Charlotte’s Web, a producer and distributor of hemp-derived CBD products, made history on Oct. 12 when it became the official CBD of Major League Baseball (MLB), establishing the first-ever partnership between a cannabis/hemp brand and a professional sports league.
Through the partnership, Charlotte’s Web products are now available to MLB players to support recovery, focus, and sleep cycles, with the first product available being its Daily Edge tincture. The company’s Daily Edge tincture falls under its SPORT line and will include MLB’s logo on its bottle.
All Charlotte’s Web products underwent specific testing to meet MLB scientific and no-banned substances standards, and were Certified for Sport by NSF, a third-party, independent auditor of safety and quality standards, becoming the first broad-spectrum, hemp-derived tincture to earn that distinction.
What’s more, the partnership between Charlotte’s Web and MLB continues to normalize cannabis and/or hemp in U.S. culture, and forges a new path forward for cannabis companies looking to expand their brand presence and audience among a larger population segment.
Stanley joined Cannabis Business Times to discuss the company’s precedent-setting partnership with MLB, how it all came together, and the opportunities ahead for Charlotte’s Web.
Zach Mentz: What attracted Charlotte’s Web to partnering with MLB specifically, and how did those conversations initially start?
Jared Stanley: Major League Baseball is a historic first mover; they were the first professional sports league [to partner with a CBD company], and this summer they were the first league to announce that they were open to sponsorship with a CBD company. This was a clear signal that they’re focused on providing options to their players and dedicated to the future of wellness for their athletes.
Any CBD brand interested in partnering with MLB needed to be able to demonstrate top-in-class quality. Specifically, any hemp extract accepted by MLB would first need to pass the rigorous standards of NSF International and gain designation as NSF Certified for Sport to ensure that it was free of 280 banned substances. This shared focus on wellness and quality made a partnership between MLB and Charlotte’s Web a no-brainer and a home run.
And beyond our shared vision of opening options to botanical wellness options to players and fans, we’re both purpose-driven organizations dedicated to serving our communities. We look forward to meaningful ways we can partner on initiatives focused on doing good for our local community.
ZM: What were some of the challenges—be it legal, logistical, etc.—that you faced in making this partnership a reality? How difficult was that?
JS: The biggest hurdle, if it could be called that, was creating a product that could pass the rigorous standards used to achieve the NSF Certified for Sport distinction. But this wasn’t a huge challenge for us, as we’ve been driven by science and demanding quality standards since our founding and had already been doing or completed the necessary research studies.
In fact, these studies were the markers that led to the Daily Edge product becoming the first broad-spectrum CBD product NSF Certified for Sport. We started by making a product that was good enough for the needs of Charlotte and thousands like her. Those quality standards are with us today; and we think that if they were good enough for Charlotte, they’re good enough for Aaron Judge.
ZM: How does this partnership benefit both Charlotte’s Web and MLB, and what are you most excited about here?
JS: We’re most excited to put botanical wellness on the national stage and in front of audiences who may never have considered CBD as an option in their wellness routines. As a partner of MLB, we have a huge megaphone we can use to educate people on what CBD is and what it does. Education around CBD for the league, its players, coaches, trainers, and office staff, as well as fans, is key. Demand for transparent CBD research and knowledge is crucial to inform wellness seekers how to identify trusted products, how they work, where they come from and how to use them.
ZM: Does this partnership establish a blueprint for hemp and/or cannabis brands partnering with professional sports leagues going forward? How so?
JS: The MLB decision was a landmark change for professional sport and is likely to be followed by the other leagues, in our view. This forward-thinking move by the most historic professional sports league in the U.S. signals the value of CBD to audiences across the nation. In the absence of federal regulation, the sports leagues themselves are carving out guidelines and a set of standards for their players that all consumers can benefit from. I hope that our work establishes a blueprint; we put quality, safety and education as the foundational pillars of the partnership, and any league looking to partner with a CBD company, I would recommend that they do the same.
Also, the importance of providing a botanical wellness option to our nation’s—and the world’s—top athletes isn’t just good marketing or a passing fad, it’s a meaningful next step in the way athletes care for themselves and the way we care for athletes. Natural botanical options that help top performers stay calm under pressure, recover after exercise, maintain focus when it counts, and sleep like a champ will soon become the norm—and yes, our deal with MLB does create a model for a best-in-class partnership. It’s rooted in unwavering product quality and enhanced by a mission to create optionality to botanical wellness.
ZM: Daily Edge is the first product launched in Charlotte’s Web’s SPORT line. What inspired the launch of this product line, and when can consumers expect gummies, topicals and sprays to be available?
JS: Understanding the benefit that hemp extract brings to so many, we saw the opportunity to expand into sports as a meaningful way to serve a new segment of consumers. Not just athletes, but fans as well. More SPORT products are planned to roll out in the summer and fall of 2023.
Each product will undergo the same NSF certification process. We applaud NSF for their vision and recognition to uplift quality in CBD and to unlock these products for athletes. The NSF Certified for Sport distinction is a validator and gives us a competitive advantage in the market. We now have the playbook and an approved NSF extract ingredient to drive innovation and bring our products into an entirely new consumer base. We are excited to see how this portfolio will play out.
ZM: What does this partnership mean for Charlotte’s Web going forward? What’s next for the company?
JS: The distinctions as official CBD of Major League Baseball and the first and only broad spectrum hemp extract to be NSF Certified for Sport are huge validators for our quality. Seeing the iconic MLB batter logo on our packaging helps consumers understand that we’re a leader in the market, and through the partnership, we’ll be able to educate millions of fans on the value of botanical options for wellness.
Charlotte’s Web will now have a premiere brand presence at MLB’s jewel events including the All-Star Game, Postseason, and World Series through marketing, media, and communication activations that connect to the league’s massive 175 million person fan base, 180 million social media followers, 111 million broadcast viewers, and millions of email subscribers. The organizations will collaborate on a joint, high-impact media plan including local penetration through club channels, customized brand engagements, ticket, and unique fan experiences, and alignment with fitness events throughout the year.
CBD education is also a shared priority that will come to life through a CBD wellness agenda that educates coaches, performance trainers, doctors, and all stakeholders in the health journey of the organization. Charlotte’s Web and MLB will also come together through a social impact strategy that underscores our shared values.
And what’s next? We’ll have more SPORT products coming out in 2023, and consumers will also start to see us in many unexpected places. This year, we’ve established relationships that will put Charlotte’s Web everywhere consumers are looking for a natural wellness alternative. We’ll be in premium liquor stores as an alternative for those looking for calm but not looking for intoxication; we’re showing up in pharmacies and as options through employer-provided health plans, and we’ll certainly be at more and more sporting events. And this isn’t limited to the U.S; more and more consumers worldwide will start to see Charlotte’s Web locally. We’re excited about all that is to come.