Vertical Wellness Inks Deals With Tech-Holdings, GenCanna And Kathy Ireland 'To Weather Storm'


Vertical Wellness continues to expand despite the daunting challenges being faced amid the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic and current economic downturn.

The company, faced with its own challenges, inked several partnerships aimed at establishing itself as a leader in the hemp and CBD industry.

The Deals

Vertical Wellness expanded its strategic processing and extraction partnership with GenCanna. As part of the agreement, GenCanna will deliver more than 15 million pounds of unprocessed hemp to Vertical Wellness’ production facility in Cadiz, Kentucky.

In addition, Vertical acquired Tech Holdings, a company that invented and patented a procedure that allows delivering cannabinoid ingredients in a way that makes them more effective and faster-acting.

Finally, Vertical signed a licensing partnership with Kathy Ireland Worldwide for a CBD product line.

“The team at Tech-Holdings accomplished what few in the industry could by delivering products with the ability to be more effective and faster acting,” Vertical CEO Smoke Wallin told Benzinga. “It’s a game changer that will help distinguish our products from others.”

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This, combined with the expansion of Vertical’s relationship with GenCanna to increase processing and extolling ability for higher volumes of biomass, “further positions Vertical Wellness as an industry leader in the hemp and CBD industry, and allow us to continue in an upward trajectory,” he added.

Commenting on Tech Holdings’ technology itself, Wallin said Vertical aspires to be a true health and wellness brand company.

“We understand the branding and distribution world as well or better than anyone in the industry,” he said. “Adding to that capability by strategically bringing in developed IP for better delivery of cannabinoid derived products is a core part of achieving our vision… You can expect more strategic moves along these lines as we go forward.”

Pivot To Survive

Last Fall, Vertical Wellness was 36 hours away from executing a reverse merger with a $230 million Nasdaq-traded SPAC at a $500 million valuation. That deal evaporated in the midst of the hemp and CBD market collapse, which was driven by a massive harvest coupled with a lack of processing solutions and FDA headwinds.

“We harvested 4 million lbs of our own hemp, which we could not easily convert to cash,” Wallin said. “I recognized that the capital markets were going to be tough for some time and getting public was not a realistic short-term funding mechanism. At that point, my team had a series of strategy meetings on how to weather the coming storm.”

Vertical had invested some $22 million in building out the company, but the demand for large amounts of CBD oil was not there yet.

Meanwhile, its brand portfolio was at the launch stage, and required investment. Wallin knew he had to pivot to survive.

“By February I watched seven of the largest companies in the hemp/CBD processing that together had raised almost $400 million go bankrupt or out of business,” he said. “At that time, I made the decision to lay off 60 members of our team just as the shutdown for COVID19 began. That’s when we pivoted and created Vertical Wellness Services Division to utilize our infrastructure investment in Kentucky.”

Leveraging his investment banking relationships, Wallin landed introductions to some of the groups trying to recover investments in these distressed companies.

“This enabled us to ramp up our services business, help investors in other hemp processors and cover our operating costs,” he said.

The company has since been able to rehire more than 40 of the teammates that had been terminated, and expects to have a larger team than before the pandemic in just a few more weeks.

“In retrospect, we made a great move at the right moment of time to cut costs and survive. Sometimes surviving is the CEOs mission,” he concluded. “Now I’m back to what I love to do, which is growth.”

Courtesy image.



kathy ireland® Worldwide Expands Health and Wellness Advocacy

kathy ireland® Worldwide Expands Health and Wellness Advocacy Through Partnership with Vertical Wellness™ for New Line of Innovative CBD Products

Los Angeles, CA – May 13, 2020 – Vertical Wellness™, an industry leader in the Hemp cannabinoid health and wellness space, has partnered with kathy ireland® Worldwide (kiWW®) for CBD products. The announcement was made by Smoke Wallin, Chairman and CEO of the California-based company. The new strategic relationship encompasses all CBD product categories, including beauty, health and wellness, pets, edibles and more. The products will be marketed under the kiWW® brands — kathy ireland® Health and Wellness, kathy ireland® Better Living, kathy ireland® Loved Ones, kathy ireland® Gracie & Delilah, Kathleen Marie New York, MIVI Co-Founded by Tommy Meharey, Friday Nights, and Sunday Dinner. As part of the strategic collaboration, Ms. Ireland will be joining Vertical Wellness’ Advisory Board.  

“We are ecstatic to work with Kathy Ireland and her incredibly creative executive team, to bring the benefits of Hemp CBD to a diverse customer base from all walks of life,” says Smoke Wallin, Chairman and CEO of Vertical WellnessInc™. “kathy ireland® Worldwide is one of the most powerful brands in the world, and adding Kathy to our advisory board and leadership brings Vertical Wellness™ a leader recognized as one of the most influential women in business globally. I look forward to learning from Kathy as she brings us her unique perspective and insights.”  

Wallin adds, “Building innovative brands to help consumers improve their access to natural health and wellness solutions is our mission. Kathy and the organization she built, kiWW®, epitomizes the values-based leadership I believe in and have aspired to my entire business career. It is ingrained in our company’s culture. Aligning both of our organizations enables Vertical Wellness™ to achieve this mission on an even greater level. I can’t think of a better time to invest in the future and look forward to working with Kathy and the whole team at kiWW® on this incredibly great endeavor.” 

Chef Andre Carthen, Brand Ambassador and Co-Founder for kiWW’s Friday Nights and Sunday Dinner, also known as ‘The Fit Chef,’ Ms. Ireland and Jon Carrasco, EVP and Global Creative Director for kathy ireland® Worldwide will work with Mr. Wallin and his team on developing the products. Stephen Roseberry, President and CMO for kathy ireland® Worldwide, who leads and guides the company’s marketing initiatives, will address the same responsibilities.  

“We are honored and delighted for this astounding new partnership with Vertical Wellness™,” says Ms. Ireland, Chair, CEO and Chief Designer of kiWW®, who is named among the top ten women’s health advocates in America, according to UCLA. “We have long been invested in the CBD space, and we are so passionate about all the cutting-edge research and developments demonstrating the countless benefits on the health and wellness of people, as well as pets. Our new products are derived from the highest-quality Hemp plants, and are THC-free, providing the countless beneficial elements of the Hemp plant, without any psychotropic side-effects. Everything we have done at kathy ireland® Worldwide has led to this extraordinary moment.” 

Ms. Ireland adds, “Smoke’s knowledge and expertise in the Hemp industry is at the forefront of the industry – from cultivation and sourcing of Hemp seeds to product development and more, Smoke and his team’s brilliant background is second to none. Just as importantly, Smoke and his team represent the core values and ethics that our company strives for in our partnerships. Both of our companies share the same passion in bringing our customers the most state-of-the-art, innovative CBD products to improve quality of life, as well as a shared dedication of improving the human condition around the world through philanthropic initiatives.” kathy ireland® Worldwide is committed to social responsibility with every partner, client and licensee supporting its Millennium Development Goals. As part of the partnership, Vertical Wellness will be supporting two of these goals – Bringing opportunities of financial stability and healthcare to American veterans and their families; and ensuring environmental sustainability. 

The new kathy ireland® CBD products will be available for purchase in late 2020 through various online stores and local and national retail locations.  

About Vertical Wellness™

Vertical Wellness is a leading multi-national vertically integrated health and wellness company with a focus on natural Hemp cannabinoid solutions. Vertical Wellness (VWEL) has operations in California and Kentucky and cultivated over 1,800 acres of hemp on partner farms in 2019. VWEL is led by an executive team of entrepreneurs and business leaders from the alcohol beverage, agriculture, CPG, distribution, entertainment, food, fashion, healthcare, and medical industries. Our mission is help people by bringing the most innovative and effective portfolio of CBD and healthy brands to the market. VWEL Services™ leverages our extensive investment and team knowledge by helping the entire industry with strategic, financial, brand, sales and processing solutions. Initial VWEL brands launching include Taos™, Lap Dog™, Par5™, Halogenix™, Wingra Farms™, Neutrate™, USMCC™, and Hemp-Moji™ with others to follow.

About kathy ireland® Worldwide (kiWW®)

kiWW® is listed as one of the most powerful brands in the world by License Global Magazine. Kathy Ireland is named one of the 19 most influential women in licensing by License Global magazine and according to Fairchild Publications, Kathy Ireland is one of the 50 most influential people in fashion. Furniture Today names Kathy one of the most influential leaders in the furniture industry. Kathy graces the cover of Forbes Magazine twice (2012, 2016). kiWW® is responsible for billions of dollars in retail sales. kiWW® is the recipient of multiple awards including several Good Housekeeping Seals. Kathy and kiWW® support many non-profits including: women and children’s health, HIV/AIDS, Education, human freedom, life, wars against religious persecution and violence. Kathy is a Board Member of the NFLPA, WNBPA Board of Advocates, an Ambassador and donor for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and International Youth Chair for the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

For Media Inquiries:

Rona Menashe 

Guttman Associates


Allowing CBD products in New Jersey could give economy a boost

Allowing CBD products in New Jersey could give economy a boost

May 3, 2020|CBD, congress, hemp, Regulation

Allowing CBD products in New Jersey could give the economy a boost | Opinion 

#cbd #hemp #fda #congress #recovery #cannabis



By Star-Ledger Guest Columnist

By Smoke Wallin

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the economy small businesses are paying a heavy price. A record number of unemployment applications and bankruptcies are being filed weekly and officials say the worse is yet to come.

With so many industries absorbing the shock and strain of the financial crisis public officials and leaders should seek every solution to help protect and lift business owners. One such solution exists, and it’s a simple one.

The market for oils, capsules, body lotions, and other products containing cannabidiol, better known as CBD derived from hemp, has been rapidly growing. But there’s room for further expansion with ingestibles. What the industry needs is for the FDA to take action and classify CBD as a food additive or supplement enabling it to be included in food, beverages and supplements.



The hemp industry, now legal to farm and cultivate in New Jersey, employs thousands of workers in America, and the growth trajectory remains strong long-term. Yet it could be even greater for New Jersey farmers if CBD ingestibles were allowed to be sold in mainstream retailers and online stores. This would allow companies like Walmart and Target to get fully behind the CBD category. Industry experts estimate the potential associated market with CBD edibles, beverages and other products could exceed $23 billion by 2023.

There’s already support from several members of Congress. Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota has also introduced a bipartisan Bill HR 5587 co-sponsored by both Rep. Comer and Massie of Kentucky, that would allow FDA-regulated, hemp-derived CBD to be marketed in dietary supplements and as food and beverage additives.



Not only would it provide a boost to the multi-billion dollar industry but it would help keep current hemp businesses thriving in the newly opened market here.

If the FDA had taken action, several companies from Kentucky to Colorado to Pennsylvania might have avoided bankruptcy. Those companies, at least in part, blamed the FDA’s inaction on ingestibles for their decline. This one policy change would have saved hundreds of jobs and kept revenue streaming into local restaurants, shops, stores and communities.

As many Americans know hemp plants and hemp-derived CBD are from cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC and are not psychoactive and therefore cannot get you “high.”

CBD is widely used by millions and safe. Oils and topicals are applied for a variety of reasons from healing potential to pain relief to reducing anxiety.

There’s no reason why common-sense policy should not prevail especially in a time of crisis.

The FDA can help small business owners and farmers in New Jersey and take action by allowing CBD ingesitbles into the marketplace.

It’s an easy win for us all at very difficult time for the economy and does not require bailout dollars from the Federal Government.

Smoke Wallin is CEO of Vertical Wellness, a leading multi-national vertically integrated brand company in the Hemp-based CBD industry.

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