Ones to Watch 2020: Jerry Heise
The inaugural Greenway Ones to Watch class were nominated by their peers as those will be some of the most responsible for setting the tone of Missouri’s newest industry. From activists to consultants to operators themselves, the following industry influencers are responsible for determining not only how the industry overcomes the obstacles of 2020, but how the industry will be better for it. The same questions were asked of all; submitted answers and related information edited for grammar and clarity.
NAME: Jerry Heise
COMPANY: Heya Wellness
OPERATING FROM: St. Louis
BACKGROUND: Jerry was born and raised in Missouri and grew up in a rural farming community between Cape Girardeau and Egypt Mills. After receiving a BS in chemistry from Southeast Missouri State, he went to Purdue University where he earned a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry. Jerry has worked in R&D laboratories and technology advancement in academic and industrial settings for nearly thirty-five years. During his career, he has led basic R&D teams, developed food ingredients, biobased lubricants, and was a Regulatory Affairs manager.
These are exciting times for Missourians and cannabis. Even though cannabis has not played a central role up to this point in my life, I have never really had anything against it. Especially as the laws have changed over the last 20+ years, I’ve been more in favor of responsible adult consumption with state led regulatory frameworks that are focused on consumer safety and anti-diversion. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of the end of a prohibition and take cannabis out of the dark shadows and into a legal industry. When I considered my previous career experiences and passions, I felt that I may be able to make my own contribution to the cannabis industry.
Cannabinoids and terpenes, the key phytochemical compounds in the cannabis plant, are truly remarkable. I believe we have just begun to unlock the full potential of the phytochemicals present in cannabis. Formulating products by adjusting the quantities and relative ratios of these compounds can provide relief for a host of clinical conditions. CBD and THC are clearly the most noteworthy cannabinoids presently and others are on the horizon. The proper ratios and dosages of these cannabinoids in conjunction with the right terpenes add another dimension of efficacy. Properly prepared and ratioed products are an important part of any product offering for a company that intends to make a notable difference in the medical market.
Studies to better understand efficacy and modes of action are not fully established in the literature. However, with the right combinations of these phytochemicals, the benefits they deliver are clear. Heya Wellness intends to be at the forefront of these efforts and advance a better understanding.
What is your vision of the industry in Missouri?
I have high hopes for the Missouri cannabis industry! The state has done a good job creating a balanced number of licenses to serve the patients of the state and has an ample list of qualifying conditions that provides access. Times are changing and people are realizing the quantifiable benefits it can offer. The stigma associated with cannabis is waning every day. I support the use of cannabis as medicine and responsible adult use when it’s legal in the state. It will be up to us as industry founders in Missouri to answer the call and provide patients the therapeutic benefits and ability to interact with this plant. For a significant percentage of people, this may be the first time they consume cannabis. We have a responsibility to effectively educate consumers on the benefits and use of cannabis. For Heya Wellness, quality, consistency, and ease of product selection will set us apart. Additionally, we have licensed several well-known brands and will be the exclusive provider for these brands in the state. Heya is excited to play a key role in providing patients the access they desire.
We will work in collaboration with the state and other industry partners to build an economically sound and compliant industry that is focused on providing safe and high-quality products to the patients in the state. This will aid in reducing the stigma and legitimize the use of this plant to provide a viable option for a host of conditions and provide freedom of choice for patients. As a result of a thoughtful and well written law, Missouri is poised to be a shining star in the center of the heartland and ag country.
What opportunity/opportunities does the industry create in Missouri?
For me, there are two key opportunities that come to mind. Amendment 2 gives Missourians another opportunity to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing and places freedom of choice back into the hands of each citizen. This has been a long time coming for Missourians and Heya Wellness is happy to play a key role in providing access for the patients in the state.
In addition, the jobs created by this new statewide industry cannot be overlooked. In a few years, Heya Wellness will most likely employ around 100 people for their nine licenses. Especially during a pandemic, the value of this industry can not be overlooked.
What is one thing you wish all Missourians knew about cannabis?
Cannabis is an amazing plant. People have been utilizing it for relief and treatment of debilitating conditions for thousands of years. Before you take a position to stand for or against it, I encourage you to do your research as I did. Talk to people who use it responsibly and find out how it has changed their lives.
If you only rely on what you have been told about how bad cannabis is for individuals and society, you unfortunately don’t have the whole picture. Talk to people who have had their lives changed by this plant. If you have never met people that have removed themselves from the grips of heroin and oxycodone addiction and others that are now effectively managing debilitating clinical conditions and living productive lives, you haven’t personally experienced the potential of this plant.
I along with the team at Heya are working to put cannabis back into the hands of qualifying patients legally. The Heya Wellness team members are a passionate, highly analytical, and professional team focused on destigmatizing and normalizing cannabis as medicine. Our mission is to be, the new evolution of cannabis. We recognize that this is not something that can be done alone, and we are eager to forge lasting partnerships and strategic relationships to build this industry together in Missouri.
Once your research is done, you may determine that cannabis is not for you personally. However, I believe this is an individual choice and people should have the freedom to make that choice without the stigma that has been associated with it for the last ten decades.
If you are open to cannabis, join with us and millions of others to educate those that don’t know about the benefits of cannabis. Play your part in reducing the stigma and enable freedom of choice for those who stand to gain the many benefits this amazing plant offers.