Celeste Miranda is no ordinary woman. And her CBD Expo Tour is an extraordinary thing.
By Brandon A. Dorfman
Feb 07, 2019
Celeste Miranda’s doctors at Stanford knew she had replaced her prescription muscle relaxers with CBD, having found the compound to be a more effective treatment for her multiple sclerosis. However, according to her, not much was said about it despite the visible positive effects she found from her twice daily dose.
Until one day her doctor — a “very high–up” professor who led the department — needed Celeste’s help.
“Celeste, I got Stanford to approve research for [multiple sclerosis] and CBD, but I need your help,” Miranda said, recalling her doctor’s words. “We need to raise about $100,000 to get this program off the ground.”
Without hesitation, Miranda replied: “Absolutely, no problem, we’ll get it done.”
For almost two weeks Celeste Miranda worked through her connections and, in her words, made some noise over it. She started to see some money come in from donors. An advocate for CBD, the effort became a passion project of sorts.
And then her doctor called her back.
“Celeste, stop everything you’re doing,” she recalled her doctor saying. “Stop, completely stop, immediately stop.”
Confused, Miranda asked what was wrong. “Stanford just lost one of their biggest financial contributors over this,” her doctor replied.
“I have no choice, it’s my job,” the doctor continued when Miranda pressed the issue.
As she recalled, Miranda acquiesced, although her choices at that point were quite limited. “And so, to say the least, for the past three years, I’ve been a patient at Cedars–Sinai now.”
She began her career marketing ordinary things
Founder of The Cannabis Marketing Lab, one of the top digital marketing agencies in the cannabis space, as well as the MACE Media Group, Celeste Miranda has watched and nurtured the industry as it has grown over the past decade. A pioneer from the early days of legalization, The Cannabis Marketing Lab is still one of the largest cannabis-specific marketing firms in the country, a force that’s launched a slew of businesses in the space.
But, before there was cannabis, Miranda was an ordinary marketer marketing ordinary things. For 10 years she worked with mainstream businesses —law firms, a large chain of hair salons, and other non-cannabis entities.
“And then, about nine years ago — so, it’s been 19 years in all — I had a grow light [company] come to me and they asked me to handle their marketing, so I did,” Miranda told PotNetwork.
“We launched this grow light that very, very closely duplicated the sun,” she continued. “Long story short, it was super successful. At that point I had a bunch of cannabis companies start coming to me.”
And all this, according to Miranda, before the first legal sales occurred in Colorado.
As The Cannabis Marketing Lab grew, so too, did the demands from clients. When Miranda was approached about placing an ad in a science-based cannabis magazine, she had trouble finding one. Her solution was to create one herself.
“So that’s when I said, well, I have writers, I have graphic designers, how hard can it be to do a magazine,” recalled Miranda. “Long story short, it’s very hard to do a magazine. So, that started Terpenes and Testing Magazine.”
Billed as “a publication catering to the science enthused professional,” Terpenes and Testing Magazine takes an in-depth look at the science behind cannabis. With topics ranging from pesticide testing to horticulture and more, the magazine lends a gravitas seldom seen in the cannabis sphere.
“And then, after that, we put the conferences in line,” said Miranda, referring to the CBD Expo Tour and its predecessor, the Terpenes and Testing World Conference.
She continued: “It was kind of a natural progression and they all still, today, feed off of each other. You know, an exhibitor can become a marketing client, a marketing client can become an advertising client. So they can all feed – we disclose everything up front, but they do help each other, and they help our clients, I think, attain maximum visibility.”
She reclaimed her life doing extraordinary things
Of course, Celeste Miranda, herself, has never been an ordinary woman, which made her journey towards CBD all the more extraordinary. “Quacked” out on muscle relaxers to help treat her multiple sclerosis symptoms, she sought an alternative to reclaim her life.
“About eight years ago I woke up one morning and I just could not feel anything from my waist down,” Miranda told PotNetwork. “I could move, and I could walk normal, but I would scratch my leg, and I would see myself doing it, but I couldn’t feel myself doing it, which was a really weird thing; it was a trip.”
One trip to the emergency room and 16 hours later, Miranda learned she had multiple sclerosis. The diagnosis included three lesions on her brain and two on her spine. Since then, she recalled, she’s been on two medications, one that almost gave her a rare brain infection and another that wasn’t strong enough. She’s had relapses.
It took some time and some tinkering, but with the help of her doctors, she finally found a medication that worked. “I haven’t gotten any more lesions,” she noted.
Still, she was stuck in a cycle of taking muscle relaxers to control her spasticity, which left her mind foggy. That is until a client from The Cannabis Marketing Lab introduced her to CBD-infused gum.
“I took it and started chewing the gum, and I would take it at the same time that I would normally have taken a muscle relaxer when I was starting to get spasticity in my legs from the MS,” Miranda recalled. She tried the gum in spite of her skepticism at first.
“Within 10 minutes my spasticity went away completely — completely,” said Miranda. “And I was just, like; this is a trip, this is weird, there’s something weird in this gum.”
She immediately began to research CBD, looking into gummy bears, oils, and other products on the market. And, after a little experimentation with the right dosage — in the morning, a smaller dosage and a larger one at night before bed when her spasticity is worse — she’s completely off the muscle relaxers. It’s just monthly infusions of Tysabri, her multiple sclerosis medication, and her daily CBD.
“I’m in the unique position where it’s like, you can’t tell me it doesn’t work because it’s me,” Miranda said, eager to dispute any naysayers. “People can say, ‘Well, you know, it’s a placebo and we’re not sure, there’s not enough research.’ Well, yeah, there’s never enough research on something.”
“But you can’t tell me it doesn’t work, and I know it works,” she continued.
The CBD Expo Tour hits the Midwest
The CBD Expo Tour is no ordinary thing
Unlike most conferences and trade shows, the CBD Expo Tour is an event, one that tours around the country from place to place bringing together vendors, speakers, and other industry experts in the CBD space. It’s an educational event that focuses heavily on the medical side of CBD.
“It was interesting, we sort of just stumbled on the idea for the CBD Expos, it really came to fruition, and it’s gone very, very well,” Miranda told PotNetwork. “I’m very grateful for how it’s worked out. Our main goal was just to provide education to the people about CBD. There were so many questions and people are so confused about it.”
According to Adam Headley, President of the MACE Media Group and right-hand man to Celeste Miranda, the CBD Expo found its beginnings in another event, the Terpenes and Testing World Conference, which took place in April of last year. Powered by Terpenes and Testing Magazine, the event had laboratories, testing facilities, and extraction companies along with grow operations in attendance.
“The people that were invited to that were innovators in the industry… because Terpenes and Testing focuses on extraction, testing laboratories, and horticulture science,” Headley told PotNetwork.
The success of that show led directly to the development of the CBD Expo Tour. It is described by Headley as “not your normal tradeshow” the Tour headlines various major cities across the country, including Seattle, Denver, and Orlando. The next conference that’s coming up is in the Midwest, said Headley, in Indianapolis, a site chosen due to large CBD sales in the area.
“We took a poll of our exhibitors, we were like, ‘Where are you getting most of your CBD sales from,’ Headley said. “About 70 percent of them said Indiana, which blew my mind but it makes sense because the people there — it’s a blue-collar state. They’re working their bodies really hard, and CBD is needed.”
“It reduces inflammation in the body, and it helps with pain and anxiety,” he continued. “So, after planning this out, it just made sense to choose this region.”
The two-day event includes exhibitors and speakers from a cross-section of the industry, with day one focusing on the basics, CBD 101, and day two delving into the medical side in a bit more detail, according to Headley.
As for speakers, they, too, run the gamut.
“We have a lot of doctors who come and speak; we have a lot of business builders, there’s a lot of educators,” Headley noted. “We have people talking about how to run ethical and responsible CBD businesses. Then, we have people talking about manufacturing and education. Then, other people giving a consumer’s perspective.”
One day, Miranda noted, she really hopes to have a representative from the Food and Drug Administration on one of her panels.
“ I’m really looking forward, at some of our future conferences, to — we’re trying really hard to get the FDA at some of our conferences, to get the DEA, to get all these entities that have put up so many roadblocks, to get them there and sit up on a panel with me,” Miranda said.
“I think that would be one hell of a show.”
The farm bill was an extraordinary thing
These days Celeste Miranda is focused on the ramifications of the recently-signed farm bill, the blockbuster piece of legislation shepherded through Congress by Sen. Mitch McConnell which legalized hemp, and, consequently, CBD as well.
Unfortunately, almost immediately after President Trump signed the bill into law FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb put out a statement declaring the compound illegal.
"Selling unapproved products with unsubstantiated therapeutic claims is not only a violation of the law but also can put patients at risk, as these products have not been proven to be safe or effective," Gottlieb wrote in a statement.
Immediately, confusion returned to the CBD industry.
“I’ll do my part and my best, and I think other people will as well, to really push them into a corner to say, ‘What you’re doing is making no sense,’ Miranda said of the FDA’s position. “Honestly, I’m not changing anything on my recommendation for my consulting or my marketing clients; we’re moving forward. So that’s my recommendation right now.”
The risks are there, she noted, but that’s always been true for anyone in the CBD or cannabis industry. Whether it’s a dispensary raid or issue with Facebook, the industry is still fighting an uphill battle.
“But with every day that passes and each day that goes, those risks get less and less and they get mitigated,” Miranda said.
She continued: “I think people are a lot more comfortable with doing what they’re doing with the farm bill if what they’re doing is under the .3 percentages. It protects a lot of cultivators out there and it makes a lot of the white label companies, or whatever, buy from people who are protected under the farm bill, but that’s fine. I think that it brings in a level of not only responsibility but it brings in a level of testing and making sure that we’re giving the correct dosages and things like that, that we’re saying the correct percentages.”
As for the FDA, Miranda has some thoughts there too. Within the year she thinks that the FDA will either change their position or, by necessity, put out a valid reason for their current position. What they’re doing right now, she believes, is untenable.
“I think they’re barking up a crazy tree,” she said.
Turning the ordinary into the extraordinary
Today, as more and more state governments explore cannabis therapy in lieu of opioid treatment and other prescription medications, Celeste Miranda still finds it unbelievable Standford was so closed-minded when it came to CBD.
“It’s a trip,” she said. “They should be ashamed of themselves.”
Even as other patients began to also show promising results from the compound, in the end, truth lost out to power.
“I mean, they didn’t say a lot when I first told them, but then they were listening and they were on board,” said Miranda. “She actually told me other patients were taking it and having amazing results, and that’s why she wanted to do this.”
“So then they were on board but then, I guess, man, the money talks.”
But with the CBD Expo Tour, Miranda channels that former frustration into something positive — something more powerful than money.
“[I’m trying] to provide a platform for consumers to come in and judge for themselves, and that’s what I’m trying to do,” she told PotNetwork, speaking about the Expo. “...with CBD Expo we’re doing what we can for everyone to be able to make their own best-informed decisions on that.”