As part of my series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business” I had the pleasure of interviewing Maryam Henein, an investigative journalist, functional medicine consultant, and founder and editor-in-chief of HoneyColony. She is also the director of the award-winning documentary film “Vanishing of the Bees,” narrated by Ellen Page. If her work resonates with you,, please follow her on Twitter @maryamhenein & join her Youtube Channel. She’s currently being shadowbanned (badge of honor), so all follows are appreciated!!
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I am an investigative journalist by degree and a filmmaker by default. Today, I am also a functional medicine consultant. And an entrepreneur who is now obsessed with restoring freedom of speech and health freedom given the sick ties between Big Pharma and Big Tech. Read my story on that subject which went viral on The Epoch Times
My story on CBD starts with a pesticide spray on a beach in Juan Dolio, a small sleepy community on the southern coast of the Dominican Republic. It was September 2011, and I was trying to enjoy my last day with my ex-boyfriend, James, before heading to an environmental film festival to showcase my documentary film, Vanishing of the Bees, narrated by Ellen Page. As I was lounging in the bedroom reading a book on my Kindle, I heard a loud-ass leaf blower. Or so I thought.
I checked outside and saw a man with a ghostbuster-like pack on his back. He was wearing a full-on industrial respirator, albeit no other protection. He wasn’t blowing leaves; he was fumigating against mosquitoes between our condo and the one next door.
I screamed. But it was too late. It was windy. I was assaulted by a waft of poisons. Exposures result in a bewildering variety of symptoms such as cardiac and neurological abnormalities, headaches, bladder disturbances, asthma, depression, anxiety, gut problems, impaired cognitive ability, and sleep disorders.
A few months later, I lost all my strength. I couldn’t even climb a flight of stairs. I was 36 years old. Suspecting it was my thyroid, I went to a rheumatoid specialist to run tests, only to be told I had markers for the autoimmune conditions, lupus and fibromyalgia.
When I later asked my rheumatologist whether I could be suffering from “chemical body burden,” she shot me a blank stare. Western medicine doesn’t acknowledge toxic load. Luckily, functional medicine doctors do. I found a naturopath who helped confirm high levels of chemicals and heavy metals inside my body.
The western medicine doc however happily gave me samples of the antidepressant Cymbalta and offered me prednisone instead. Both of which I refused to take. I later realized that my chronic condition was a result of being exposed to poisons, having Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), and having a weakened immune system due to years of obliterating my gut biome from antibiotics. I spent six years hacking my condition, using an arsenal of natural remedies. Ironically, I tell people that I too have now become an environmental indicator. Now I am dedicated to helping others heal with functional medicine approach!
It was 2015 when I discovered CBD. I had returned from Costa Rica where I earned my permaculture certificate. I was momentarily house sitting for a friend in Glendale, California and my business partner was visiting from Berlin.
He just returned from a business meeting in West Hollywood to find me on the floor around a coffee table, cross-legged on my computer. He administered a dose a CBD tincture while I applied for a working capital loan from Paypal.
I felt an immediate clearing behind my eyes and the fog around my brain slightly lifted. I’d been experiencing brain fog that compromised my cognitive skills for years. I remember that day well because, within minutes, Paypal awarded our online magazine and marketplace, HoneyColony, a 100k loan.
I immediately began a CBD oil regiment. I also discovered that CBD in larger amounts made me sleepy, helping me wean off years of microdosing xanax to sleep. We were so impressed with the results and the other myriad of benefits that we decided to sell CBD online. We connected with a brand from Ojai, CA, and started selling their CBD on our site. A few months later, we decided to create our own brand which we called Superior, which is a blend of liposomal organic full spectrum CBD, containing other healing chinese herbs.
Then in 2017 on the front lines of the CBD movement, we began experiencing a slew of issues with merchant processors, along with theft, fraud, and more. You can learn more about CBD and Banking here.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I refer to 2017 as The Year Of Playing Whack-A-Mole. During this time, my online health and wellness company was shut down multiple times, robbed, and defrauded. I, meanwhile, experienced identity theft, was sued, censored from YouTube, banned for life by PayPal, bullied by loan sharks, conned by criminals, and sprouted my first gray hairs. Every time I whacked one problem, another popped up.
All this because my company was selling CBD oil derived from industrialized hemp. The same CBD mixed into face masks at chichi health food stores and infused into gummy bears and sold at gas stations. Everyone and their mama is making CBD today. And while some brands sell this naturally occurring plant constituent without a hitch, others have gone through hell.
At the core of the recurring challenges is an asinine system that caters to Big Pharma, big banks, disinformation, fear, corruption, and greed.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I am not sure how funny it is, but I think the biggest mistake I made was starting a business with someone I was romantically involved with. If I had to do it over again, I would have scrutinized contracts better for my rights. Since I am an American citizen and my partner was not, all the legal aspects of our CBD product were under my name – so I was hit hard with negative consequences, while my ex-boyfriend/partner was worry-free. This, needless to say, caused a lot of extra stress on our dying relationship. If I could do it over again, I would keep business and pleasure separate. Unless you are collaborating creatively, both with autonomy, and the parameters are clearly outlined. Both parties should want to bolster each other and truly empower each other.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
I am personally committed to exposing Big Tech in relation to health freedom/freedom of Speech. I recently had a story go viral in The Epoch Times titled Google Censors, Shadowbans, and Blacklists Alternative Health News, where Zach Vorhies confirms many of my findings.
I’ve started collaborating with Mikki Willis, of Elevate Films, on a short documentary that explores censorship, fake news, and false narratives, political violence and the truth. The working title is “Don’t Be Evil.”
I continue to run my company. I am fighting to end censorship and expose sick ties between big pharma and big tech. I am finding a hive of people who are committed to the truth. I stand for health freedom and inspiring people to be their own best health advocate. I am also currently in school to further my knowledge of functional medicine and become a coach.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I am thankful to George Langworthy who co-directed Vanishing of the Bees with me. Working with him on the film was a beautiful and difficult journey that opened many doors. I am grateful to the honeybees and all they have taught me. I am grateful to my mom who has been my biggest fan and supporter. I am grateful to myself for my persistence and dedication to uncovering the truth. I became my own best health advocate and because of this I am dedicated to empowering others to do the same and reclaim their health. My inner moral compass and consciousness has led me to reclaim my sovereignty. A dedication to “know thyself” so that I become the best version of me on all levels. I’ve been on a spiritual path since the age of 13. I aspire to walk my talk. And to take accountability when I mess up.
Every experience has led me to here. It’s not what happens to you, but what you do with what happens to you.
I have not had many mentors or people I aspire to. I want to be my own person. Of course, I admire many people. I give a big thanks to Anthony Turner who has been my mentor for several years.
This industry is young dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?
I believe in quality, so all of my website’s articles are well sourced to inform customers about the details of CBD. And all of our products use clean ingredients made in the United States. We are dedicated to empowering people to be their own best health advocate with natural remedies. I am very big into cross-pollinating and working with affiliates/influencers.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry?
The genie is out of the bottle, sort to speak. The farm bill was passed in 2018. The SAFE Banking Act just passed the house. And CBD has gone mainstream. And despite what the media reports, there are tons of studies on the benefits.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
I am aware that Big Pharma wants to dominate what is estimated to be a 22 billion dollar market by 2022. There is ALOT of disinformation and suppression of health information.
The FDA can still regulate hemp products meant for ingestion or topical use. On the day Trump signed the AIA into law, the FDA issued a release stating their intent to enforce the same laws on hemp products as it does for other FDA-regulated products. Companies cannot make therapeutic claims without FDA approval, and the administration still deems it unlawful to sell foods and supplements containing CBD on the interstate market.
This is arguably the biggest issue currently facing CBD.
Conveniently, the FDA contends that, since CBD is the compound at issue in the approved medication Epidiolex (the fake synthetic CBD), that it cannot be used as an ingredient in food or marketed as a dietary supplement.
Meanwhile, because everyone and their mama makes CBD oil today, there are a lot of substandard products that fuel FDA’s argument. People may want to reconsider if the FDA really has their best interest in mind even though they purport to stand for safety. The evidence says otherwise.
Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business”? Please share a story or example for each.
Well hopefully these things won’t be applicable soon because of crusaders on the front lines
1. Selling CBD is not for the faint of heart.
2. Educate yourself on the health properties of this plant and the standards needed to make the best product ever.
3. Be true to your message. Do not sell out or be motivated by money.
4. Do not give up regardless of what others tell you.
5. Learn from your failures and view them as lessons.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Empower your employees and refrain from micromanaging. Put processes in place so that if you go through people (because you will) then there are procedures to keep things flowing. I encourage GoToMeeting and speaking at least once a week. Our hive is virtual so we rely on Slack to communicate. Keeping people accountable and cultivating a company culture is important. I always encourage new employees to inject their fresh perspective.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I inspire people to think for themselves, to cultivate self-awareness and mindfulness. To awaken to the poisons in our food supply, air, water, soil, communication tools and wonder if there is something else at play. I stand for free speech and health freedom in an age of technofascism. I believe the human species is amazing. If i can learn to walk again after being hit by an SUV and dragged 49 feet and also reverse an autoimmune condition, then you can too.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
I am being shadowbanned and our site has been deranked. Please support and follow on Twitter @maryamhenein/ @maryamhenein on Instagram. Buzz on over to www.honeycolony.com. And follow me on YOUTUBE
For any CBD products, we had to ultimately create a whole other site called www.simplytransformative.com