By Beth Waterfall
College sweethearts Angela Brown and Brian Cusick are on a mission to elevate cannabis edibles and concentrates. In October 2017 Cusick, a medical marijuana patient and experienced commercial project manager, and Brown, a business development executive experienced in the technology startup, seafood and manufactured food products industries, founded T. Bear, Inc. (TBI) to create a marquis marijuana products brand that consumers trust—and demand.
But great ideas often require great preparation and patience. And for Brown, operating a cannabis business of any kind had never crossed her mind. “Even though Brian was a medical marijuana patient, I was very against it,” she said.
It wasn’t until she heard a woman speak at a book club event about the success she’d experienced in treating her digestive and sleep issues with medical marijuana, that Brown dove into researching how it might help her own similar issues. “When I finally used cannabis for the first time at almost 30 years old, the relief was something I’d never experienced. I wanted to share that with others somehow.”
Throughout their relationship, the couple has often talked about and bonded over entrepreneurial dreams. After the successful passage of Massachusetts ballot Question 4 in October 2016—and twelve years after first meeting as students at Fitchburg State University—the couple experienced an “aha” moment together and set out on their journey with Brian’s father, Donald Guzzetti, to create TBI.
“I was attending networking events designed for cannabis entrepreneurs, and I met other people like us who shared our goals,” Cusick explained. “I told Angela, ‘you have to come meet these like-minded professionals who are not only working in and creating these cannabis businesses but really leading the industry’.”
“Attending that first event together changed the course of our lives,” added Brown. “A light bulb went off and I saw that we could not only get involved, but we could be real market leaders in the legal cannabis industry.”
From there, the couple devoted their spare time to researching the industry, attending Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) meetings, working with cultivators and processors to gain hands-on experience, and exploring various product formulations and possibilities for their own cannabis business plan. As regulations unfolded in Massachusetts, Cusick and Brown grew confident to pursue a manufacturing license from the CCC for TBI to create a variety of high-quality cannabis products using organic, all-natural ingredients.
The next challenge was determining a location for the business, which, due to widespread bans and moratoria across the Commonwealth, could have been a difficult task. But Brown and Cusick had their eyes on Wareham, which is welcoming licensed cannabis businesses to meet its need for a resurgence of local business activity and jobs. In May 2018, TBI secured the required Community Host Agreement and an 8,000 square-foot facility on Cranberry Highway in Wareham.
“This will be a win for all our neighbors with the improvements TBI will make to the site and the jobs we’ll create for local families,” Cusick said. “We’re grateful to the town of Wareham for supporting us as real contributors to the local business community.”
TBI has already onboarded its first full-time employee, an experienced medical marijuana facility operator from Connecticut. But as the company moves full-steam ahead, the Cannabis Control Commission recently announced that they will be heavily scrutinizing all packaging, naming, advertising and ingredient details associated with edibles and other marijuana products in an effort to ensure that the products and their packaging do not appeal to children.
TBI is prepared. And after being awarded a provisional license from the CCC on the same day that adult-use sales commenced in the Commonwealth, they’re also energized to continuing their fundraising efforts and commence construction on the Wareham facility.
“Compliance, integrity and our commitment to creating an enduring line of products that our customers can rely on are at the core of every decision we make,” said Brown. “We’re building T. Bear to be a standard-setter for the cannabis industry and food manufacturing industry in Massachusetts and beyond.”
TBI’s product line includes various gourmet edibles, a high-end vaporizer cartridge, and concentrates, including rosin and ice water hash. Online cannabis research community Weedmaps defines marijuana concentrates as “products made from the cannabis plant that have been processed to keep only the most desirable plant compounds (primarily the cannabinoids and terpenes), while removing excess plant material and other impurities.”
To learn more about T. Bear, Inc. visit www.tbearinc.com.
Cannabis Innovators: Angela Brown and Brian Cusick
By Beth Waterfall