Cannabis startup Polite sells scientifically proven medical products – GeekWire

Some of Polite’s founders are, from left to right: Mary Brown Shomiasi, Chief Medical Officer; Yung Tan, CEO; Sue Tan, Chief Creative Officer; Adam Melero, Chief Innovation Officer; and Jeffrey Freeman, Jr., Director of Development. (photo by Pax Bradford)

The co-founders of cannabis and hemp company Polite have several explanations for their startup’s name.

It’s about self-care that includes products containing THC and CBD that address certain health issues. It’s about replacing the “naughty” stereotype of marijuana with a “good” alternative to their microdosed products. This includes science-based claims for the tinctures, mouth sprays, topical lotions and vaping devices they sell.

“The spirit of Polite is really about treating yourself and others well,” said Sue Tan, co-founder and chief creative officer of Polite.

“We use marijuana for mental, physical, [and] social health and when we feel better as people,” she said, “in turn, that affects our partners, our children, our families, our communities.”

In January 2020, Polite released cannabis products containing THC, the intoxicating ingredient in marijuana. In April 2022, the company began selling THC-free hemp products with CBD. Products from both lines contain a variety of cannabinoids—the biologically active components of hemp and hemp—as well as other medicinal herbs.

“We’re Bringing Back ‘Medical’ Marijuana.”

Polite is different because it focuses on products related to health, as opposed to purely recreational use.

With the legalization of marijuana, “patient-oriented products have kind of been ignored and pushed to the back burner,” said Yung Tan, co-founder and CEO. According to him, information about health and well-being disappeared, so “we brought back ‘medical’ marijuana.”

The company works with doctors who study patient outcomes using such products and applies that clinical information to develop its products. Polite is partnered with the Seattle Institute of Advanced Integrative Medical Sciences (AIMS), a medical clinic that combines conventional and naturopathic approaches.

Its Medical Advisory Board includes AIMS Institute co-founders Dr. Sunil Aggarwal and Dr. Leanna Standish. Both also hold positions at the UW School of Medicine and Bastier University, a school of alternative medicine in Kenmore, Washington.

Polite tinctures from the hemp line. (Courtesy photo)

The company has competition. CBD products are almost by definition health related. Other medically oriented cannabis brands include Aunt Zelda’s and Mary’s Brands. But the sector seems to be giving less priority to medical applications. Searching cannabis platform Leafly, for example, doesn’t provide a clear path to finding low THC products for health needs.

The affable founders say their goal is to help customers determine which drugs and dosages best meet their health needs. This includes products for chronic pain and inflammation, sleep, stress and anxiety, digestion and immunity, energy and concentration, and joint and muscle pain.

It focuses on cannabis education among the public, health professionals, and “newbies” who work in retail marijuana stores and often use only their personal experience to recommend products.

“This question, pardon the pun, is really massive,” Sue Tan said. “You have patients who go to their health care providers and say, ‘I’ll try this.’ [cannabis product], believe it or not, because I have no options. Everything else let me down.”

Although the company is involved in cannabinoid research, it does not conduct rigorous FDA-approved clinical trials or publish research in peer-reviewed journals. It engages third-party laboratories to test its products for ingredient concentrations and contaminants such as pesticides.

The company’s aesthetic and name try to toe the line of respectability—aiming to offer products that people would be comfortable giving to sick elderly parents or leaving on their bedside tables—without looking frighteningly pharmaceutical.

Polite is a brand of a parent company called Canvas Therapeutics, which has a second brand, Revida Labs. In addition to Sue and Yung Tan, who are siblings, the other Canvas co-founders are Mary Brown Somyassi, Jeffrey Freeman Jr., Adam Melero, Melissa Durkee, Mike Somyassi and Suan Teo.

Before founding cannabis companies, Yung Tan was a corporate lawyer at firms such as Perkins Coie and a senior investment banker at banks such as Citigroup and Deutsche Bank. Sue Tan designs internationally and co-authored a book on innovation. Brown Shomiasi has an educational background and has been a cannabis medical education consultant for 14 years.

Polite hemp products are available in Washington and Arizona, two of the states where recreational marijuana is legal. Hemp products are sold in the country.

The company, which has approximately 15 employees, was rebooted and received no external financial support. As it expands its domestic and international customer base, the team will seek capital from investors, Yung Tan said.

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