After a cozy little ride down to Branford, I found myself on Main St. U.S.A. Such a happy and cute downtown area… It made me think of Mayberry. I wanted to whistle and go fishing with Andy Griffith. It’s a special place along the Connecticut shore line and the home of Better Ways LLC. Their door is always open and they’re always happy to talk.
This is the place. I was certain…
Before we got down to brass tacks, we had coffee. Not just any coffee mind you. This was a special recipe, home brewed (I love it). It was 1 scoop of Better Way CBD(25mg) Hot Cocoa. 15mg of mocha flavored emulsified MCT oil from Onnit, 1ml 67mg Better Ways Broad Spectrum Tincture, a few scoops of Willoughby Panama Kotowa Duncan Blend Coffee, and some decarbed butter featuring Sour Pinot x Cookie Dawg. Not meant for your casual coffee drinker… Then we fired up 2 phatties of Strawberry Cheesecake. A breakfast of champions. The start of a perfect morning…
Meet Duncan Markovich. Co-Founder and owner of Better Ways LLC. “I’ve always wanted to do something I was passionate about and something that would make me feel good about myself. Teaching people about Cannabis is totally that.”
Better Ways LLC opened in April 2019. Once the U.S. Farm Bill was signed in December of 2018 the partnership that started the project all got together and took a good look at what was happening in the Hemp/CBD market. They also took a look at the Cannabis Industry as a whole from genetics to retailing. They realized that with this new industry coming online there were two very important aspects to be concerned with. Quality products (quality and safety are of the highest concern), education on how cannabinoids affect our bodies, and a safe inviting environment for their patrons.
“One of biggest concerns we had moving into this business was quality and safety. It was almost like overnight when this became legalized that you suddenly saw it in gas stations, grocery stores, and all over the internet. But people still had many concerns about sourcing, quality, and education. Not everybody knows the benefits of Cannabis.” Duncan told me. “We’ve been given an immense power with Cannabis legalization. What are we doing with it?” Duncan concluded.
“Being that this is an unregulated market,tell me about some of the concerns you have faced and what did you do to overcome those concerns?” I asked.
“Did you know only 1/3 of CBD products on the market match their label claims?” Duncan asked.
“That was one of the biggest concerns. Because this isn’t regulated, there are so many fly by night companies out there that are claiming their product has this, or has that, and it had none of those things or very little of them. Not only was this a concern on a national focus, but even here in CT.”
We discussed several local companies as well as a few national brands not living up to their labels right here in CT. “This helped to drive our personal presentation. We did this from the get go with complete transparency.”
“Once the state got on board we wanted to ensure everything was done “By the books”. Before we opened, we didn’t even have furniture yet, we had town planners and the fire marshal in to inspect on safety. We talked to town hall about what we were doing, we talked to the police commissioner, the fire chief, and even the health department. We were like ‘This is who we are, this is what we are doing, and these are our test results for our products.’ That was going to be the only way to do it.” Duncan concluded.
“That’s great that you got the town on your side from the start. What was your next biggest hurdle with opening your business?” I asked.
“CT hadn’t even classified cannabinoids in food or beverage products when we opened. Of course, this was the first thing people wanted when we opened. Everyone loves gummies. Plus when we got started, there weren’t really any CT products at the time. So, we really had to figure out what our minimum requirements for our products were going be and we needed to figure out who we would be sourcing from. Are we going west coast? Do we reach out to CO? And how do we make it ours? It still had to be something that we designed and built from the ground up.” said Duncan.
“Where there any discoveries during your product creation?” I asked.
“By building these products is where we found our focus which has become what Better Ways represents. Outside of focusing on Cannabis we look at nootropics, memory, mood stabilizations, focus, and gut health. So those are our topics here at Better Ways and we help people to balance their bodies with plant based medicines. If a person can just balance one of those things if not all of them, that’s when a person will see an increase to their quality of life.
Unfortunately we find that people are mostly looking for a quick fix. They aren’t looking to put in the time or labor to their wellness. I feel this is where the dangers of Big Pharma come into play. Because it’s all automated, right? The doctor sees you for a hot minute and tends to just flip the script and moves to the next patient. I don’t hear many talking about plant based medicines. I don’t hear them talking about holistic applications. People view their doctors as the center wisdom, yet people seem to only obtain a fraction of the information that they need.
There is a very healthy blend of Western and Eastern medicine that can come into play. Not just one over the other, but both. There has to be a blend, there has to be a balance. That’s where I feel we come into play.
We give people the opportunity to just learn a little bit more of what the other alternatives are. We give them all this information so they can make an educated and informed decision on their health.
I also make sure to tell people that I’m not a licensed medical professional. But I know this is how Cannabis works. I know this is how the human body works. I know how the body interacts with Cannabis; that I can be totally confident about. I want to help others think outside of the box.” Duncan concluded.
“I see you have a loyalty program for your customers. Is there anything else Better Way has in place to help with costs. I’m sure you hear it all the time ‘Is this covered by insurance?’ “, I asked
“Luckily Better Way is signed up with Square’s CBD program. It actually allows for me to take a person’s HSA card. Do you know what that does for some people? Especially if they’re retired on a fixed income. Something like this helps to open up their health and wellness to other resources. That is massive. People at that point in their life shouldn’t have to worry about that stuff. It’s immense.” Duncan replied.
“I know you stock quite a few of local producers of CBD products and I think that it’s wonderful. But what is your product line. Please, tell me about your stuff.” I inquired.
“We have a 500mg Broad Spectrum pet tincture. It is salmon oil based and has perna canaliculus added to it. We source it from New Zealand and this naturally mimics glucosamine. This aids the animals overall joint, muscle, tendon, and ligament health. This is important for ANY animal.
Plus of course we always have a conversation with the concerned pet owner about dosage and how it is weight dependent. If need be we’ll sit down and help the pet owner dial all that in. Everyone has been pretty happy with that product.
Next is our 2000mg hemp seed oil base broad spectrum oil. That was in your coffee this morning. This product was designed for the 1st responder, union workers, state employees, or anyone else concerned with THC showing up in a drug test. Or even someone who has an oversensitivity to THC. So this one was created intentionally with 0 THC. Not everyone wants THC and that’s okay the next best step is going with a broad spectrum product.
We do get police and firemen coming in to inquire about the benefits of our products. We wouldn’t want to jeopardize anyone’s livelihood in any way. First responders should be using Cannabis to help deal with any physical or mental stresses while in their lines of duty.”
“You’ve mentioned two broad spectrum now… Do you offer any full spectrum products to the public?” I interrupted.
“We have a full spectrum caramel vanilla grape seed oil based tincture. This product supports the science behind the entourage effect. With the understanding that even with a tiny amount of THC completes the puzzle and has all the molecules working together as a team. This is obviously when it is most affective. I’m also a little bit of a coffee snob and wanted tincture I could add to my coffee. Even if I want to drink it black it doesn’t wildly overthrow the flavor. So, the caramel vanilla flavor is very subtle and mild.
We also have a full spectrum night time tincture. This is obviously to help with a sleep protocol. People who either have issues falling asleep or staying asleep. This is not a CBN dominate formula. But we do add a few herbal ingredients to assist in sleeping. Those ingredients are Black Cumin, Passion Flower, and Lemon Myrtle which all work really well together to promote sleep. So, those are our 4 tinctures…”
”Edibles are very popular. Do you make any Better Way edibles?”
“We do offer food products. We have our 500mg full spectrum hot coco. Our premium Full Spectrum Hot Cocoa Mix is just the thing needed on a cold day to warm up or just relax. I put that in your coffee too. It’s what gave it the mocha flavor. This tin comes with 20 servings of 25 mg per serving. Add hot water or milk and enjoy or put it in your coffee or smoothies too! It a really well blended coco but it isn’t high on the calories. Especially for a health and wellness store. We can’t have crazy rich hot chocolate. But you can adjust the sweetness to your taste.
Then there is our full spectrum infused agave nectar. We source the agave from Mexico and with our health and wellness focus we wanted to keep everyone in mind. So we want to be able to assist people wanting healthier options when it come to natural sweeteners. So with agave it’s hypoglycemic. So those concerned with sugar levels, agave has a very low impact. It’s got a great natural sweet flavor to it.
Edibles are the next normalization of Cannabis consumption. Not everyone wants to smoke, vape, or do a dab. That’s okay. That’s where things like this come into play.
We also make this amazing honey. This product is really special to me. It’s a 500mg full spectrum honey. The honey comes from not even 2 miles down the road from a farm right here in Branford. What’s great is that the honey on it’s own is that there are over 500 wild flowers species around the hives. So the flavor of this honey is extremely robust. Because the bees have access to such a wide variety of flower, the antihistamines properties are a touching on everything… It’s full spectrum all around.
The last item we make isn’t an edible, but a topical. We have a 3600mg isolate topical. We work with the same folks that make Icy Hot. So this is the only product that is not manufactured in CT. But it is made here in the U.S. But everything else is made right here in CT. To the best of my knowledge it’s currently the strongest one offered in the state.
I truly think everyone should be using Cannabis. If you’re under 18 it should be hemp and CBD products. If you’re over 21 ‘marijuana’ products. Absolutely. The benefits of this plant still continue to be unlocked. Especially since hemp/CBD has become federally legal.
To me cannabis is just cannabis… Especially now that it is legal.”