“Cannabis is the most beneficial plant on the planet,” says Craig Zaffe, founder and CEO of Hemp For Life Wellness Inc. “You can heal yourself [with the plant], you can heal other people, and you can heal the planet.”

Who Is Hemp For Life Wellness Founder Craig Zaffe? All About The CBD Guy

Zaffe would know all about the holistic combination of living beings. Based in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, he is one of Long Island’s first organic farmers. A native of the area, he also proudly admits he’s been consuming cannabis since 1966, and is known today as “The CBD Guy” for his expertise in the most universally-beneficial cannabinoid. (It’s a moniker he’s particularly adopted for his podcast All Things CBD, available on YouTube.)

Over the years, Zaffe has been recognized for his pioneering work as a cannabis and wellness advocate, but his more recent venture with Hemp For Life Wellness, launched in 2021, has significantly expanded his industry footprint. For a long time, Zaffe’s work had piqued the interest of former New York Jets player Reginald “Reggie” Grant, who admired the educator’s approach to CBD. After periods of ups and downs surviving the volatile market, the two finally found the right time to take Hemp For Life Wellness public, at the Athletes In Cannabis conference that Grant co-founded. Also the co-founder and CEO of eSportsInstruction, Inc., Grant believed he could connect professional athletes with the brand as ideal spokespeople, especially for its signature product, OP6 CBD Sports Cream.

By spring 2023, the businessman had joined Hemp For Life Wellness as a full partner and Director of Marketing. Making good on his word, Grant brought a number of notables on as brand ambassadors, including former NFL players Walter Briggs, Dave DesRochers, and David Grayson Jr., former Major League Baseball player Arnie Costell, and American Basketball Association player Kendall “Glass” Felix.

Craig Zaffe, founder and CEO of Hemp For Life Wellness (C) Hemp For Life Wellness Inc.

How Is Hemp For Life Wellness Revitalizing CBD?

With Zaffe and Grant working together, Hemp For Life Wellness has taken on new life. Its OP6 CBD Sports Cream is a hit, and the brand’s various products are produced in collaboration with Pennsylvania’s Renu Labs, a leading topicals manufacturer. The company’s items are crafted with FDA-approved ingredients, and all Certificates of Analysis can be found on its website. While CBD has become ubiquitous in American culture, nothing beats products made with heart and dedication to the mission of the plant – and that’s why Hemp For Life Wellness stands out.

Craig Zaffe On CBD For Health, Hemp For Life Wellness, Working With Reggie Grant And Cannabis Athletes, And More

Honeysuckle caught up with Zaffe to delve more deeply into CBD’s effects on the human body, the future of Hemp For Life Wellness, and ways that everyone can live more healthfully. If you're still working on your New Year’s resolutions, add some of his tips to your list!

HONEYSUCKLE MAGAZINE: How do you explain the mission behind Hemp For Life Wellness?

CRAIG ZAFFE: I’m all about educating people to take charge of their own lives, their own health, so they don’t end up like our grandparents did – arthritic and in terrible shape and with no quality of life. The whole goal is to give people the right tools to make the right decisions, and they can be in charge of their health by just tweaking a couple of things in their lives. Marijuana is not for everybody. CBD is.

I explain to people that we all have an endocannabinoid system. We have 12 body systems, including respiratory, renal, nervous, etc. [The endocannabinoid system] is a biological system in charge of homeostasis, balance, and internal health, and it is in charge of all our other body systems… So if you don’t want to incorporate marijuana in your life, you can turn to CBD from hemp, or use a high-CBD-to-THC variety… And even if you don’t want to use CBD, there are other things you can do to balance your endocannabinoid system. There are correlations between what you eat, the health of your gut and the health of your brain. Your gut’s your second brain – if you have healthy [gut] bacteria, you have a healthier brain.

As one of Long Island’s first organic farmers, you not only understand how nutrition and fitness work together for health, but you also have a rich, diverse vegetable garden at home. What are the top three things that humans should be doing to get healthier?

First, you have to get off the couch and move the body. We’re not made to be sedentary. [Second], you are what you eat… I tell people there’s two things you can control: What you put in your mouth and what comes out of your mouth. Third, if you’re fortunate enough to have a backyard, you can [grow your own vegetables] a hundred percent organically. But even if you don’t, you can incorporate leafy greens like kale, [and other foods like] cauliflower, spices, nuts, and hempseed. They will help restore your endocannabinoid system.

New York’s adult-use industry is evolving, and we’re seeing more brands that were CBD get into that market. Is that something you’re thinking about, or do you always feel more drawn to pure CBD?

I love cannabis – sativa, indica. I love the plant. I use it every day. How I got into the CBD business originally was that I wanted to get a medical marijuana license [when New York went medically legal in 2014]. But North Shore LIJ, which was the largest hospital in New York State, applied and they got turned down. As a one-person business, I decided to get into CBD instead.

I’ve also been growing cannabis since 1987. I’m a compassionate grower… I’ve always grown it to help people out, [family and friends] with cancer; I’ve never sold it. But I want to start teaching people how to grow. One day, I’d like to grow legally more than [the current regulations] allow with six plants. Part of my plan is to be involved with both sides of the track, hemp and marijuana, because I believe so much in the plant. But it’s finding the right people to do it with.

This year was the first year I could grow in my garden instead of being a guerilla gardener, where you’d have to grow where people can’t see it. We can finally put it in our front yards without fear. Even if you don’t have a yard, if you have a sunny window, you can plant it in a window box. Now you have different types of seeds out there – regular seeds, feminized, and flowering. For a beginner, it’s a good introduction to how you can get into the cannabis world, just by planting auto-flowering seeds… Legally, you can get seeds across the country because there’s no THC in them. That’s part of the 2018 Farm Bill. It’s just so exciting to be here at this moment in time where we can have educated discussions about it.

You’ve said before that CBD will neutralize THC if someone’s had too much. Can you explain some of its other health benefits?

Some people don’t want to use CBD because they think it’s like marijuana. [But they don’t understand] the problem with pharmaceuticals, which is that the side effects go on forever. Pharmaceuticals mask our problems instead of curing them. That overtaxes your brain receptors, so you have to take more and more pharmaceuticals to get the same results – or you can incorporate more plant-based medicine and plant-based food into your routine and restore that balance. CBD can help you reduce the amount of pharmaceuticals you’re taking.

No one has ever overdosed on cannabis, or on CBD for that matter… The safety profile is fantastic. If you consume too much THC, you can take CBD. The CBD nudges the THC off the CB1 receptor, so you can catch your breath and feel less anxious… And I always tell people, less is more. You always want to be in control. If you’re going to use cannabis, you have to be smart about it.

Reggie Grant, Director of Marketing at Hemp For Life Wellness (C) ReggieGrant.com

How did you get Reggie Grant involved with Hemp For Life Wellness, and so many professional athletes as brand ambassadors?

I’ve always found connections between athletes and CBD. It started some years ago when [Super Bowl champion] Marvin Washington introduced me to Wesley Walker, another former Jet, who happened to live on Long Island. Through them, I met Ashun Jackson, [a former college football player], and became his mentor. I taught him how to grow cannabis for the last five years. [Ashun’s] father is Bobby Jackson, another former Jet, and he was Reggie Grant’s roommate.

About three years ago, Reggie and I were both speaking at an event in New Jersey. He called me the next day and said he was impressed with the brand and he wanted to hook me up with his eSports catalogue of athletes. Because [of various circumstances], that didn’t happen for a long time. But Reggie and I always kept in touch. He’s my shining knight. His wife loved my products too. Eventually he said, “We need to work together.”

Reggie helped me get set up with building the brand in a whole new way. We now have our group of athletes who are brand ambassadors – Dave DesRochers, Dave Grayson Jr., Arnie Costell, Walter Briggs, and Kendall “Glass” Felix. We also have a network that distributes our products coast to coast. It’s been a long, wonderful process to get to this point, but we know the demand is there. Everyone wants our OP6 CBD Sports Cream. The sky’s the limit.

OP6 CBD Sports Cream, Hemp For Life Wellness's signature product (C) Hemp For Life Wellness Inc.

Why do you think CBD is so beneficial for athletes?

If you’re in any kind of contact sport, you should incorporate CBD as part of your program. How many times are you going to have concussions? All the former athletes have been so beaten up their whole lives. They’re on different pharmaceuticals with all the side effects. So it’s wonderful when I speak to these former athletes who have said, “You’re the only CBD product that works, and you helped me get off my pain pills and I can live a much healthier life.” It makes me feel so good to help people; it’s a beautiful thing.

From all the Hemp For Life Wellness brand ambassadors, was there someone whose story really resonated with you?

Dave Grayson Jr. I don’t know how many different pharmaceuticals he’s been on for pain and depression. But now that he’s tried our CBD products, he’s been able to wean himself off pharmaceuticals and just incorporate CBD into his lifestyle. He feels healthier now, more clearheaded than before. He said to me, “I’ve tried many CBD products. People are always giving [athletes] stuff because they want to hang out with us. But your products are the only ones that actually work.” That’s why he and [the other ambassadors] want to be involved with the company, because they’re using the products and seeing the results.

When it comes to CBD, you believe in education first. How would you recommend the average consumer to start?

First of all, I have a CBD 101 manual for everyone in the company. You have to be in the room willing to have the discussion with people, and you have to be able to walk the walk and talk the talk. Cannabis is the most beneficial plant on the planet with over 25,000 uses since the history of mankind, from food to fiber to spirituality. And it’s part of our DNA.

So I encourage people to take charge of their own health… You have to do your own research. I send everybody to ProjectCBD.org. Whatever ailment you have, you type it in and they have all the scientific research. You can make an educated decision… and you feel more empowered, instead of waiting to go to the doctor who has not really been educated about the endo cannabinoid system. You have to educate your doctors when it comes to cannabis too. Again, for me, it’s all about planting that seed, that you take charge of your health by making just a couple changes in your lifestyle.

And of course, people should go to hempforlifewellness.com. Our goal really is to educate everybody, so that the end result is you look better, feel better, are more pleasant to be around and you’ll get to enjoy your life.

What’s next for you and Hemp For Life Wellness?

I have the YouTube podcast, All Things CBD, that’s dropping more episodes… People have been booking me to speak about CBD 101 – you can reach out to me at craigzaffe.com about that. I’m looking forward to just getting out there, spreading the word, making more connections, being more involved with everybody working for the same cause. Hopefully we can all make a righteous living.

And I’m grateful to be partners with Reggie, because he’s such an incredible force of nature. He’s just so positive. He adds value to everybody’s life and it’s a joy having someone like that on my team. When we’re all working for the same cause, we can move mountains. Reggie gets that.

I mean, we’ve been waiting a lifetime for this to happen. Cannabis has been the most persecuted crop in history. Our brothers and sisters have been put in jail just for having that plant in our possession. So how wonderful now that in New York State – and New York City, the cannabis capital of the world – that you can just enjoy the plant without fear of somebody knocking down your door. But we also have to appreciate how much time, effort, and sacrifice we all made to get to this point… You can’t ignore the science anymore. The science is there.

For more about Hemp For Life Wellness and CBD education, visit hempforlifewellness.com. To learn more about Craig Zaffe and upcoming speaking engagements, visit craigzaffe.com.


Written By:

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Craig Zaffe

Reginald "Reggie" Grant

Walter Briggs

Dave DesRochers

David Grayson Jr.

Kendall "Glass" Felix

Wesley Walker

Ashun Jackson

Project CBD

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(C) Craig Zaffe