holistic level and how plants like hemp can be layered into a broader self-care routine.

Prima was co-founded by Assaf, The Honest Company co-founder Christopher Gavigan, and Laurel Angelica Myers, a former product development lead at The Honest Company. "[The three of us] have really committed our careers to creating healthy and non-toxic lifestyles for people," says Gagivan. And Prima, Assaf adds, will allow them to take this shared passion in a new direction. "We feel that we have an inherent responsibility to help consumers understand all aspects of health in order to help them realize that hemp could be a solution [for their individual ailments]."

"One of the greatest risks we see is that people think of CBD as this miracle cure-all. We can’t just be using CBD in a bubble and not take care of our health in other ways." —Jessica Assaf, co-founder of Prima

There's also a lot of education needed around the hemp plant itself, says Assaf. For one thing, it's not the same thing as marijuana—hemp can't get you high, because it has low levels of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC (under 0.3 percent). "Hemp has been overshadowed and unfairly coupled with cannabis [that has a higher THC content] when it actually has no psychoactivity," she tells me. "We want to completely remove it from the drug category [in people's eyes] and bring it into the wellness space in a really beautiful way." In other words, they want to do for dusty hemp exactly what's been done for shiny ingredients like adaptogens and medicinal mushrooms.

And for good reason, too. "Hemp includes all these active botanical compounds like phenols and terpenes and cannabinoids [of which CBD is one] that are shown to have this incredible impact on the body from a re-balancing and homeostasis perspective," Gavigan explains.

Not enough people know this, he says, and it's the lack of solid information about hemp that's motivated the trio to launch Prima as an educational platform before they branch into commerce (which they plan to do later this spring). "We want to help transform people's choices by providing the best information, the best data, and the best expertise," says Gavigan. There are so many "snake oil" products on the hemp market due to a lack of regulation, he says, they're hoping to educate consumers on what to look for in their purchases. "It starts with consumers having the tool kit to properly assess products," says Assaf. (If this all sounds quite serious, know that there's plenty of lighter content in the mix, too—like a recipe for vegan hemp fettuccini alfredo and a Q&A with CBD-loving actress Nikki Reed.)

In May, Prima will launch its own line of high-quality hemp-based beauty products, skin care, and supplements—many of which will contain not just CBD, but other functional herbs and adaptogens, too. For now, they're staying mum on the specific details, but Assaf says to expect something different than you've seen in the CBD market to date. "We spent a lot of time thinking about innovation and doing things differently, so that our products easily integrate into the busy woman’s schedule."

That's right, neither the products nor the platform will be geared towards joint-passing Coachella stoners. Instead, they're targeting a broader audience: wellness-conscious millennials, stressed-out soccer moms, and grandmas with sore joints alike. "I think you've got a growing trend of people trying to assess and manage their own bodies who are willing to try new key ingredients if the information is presented to them in the right way," says Gavigan. "[Prima is for] the crowd that's wanting to optimize and balance their bodies and get the most out of their life."

Here's what happened when one editor swapped her entire beauty routine for CBD products. Meanwhile, CBN is another cannabinoid getting lots of attention—and it might help you sleep

Additional reporting by Erin Bunch.

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