A Business Is Born
Long before the initial announcement of Medicine Box’s formation on April 20, 2016, our founders spent an entire lifetime of blood, sweat and soil into preparing for the adventure to follow. Chief Brand Officer Brian Chaplin spent nearly a full decade in the cannabis underground honing his cultivation skills and learning valuable lessons in entrepreneurialism through his work in Lake Tahoe’s service industry. With his embrace of sobriety and entry into the 12-step community in 2012, Brian began considering his options at the peak of his cultivation career. During a long winter convalescence from a ski injury in 2016, Brian researched the thriving examples of consciously-minded, community-oriented businesses, from Vital Farms to Blue Bottle Coffee, that were emerging throughout the country. Assembling the initial prototype of this business during a trip to Oahu, he envisioned a future where all the pharmaceuticals and drugs in an average person’s medicine cabinet would be replaced by cannabis and plant-based health and wellness products. This vision of a 21st century “medicine box” served as the starting point of our “exploratory adventure” into the worldwide wellness movement.
Learning the value of aesthetics from Steve Jobs and Burning Man, Medicine Box commissioned Roundwood Furniture and Tahoe-based artist Andy Cline to develop rustic, handmade visuals for the initial product line. The company’s booth at the 2016 National Cannabis Industry Association turned heads amidst the suits and corporate types, showing the industry what a few forward-thinking OGs from Tahoe and Nevada County can do. From there, we collaborated with the former pastry chef for Governor Gavin Newsom’s restaurant PlumpJack on our award-winning edible line. At its pre-adult use legalization peak, Medicine Box supplied six chocolates, five tinctures and three savory health bars to over a dozen stores. These products were featured in articles by High Times, The New Smoker, PopSugar and MG Retailer.
TROUBLE ALONG THE WAY
Of course, nothing good ever comes without struggle, and Medicine Box has participated in several fights on behalf of the Nevada County cannabis community. In early 2016, the Nevada County Board of Commissioners placed the disastrous Measure W on the ballot. Had it passed, all outdoor cannabis grows would have been outlawed within Nevada County absent another vote from the people. Along with several stalwart members of our community and the organizing prowess of the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance, this measure was defeated, paving the way for a fruitful working relationship between local government and Nevada County’s homegrown cannabis industry. Through the cannabis community’s hard-fought victories, Medicine Box developed a regionally-minded supply chain which has proved vital to the maintenance of our mission.
However, the biggest challenge to Medicine Box arrived late in the harvest season of November, 2017, when the company suffered a one-two punch that almost destroyed it.
Armed robbers not only made off with much of that year’s harvest, but the Nevada County Sheriff’s Department decided to prosecute Medicine Box over a gross misinterpretation of its permits. The company spoke out against its treatment to Rolling Stone and MG Magazine , and eventually, all criminal charges against Medicine Box were dismissed. Medicine Box has since filed suit against the Nevada County Sheriff’s Department and the County itself for violating its constitutional rights and due process. This case is still pending.
Finally, on the Strawberry Full Moon of July, 2018, longtime, medical cannabis cultivator, holistic nurse and wellness visionary Michael Hollister transitioned following a painful battle with colon cancer. Michael’s work with the company as a trusted advisor, an indefatigable resource on the cannabis plant and a wise and patient mentor continues to guide the business to this day.
KEEPING THE DREAM ALIVE
These experiences, while harrowing, transformed Medicine Box into a leaner, more resilient operation, As many other brands perished or gave in to acquisition in the immediate Prop 64 aftermath, Medicine Box fought its way back onto store shelves with the re-release of its signature sleep & wellness tincture Equanimity – Michael Hollister’s favorite word in the English language. In December, 2019, Equanimity took Second Place for Best Tincture at the long-running cannabis competition Emerald Cup, a humbling validation of Medicine Box’s work by the OG NorCal cannabis community that inspired it. The company plans to release a specially-designed CBD formulary which Hollister used to wean Brian off of Prozac. Hollister created this formulary to aid consumers during substance use recovery and to assist in mental wellness, performing valuable R&D with Medicine Box on this project before his transition.
Our company would also have transitioned were it not for the healing strength of plant-based medicine. Our conviction in the abilities of mindfully cultivated, plant-based medicine to ease pain, calm minds or just assist people in a good night’s sleep has only strengthened over time. Whether it’s the cannabis medicine our staff uses every day or the raw material it has donated to the catastrophically ill children of the medical nonprofit Caladrius Network, Medicine Box remains committed to using nature’s contributions to treat the world’s suffering. We ALL need the healing of mindful, whole-plant wellness solutions now more than ever. Reinvigorated and renewed, Medicine Box looks forward to bringing you along for the journey.