We had the pleasure of interviewing Melanie McLaughlin of Montel by Select, to talk about her journey from television executive to CBD and how she has evolved with Montel Williams throughout his journey as well.
I believe there’s a cannabis product that’s right for everyone. Whether that’s CBD or THC – or a mix of both – I think that cannabis-based products can help so many people improve their quality of life…
Melanie McLaughlin | COO & Managing Member of Montel by Select
Cannabis Magazine: Melanie, we’re excited to connect with you and learn more about your journey as well as your roles at Montel Williams Enterprises & Montel by Select? Can you tell us a little bit about how you initially got involved in Montel Williams Enterprises?
Melanie: Before I discovered the cannabis industry, I was working as a television executive and talent manager for “The Montel Williams Show” and Montel Williams. That’s how I initially got involved in Montel Williams Enterprises, and began working with Montel on his brands.
Cannabis Magazine: We know Montel Williams has been an advocate for cannabis for a long time. What initially inspired him to invest his time, energy and money into this industry?
Melanie: In 2000, Montel was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). After his initial diagnosis, he was prescribed opioid painkillers as he sought to relieve the immense pain he was experiencing.
Then, his doctor recommended he try cannabis. Once he began taking cannabis products, his pain level was radically reduced and his energy level shot back up. That’s when we became convinced that cannabis could really help people and began thinking about ways we could share high-quality, cannabis-based medicines with the world.
Cannabis Magazine: How have you taken part in Montel’s cannabis industry & CBD journey and what major shifts have you seen these past years?
Melanie: I began working with Montel on the brand in 2016
Since then, the biggest shift that I’ve noticed is the change in the stigma that has long been associated with cannabis. It’s no longer seen as taboo.
Most people are at least comfortable enough now to have a conversation about it, and that wasn’t the case 10 years ago. My sixteen-year-old son just wrote an essay for school on why cannabis should be legalized on a federal level, and he received an A on the paper. We live in a small, rural, conservative town in Connecticut. That says a lot to me about how far we have come.
Cannabis Magazine: We’re big advocates for women in cannabis and CBD. Are we seeing enough women getting into this industry or do we need to see even more?
Melanie: I see plenty of high-quality opportunities for women in the cannabis industry – but that’s not to say we don’t have a lot of room for improvement. The industry as a whole is supportive of women, but often fails at communicating and acting on that support.
Personally, my goal is to proactively support other women in the industry by creating networking opportunities and encouraging our company and others to actively seek out women for all levels of employment.
Cannabis Magazine: Tell us about your day-to-day operations with Montel by Select and how did that relationship first start?
Melanie: Currently, I serve as the COO and managing member of Montel by Select. The relationship between myself and the brand started because Montel and I noticed a definite need for higher-quality products and a better retail experience for cannabis users.
Back in the early 2000s, dispensaries in California – at least the ones I was exposed to – were often seedy and only offered bud. That experience propelled us to develop a business plan designed for a more medical experience.
Cannabis Magazine: What are the biggest problems we’re seeing with the emergence of so many brands in this industry?
Melanie: The cannabis space is crowded, and I think new brands often try too hard to be everything to everyone. It’s important that brands clearly understand themselves and their customers.
It’s important that brands clearly understand themselves and their customers.
Once you know who your customer is, you must develop a strategy and an authentic message that meets them where they’re at. Don’t try to be something you’re not – your brand will never last that way because savvy consumers will see right through it.
Cannabis Magazine: In total, do you see CBD being even bigger than cannabis as a whole?
Melanie: I believe there’s a cannabis product that’s right for everyone. Whether that’s CBD or THC – or a mix of both – I think that cannabis-based products can help so many people improve their quality of life. While CBD is “trending” now, I can’t say that that it is more or less important than other cannabis products.
Rather, it just further substantiates the fact that the this is a powerful plant with incredible wellness properties that we are only just beginning to fully understand..
Photo illustration by Visiva Studio
Cannabis Magazine: Very well put. And how have you embraced education as part of your approach to consumers your customers and consumers at large in efforts for them to understand the amazing benefits of CBD?
Melanie: We believe that education is critical to being a responsible CBD/cannabis company. Montel spends a great deal of his time on consumer education, and we think that’s a differentiator for the brand.
Our education efforts can be hampered somewhat by the regulatory environment in which we operate, but in the future, we’re working toward educating consumers more.
Cannabis Magazine: What are some of the most profound effects you’ve witnessed from consumers of CBD?
Melanie: One challenge of the regulatory environment we operate in is that we can’t make statements about CBD’s potential efficacy for any particular medical condition. We have had customers share their experiences with us and those positive stories reinforce everything we set out to do with Lenitiv and the Montel By Select brand.
Cannabis Magazine: What has made Montel by Select unique in the market and do so well?
Melanie: Montel by Select is made by a patient, for patients. Montel takes his own product every day, and he personally led the development of his proprietary formulations.
So many celebrities have hopped on the bandwagon of selling cannabis products to make a quick buck, but Montel has been an advocate in this space for years. He’s a thought leader in the industry and consumers trust his expertise. In an industry where misinformation can run rampant, I believe that this strong sense of trust is what has helped us achieve success
Cannabis Magazine: What do you think are the three to segments of growth in this industry over the next 3 years?
- I think we’ll see a lot of smaller brands acquired by larger players. This is a good time to be a premium (or craft) cannabis brand.
- I believe hemp-derived CBD products are primed to explode as more big box opportunities present themselves.
- As more states accept CBD and cannabis, I think licenses will be even more valuable than they are today.
Cannabis Magazine: How important do you think the internet will be in the shaping of this industry as it moves forward?
Melanie: The internet has always been important to this industry. When Weedmaps was introduced, it revolutionized how customers purchased cannabis products. I think e-commerce, like we’ve seen in hemp-derived CBD, will revolutionize the industry again, but probably more so once federal prohibition ends.
Source: International Cannabis Business Conference
Cannabis Magazine: If appropriate, can you share with us some things you’re about to launch or are coming up next for you and Montel by Select?
Melanie: We’re focused on acquiring a greater market share across both the THC and the CBD businesses. We’re looking at adding more products, and we’re anxious to expand the brand into more states. Stay tuned!
Cannabis Magazine: Melanie, this has been awesome! Truly appreciate your time and I know our audience will find this information highly valuable!
Melanie: Thank you so much guys! truly appreciate you as well!
Melanie McLaughlin | COO & Managing Member of Montel by Select