A good story often starts with “Back in the day - -” so here goes: Back in the day when Ryan Kingsbury spent a decade chasing rock bands around the world… it was because they were his clients.
He worked for a large music producer, and wrangling rock stars through tight logistical schedules was his most valuable skill. Ryan's life took a surprising turn after a Grateful Dead show… but in this case, what happened next is not what you’d expect.
American Cannabis Report (ACR): Hey Ryan, thanks for taking our call when you’re on the run through Logan Airport.
Ryan Kingsbury (RK): No problem, you just caught me between the plane and a board meeting. We set up at the Boston Expo tomorrow, so I’ve got a few minutes to chat as long as I keep moving.
ACR: Would you mind telling our readers about what Athletes for Care is doing and hopes to accomplish?
RK: Sure, Athletes for Care is a non-profit organization creating a community of support, purpose, and opportunity and for athletes after their sports careers are over. A vast number of athletes in this country and around the world have built their lives around training and competing. When they retire from their sport - when the crowds go home – they often have a huge struggle to find identity and purpose in life, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and worse.
ACR: Does Athletes for Care also want to help influence younger players?
RK: Absolutely. We are trying to set a standard for all athletes. We have a platform for our experienced athletes to mentor younger athletes through their journey. Our athletes are completely committed to sharing their experiences and helping others. Because just about everyone has a post-athletic life and we ALL have to deal with it.
ACR: Tell me a little about yourself, and how a guy with your background gets into cannabis in the first place?
RK: I spent about a decade in music management and bands. I was constantly on the road, which can be fun – and it was - but it’s also exhausting. Now this will sound like a rockstar story, but one day in 2012, I was hanging with the Grateful Dead’s drummer Bill Kreutzmann. He had developed tendonitis in his elbow, and he had discovered a topical CBD product that worked incredibly well.
I was not a cannabis proponent or a user at all, but I saw an opportunity to expand on the idea and make a line of topical CBD products. As I learned more about the industry, I became captivated by the stories of people stopping major illnesses, easing terrible pain, the stories we’ve all seen about epilepsy, MS, arthritis, Parkinson’s. The more I learned, the more I knew I needed to go in this direction. Rock ‘n roll was fun, but I wanted to make a difference.
ACR: It’s cool to hear someone so energized about what they’re doing. I caught you on the way to putting on an all-day workshop at the Cannabis World Business Conference and Expo in Boston. It’s their first show in Boston, right?
RK: I'm glad you brought up the CWCBE. Working with Annie Scully and Christine Ianuzzi and their whole team really gave Athletes for Care its start. We did our first athlete panel at the LA Expo in 2015, and the reception from the crowd was so powerful, we realized that this might be a big idea. So we owe the CWCBE a big shout out.
In Boston on Wednesday the 4th, we’re holding an all-day workshop that includes 1-hour sessions, with breakouts and opportunities for getting together with new ideas and strategies. We're going to have some really special guests - Cliff Robinson of the NBA, UFC-legend Frank Shamrock, NHL tough guys Darren McCarty and Riley Cote, and former NFL players Nate Jackson and Eben Britton.
ACR: Your roster of athletes is pretty amazing.
RK: Thank you. The first session is "Performance Training Concepts Incorporating Cannabis". This is going to be incredibly interesting, because the market for cannabis right now seems to go one of two ways: patients, or partyers. But there’s a huge space in between where even elite athletes – the most competitive in the world – are finding cannabis and/or CBD to be important in their daily lives. For athletes, CBD helps reduce recovery time, reduces inflammation and swelling, reduces pain and soreness.
For us, the connection to cannabis is about wellness for athletes. Taking care of the mind and body. Athletes these days are taking more control of their health, and many have discovered that cannabis – especially cannabidiol (CBD) - can play an important role. We want to expand upon the notion of cannabis as a therapy or medicine to explore cannabis as a general health & wellness supplement for the active lifestyle.
ACR: Your guys must have been thrilled with the WADA decision on CBD!
RK: Oh yeah, that’s just a huge step in the right direction from a major sports organization. Maybe others will follow – many things seem possible now.
After the 'Training' session, we have "Leveraging the Power of Influencer Marketing", and One-on-One conversations with former pro athletes discussing the role of cannabis in their sport, their career, and their lives. Athletes can be major influencers in helping normalize cannabis and bringing it into the mainstream. We want to help overcome the stigma of Pot = Bad and empower people to seek all possible areas of benefit.
Then Ebben Britton and Nate Jackson are going to host a live broadcast of their podcast “The Mindful Warrior”. The football guys are going to interview Darren McCarty (former NHL player).
ACR: Sounds like Athletes for Care has a big day planned – I’d better let you go.
RK: Great to talk with you, and thanks for writing about us!