Women of Influence: Dawn Hackney

Dawn Hackney is blazing a trail of hemp, and hope, as CEO and president of GreenTree Natural Wellness Center. Hers is a cannabis category crusade: helping people achieve wellness through third-party-tested products free of THC and pesticides. She describes ‘business as usual’ in her industry as a constant onslaught of regulatory mandates and a pervasive need to educate the public.

Her Did you Know? highlight reel reads like the following:

Hemp and CBD are the same thing. Hemp oil is the term deemed acceptable by retailers and regulatory agencies to denote CBD.

CBD (Hemp oil) will not make you “high.”

The quality hemp oil used in GreenTree Naturals products is different from products purely made from hemp seed.

Hackney wasn’t always a hemp expert. During her 20+ years in corporate America, she earned Tampa CFO of the Year honors and saw herself on a consistent career path. A doctor’s admonition changed that. She became determined to find an alternative treatment for her children.

“The doctor told me that we needed to get a cardiac test for both my kids because the medication they were going to be prescribed for ADD and ADHD is bad for the heart,” she says. “I knew there had to be a safer way.”

Could hemp be the answer? Hackney became a student of the subject, flew to Colorado to tour fields and talk with growers among plants towering at 6-7 feet tall. Back in her kitchen, she took a year to experiment with different formulas and devised a tincture. The moment of truth arrived: It worked; her children didn’t need potentially harmful medication after all. No cardiac tests here.

“I felt confident in giving it to my kids. Here was an oil from a plant; I had researched its effects and formulated it myself,” she says.

Fast-forward two years and Hackney decided to pivot. She founded GreenTree in 2017. Hackney credits her past work life, which involved companies funding clinical research trials, as a major benefit. She already knew the process of how a drug goes to market. Today, she builds similar trust in business relationships, like the one she cultivates with the Oregon farm that supplies her company’s hemp. She works closely with a health care attorney and is licensed with the Florida Department of Agriculture.

Today, GreenTree Natural Wellness Center manufactures and sells lotion, tinctures and coffee. All are available through their website, greentreewellnesscenter.com, and through select retailers. There’s a bath bomb infused with hemp for those who need to de-stress (in the age of COVID-19, which seems to be roughly 100% of the population). Hemp oil tinctures to calm, rejuvenate and soothe. And though stay at home orders hit the retail locations that sell GreenTree products hard the time is right for it to gain more fans, Hackney believes.

No, hemp oil is not approved by the FDA, but then again, as Hackney points out, neither are vitamins. The Sunshine State still has a way to go in terms of consistency when it comes to regulatory transparency but as early as 2019, other countries began to contact the company for advice. The next frontier for GreenTree is likely Brazil. Hackney is in discussions with a pharmaceutical company there.

“It’s ironic, of course, because this is not a pharmaceutical drug that we’re selling,” she says.

It’s a matter of time before hemp oil gets its due, she believes. Clinical trials are already underway to treat a multitude of conditions, from ADD to Alzheimer’s Disease. And throughout it all, Hackney will keep educating physicians, and the general public, about the efficacy of the plant. Making sure messaging is clear, and concise, for those who sell GreenTree products, which range from tinctures to balms to gummies, is her goal.

“It’s a daily struggle,” she says. “But I’ve come across something that is natural, and safe, and helps people….so I’m dedicated to educating one person at a time.” ♦

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