Executive Spotlight: Constance Finley, Constance Therapeutics

She is the Founder of Constance Therapeutics. She’s also the Chief Executive Officer, the head of Research & Development and she owns all the company patents. “The work is mine,” said Constance Finley. Her company is now 10 years old, she has 11 employees and has begun globally licensing her products. There is so much demand for her products, she plans to hire more people.

Finley’s success didn’t come easily though. The road that got her on this current path could have had a more tragic turn. Finley had been a successful executive until she came down with a rare condition called ankylosing spondylitis. She was an invalid, unable to leave her house for 15 years. The pharmaceutical medicines she was taking cost upwards of $6,000 a month.   With nothing left to lose, she tried medical marijuana. “It gave me back my life,” said Finley.

She embarked on a journey to research the plant, grow it herself and develop her own CBD extracts. “People told me back then there was no market for this since the black market was so strong,” she said, “But everything I have done has been legal.” The word got out and a doctor began sending her stage 4 brain cancer patients, who also had exhausted their traditional treatments and had nothing left to lose. When they went into remission, more and more patients began flocking to her. So far, out of this group she has had 97% go into remission. The demand grew to the point that she could no longer grow her own cannabis. Her products are only for medicinal clients (at this time) and specifically uses a ratio with CBD and THC.

Her company grew too. She was offered $12 million for her company back in June of 2013 when the company’s annual revenue was only $300,000. “I seriously thought about it,” she said. She was even approached to go public but has chosen to hold onto her company. Then she found an investor she trusted called Slow Ventures. She just closed a Series B financing round and said she is set for equity now. “Silicon Valley wants my patents. Blackrock valued them at $12 million at one time and the company at $34 million,” said Finley. “Most everyone though assumes that we’re past a $50 million valuation by now.”

While it sounds like a Cinderella story, it wasn’t. Finley said she didn’t pay herself a salary for seven years. She sold her BMW coupe, her Steinway baby grand piano and even took money out against her house. She didn’t endure all that sacrifice just to quickly give up control of her company or give away her patents. “You have to fight for autonomy,” said Finley, “As a woman, you have to fight ten times as hard to keep your autonomy and get your work recognized, even in this emerging field.” She added with a chuckle, “And try being 65, right? And people walk in and say ‘no, no,no’, this 110-pound woman did not write these patents. Where’s your Ph.D. in Chemistry?”

Now Constance Therapeutics is in FDA approved research through Tetra BioPharma (TBPMF). “I’m really proud I got us to this level of research,” she said. She is also looking for ways to steer consumers towards good products. She’s working with the American Herbal  Products Association and working with Congress. “There are lots of “me too” CBD products that are swamping the market. “People like me have serious work with real evidence,” said Finley, “It’s insulting the people would go on the internet and buy this stuff. It’s often toxic. It’s not an evidence-based product.”

As a female executive, Finley is happy to be part of a shift in the perception of cannabis, especially among women. “Women traditionally haven’t been users of psychoactive drugs like men. There’s a sort of right of passage that men tend to have that women do not. Women also tend to have discomfort with any feeling of being out of control.” Finley is now focusing some of her research on helping with symptoms surrounding menstruation.

Finley says she has a hard time even looking back at the time of her illness, but the result has been life-changing. She can now help improve other people’s health. She travels the world speaking about her research and the product that saved not only her life, but is saving others as well.

Debra Borchardt

Debra Borchardt is the Co-Founder, and Executive Editor of GMR. She has covered the cannabis industry for several years at Forbes, Seeking Alpha and TheStreet. Prior to becoming a financial journalist, Debra was a Vice President at Bear Stearns where she held a Series 7 and Registered Investment Advisor license. Debra has a Master's degree in Business Journalism from New York University.

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