Ruben Cross: Kushy Punch
Like many, he wasn’t easily convinced of the medicinal benefits of cannabis… at first. Then, after making the step to educate himself on all things cannabinoids, CBD, and THC, he has now developed a supremely effective line of products for patients suffering from various conditions. Ruben Cross is an extraordinarily driven individual who’s vision is simply to make the world a better place by developing products that will help people live healthier lives – and he’s certainly making a large impact with Kushy Punch.
What is the story behind your involvement with the cannabis industry?
You know, it all started back when I was visiting friends in San Francisco and them telling me about what they were doing in the business. At that time, I was preoccupied developing dating sites, online personals, and e-commerce businesses and although this opportunity piqued my interest, it seemed like it was still a little too early for me to join. My lawyer was completely against it and my dad thought I was going to become a drug dealer, so I let the idea go.
Fast forward three years later, my dad and my brother came to me with a change of mind, “Hey, maybe we should get into the cannabis business.” At that point, I was still fully involved with the development of dating sites, but offered to pitch in where I had the time. For about 6 years, I watched them from the outside before finally joining them myself. They managed the shops and I did the marketing for them, did a lot of consulting for them regarding what they could and couldn’t do, and I helped them expand to seven different shops all across California, all the way to Colorado.
Then came the turning point when I sold my dating sites, deciding that I wanted to do something that really made me feel good about myself, something that would give me a way to give back to the community. Even though dating sites were great and I went to a lot of weddings because people were meeting their partners on the sites, I felt like this was the future, especially with everything I was reading about pertaining to the cannabinoids, CBD and THC, and what it’s doing for people’s health. I knew I had to get into it. I felt like it was my true calling is to be able to help people. So, we got started developing a couple of products, vended them to a couple of different places, and ultimately realized that we needed to go into this with a strong brand: Kushy Punch.
Even though dating sites were great and I went to a lot of weddings because people were meeting their partners on the sites, I felt like this was the future, especially with everything I was reading about pertaining to the cannabinoids, CBD and THC, and what it’s doing for people’s health. I knew I had to get into it. I felt like it was my true calling is to be able to help people.
What were you doing before?
Due to the Non-Disclosure Agreement I signed when I sold my dating websites, I’m unable to discuss that part of my career in particular, but I can tell you that we did marketing with my other company for numerous fortune 500 companies, like Burger King, so that’s an expertise of mine. That’s what my degree is in and that’s what my background is in. In developing dating sites, I built the social network for them from ground up; I’ve built all our sites from the ground up while working with a team of programmers in India, Ukraine, and Romania. My team was spread out across the world, but it’s very different in comparison to what I’m doing in this industry.
It’s not just me on my laptop being able to work from anywhere in the world; what I’m doing now with Kushy Punch requires cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution, which is something you cannot do remotely. It’s a whole new ball game, so it’s been a learning curve for me.
What other industry might you compare the ‘green rush’ to and why?
In some aspects, you can compare it to the dot com era [the boom] back in 1998. Just like then, everyone wants to get into the business, but a lot of people don’t know what it takes to be in the business. While the investors are very green, they don’t know what to expect. A lot of the old hippies that people used to criticize are now the ones running it all. The only difference is the factor of creativity: In the dot com, you had to create something brand new and come up with a new service, but in the cannabis industry, that’s not the case – this has been a medicine of the people for thousands of years. It’s really just being released from prohibition.
I can also compare it to the alcohol industry. During prohibition, the bootleggers were the ones supplying the alcohol and some of those bootleggers became the Johnnie Walker‘s, the leaders of the legal industry. I feel like it’s definitely similar to both of those. I don’t know how it worked during the alcohol period when prohibition ended; if investors started jumping into it or not, but I know that in the dot com era, I see the same thing happening with the investors pouring in. Just know this, we’re still not out of the red zone; something like this happened back in the ’70s where all but ten states legalized it and it was then that the feds came down. It’s still a battle and I like being part of that battle; I like being in the gray area where you have the ability to really make a difference. It takes courage knowing that they can come and shut down your lab and put you in jail for it. It takes someone like us to be able to risk that to make the change we want to see. It takes someone who is fearless because if everyone was scared, there would be no progress.
It’s still a battle and I like being part of that battle; I like being in the gray area where you have the ability to really make a difference. It takes courage knowing that they can come and shut down your lab and put you in jail for it. It takes someone like us to be able to risk that to make the change we want to see.
Right now, where are you guiding your passion and energy towards?
A new medicine. We’re doing a lot of research on our own, trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. We have numerous customers who have epileptic kids who we are helping out right now and we are trying to figure out the best combination of cannabinoids to help their different illnesses. As you know, my dad and my brother run the cannabis shops, so we’re able to work with a lot of patients very closely and develop products that work for them.
We have so many testimonials of our medication working for them, but we can’t post any of them because of the restrictions set by the FDA. It’s a battle! We want to steer away as much as we can off of the hard, hard THC where it’s just for recreational purposes and focus more on the medicinal application.
It was actually just recently that I came across a couple of MMA fighters that had tried our product and were big fans of it. We realized that our CBD and our high THC products were replacing the Vicodin, Xanax, and various painkillers that they’d been taking after the fights. So, we started sponsoring MMA fighters and that’s been wonderful for us. A lot of athletes become addicted to painkillers and our products are helping them get off of those. We’re doing something great! I haven’t seen a single negative thing come from what we’re doing.
It was actually just recently that I came across a couple of MMA fighters that had tried our product and were big fans of it. We realized that our CBD and our high THC products were replacing the Vicodin, Xanax, and various painkillers that they’d been taking after the fights.
Who is a person that you consider as a role model? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
Tony Robbins was a big one for me growing up. When I was 18 years old, I went to the Fire Walk and it completely transformed my way of thinking. He taught me how you could use the mind to get what you want in this reality that we live in. Aside from him, Steve Jobs was another great mentor for me. I’ve read a lot of his books and followed a lot of the things that he did. Because of him, I pay attention to every detail of the business from how we design our labs, to how we package the product, to how we advertise it in order to make sure that everything is done in the simplest and easiest way possible.
Then, there are also the gurus in India that I constantly go and visit that have helped me snap out of the mind and learn how to start using the mind as a tool. Then, in Brazil, there is the Man-John of God that I constantly go see. There’s a lot of help that I get in what I do. It’s never all on my own, you know? A lot of it comes from outside sources.
What inspires you the most about this space?
Just the fact that we can help people: That’s really what it comes down to, that we’re doing something good. You’re not feeling bad at the end of the day thinking that you screwed someone over, but instead sleeping well, knowing that you’re healing people, helping people, and changing the world. We get calls from people living in all parts of the world asking for help. People are beginning to become aware and it just feels good to be riding the waves.
I didn’t initially understand the medicinal uses of cannabis, I only understood the recreational part of it. It was my brother who persistently urged me to get involved and to look at the benefits and finally, after doing my own research, I came to understand it. He was really the catapulting force that pushed me to get into my current line of work with Kushy Punch.
I didn’t initially understand the medicinal uses of cannabis, I only understood the recreational part of it. It was my brother who persistently urged me to get involved and to look at the benefits and finally, after doing my own research, I came to understand it.
Tell me about an esteemed achievement of yours.
I think it was the fact that I was able to semi-retire my parents when they were only 38 years old. My brother and I started a business when I was 19 years old and by the time we were in our early 20s, we were able to retire our parents. Even though they refused to retire completely, they still work here and there, it felt good to accomplish that. We grew up in a household that was living paycheck to paycheck, like most of the people, and it was hard living in poverty. So, being able to jump from poverty into being in the top 5% percent of earners in the population was really an esteemed achievement of mine.
Where do your great ideas come from?
Gosh? I honestly really don’t know, but I know that my ideas are not mine to generate. They’re just out there floating around, I just have to tune into them. If we need a solution, a marketing idea, or a new idea, I’ll just start up my mind and focus on thinking about it. By morning, it’s usually formulated in my head. I know it’s not me doing it, it’s just coming to me. As long as you’re focused on something, you’re focused on a solution. As long as you’re focused on a solution and not constantly thinking, “Oh, my Gosh! What am I going to do? What am I doing to do?,” then you’ll discover the solution. It’s just about asking the right questions to get the right answers. There is a divine grace that flows in your life, but just know that there is still a lot of work that you need to do to capture it. You need to focus on what you want and be in your mind until it solidifies and turns into matter.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader in this space?
On myself, I’m constantly working on improving. I’m constantly searching for ways to connect with the higher power through yoga and exercise. I’m also an advocate for finding the best ways to do things in order to remain productive during the day – by using tools and apps. However, the number one way I grow as a leader is by surrounding myself with people that are better than me. Most of my staff members have college degrees and/or Master’s. Most of the people I work with are much smarter than I am and that’s one of the keys to growing: Surrounding yourself with the right people.
However, the number one way I grow as a leader is by surrounding myself with people that are better than me.
The work of being an entrepreneur is comparable to movie production back in the day. You have to find the talent; your job is to be able to find people that are better than you and that can do the job that’s necessary at hand. We have to come up with the ideas and think, “Okay, if we do this, this, and this, then we can make this happen, but in order to do that, I need this person.” There’s no way you can do it all on your own. I can’t grow Kushy Punch without a great team so my role is to find the right people. I put the right people in the right room together and give them guidance and a little push, and then just watch the magic happen.
What is important to you – mission, vision, or core values? Why?
Mission, I feel like goes hand in hand with vision. Unless you have the vision, you don’t have the mission. Core values play a part, but you need to have the roadmap of knowing where to go, your business’ direction.
I’ve lived a life where for about five years I did absolutely nothing. I watched the mind just turn around and start attacking itself to a point where I was like, “Oh, my Gosh. I have this issue and that issue.” The number one thing you need to do is establish a direction for your life and your business. If you want to make an impact in the world, then you need to start now! We’re only here for a short while and you want to make the best of your time while you can. If it means that you can make a shift in the way people take their medicine and the way their hope evolves, then you could be a big part of that. I think that’s a worthy mission to have.
The number one thing you need to do is establish a direction for your life and your business. If you want to make an impact in the world, then you need to start now! We’re only here for a short while and you want to make the best of your time while you can.
If we are sitting across from each other a year from now, how will our conversation about the ‘green rush’ be going?
A year from now? So many things change and they are changing fast. We know this because we’ve been in this industry for a long time. I’ve seen my brother and my dad struggle for ten years. What I’d hope to see a year from now is major growth. I want to see Kushy Punch in multiple states, I want to see a lot more states accepting cannabis on a medicinal level, and I hope to see a lot more people being open to it. I’d like for our industry to be placed in a positive light and have what we’re doing be even more respected than it already is.