Ryan Lafferty had multiple surgeries on each eye before he discovered CBD to treat his issues. Courtesy Ryan Lafferty
Ryan Lafferty is using his own medical challenges to help others.
The founder of Kush Design Studio, a marketing agency that focuses on the cannabis industry, recently entered into another industry.
Lafferty partnered with longtime friend Mike Myers to start Grand Remedy, a business that now manufactures and sells CBD products.
He and Myers opened their business Nov. 6, when Michigan residents voted to legalize marijuana. Now, the CBD products from Grand Remedy are being sold online and in local stores such as Purple East and Sip Organic Juice Bar in Grand Rapids.
Lafferty’s introduction to CBD, which is a natural compound found in hemp plants, came after a longtime struggle with his eyes. The Kansas native said he had always had trouble with his sight, resulting in him wearing eyeglasses at a young age.
However, things turned for the worse about 5 years ago.
Lafferty, who resides in Grand Rapids, was driving to Kansas to celebrate his grandmother’s 90th birthday when he started seeing black specks in his eyes, something that he noticed a few days earlier but ignored. He went to an emergency room in St. Louis, where a doctor informed him that he needed to have surgery immediately.
“The doctor said my retina was detaching,” Lafferty said. “He said I had a couple of options, either have surgery now or I needed to go home.”
Despite the diagnosis, Lafferty was adamant about traveling more than four hours to his grandmother’s birthday party, which he was emceeing. The doctor was equally resolute, Lafferty said.
“The doctor said, ‘You don’t understand, this is going to be like a major deal. You are losing your eyesight; you either have surgery now and you’ll be staying in St. Louis for three weeks or you need to go home,’” Lafferty said.
Still not understanding the urgency of the surgery, Lafferty opted to go home. He stayed the night in St. Louis, and the next day, he and his wife drove back to Grand Rapids. Unbeknown to Lafferty, the doctor in St. Louis knew the retinal surgeon in Grand Rapids and forwarded his medical records to the physician. The next day after arriving in Grand Rapids, Lafferty had the surgery.
“The first one, what they did was use a needle and stick it in my (left) eye and they filled it with fluid and that was supposed to push the retina back into place,” he said. “It is literally a gas bubble in there, and I saw it floating around. I had to keep my head really, really straight and still, otherwise, it wouldn’t hold it in place.”
Two weeks after his surgery, Lafferty went back to the doctor and they found out that his retina was still detaching. So, he had to do another surgery, although this time, it was laser surgery.
“They literally had a laser to try to glue it back on, in a sense, by using the laser, but that didn’t work because it made my retina completely detach, and literally that day, I had the cryo-buckle surgery where they take a band and they hold my eye and put the band around it to hold it together, which was a two-and-a-half-hour surgery,” he said. “They were able to attach it good enough that I can see. I don’t have any peripheral vision, top, side, bottom or depth deception, but I can see.”
Although Lafferty could see and his retina was attached, his vision woes continued in his right eye where he developed cataracts, pressure and glaucoma. He had two surgeries in his right eye, but he still had problems with his vision.
“Nothing was really working to keep the pressure down,” he said. “I was on different eye drop medications, and that wasn’t working.”
Frustration and desperation crept in, and that was when he tried CBD. His longtime church friend, Myers, introduced it to him in church a year ago after he used it on his son’s elbow because he had eczema. After a couple of days, the inflammation disappeared.
“I didn’t tell my doctor,” he said. “I just started taking it, and when I went in for a follow-up, my pressure went from 30 to 15 in one eye and from 30 to 11 in the other eye. He was shocked and concerned and asked what happened. I told him I started taking CBD and he said, ‘That can’t be,’ and he tested it again and it was the same. He didn’t believe it.”
Three months later, Lafferty said he went back to the doctor, and it was still the same. Lafferty and Myers started to explore the idea of possibly starting a CBD business.
When they first started, Lafferty and Myers started purchasing CBD products, including hundreds of tincture bottles, capsules gummies and dog treats, and began white labeling the products for sale.
However, Lafferty said they were not comfortable with the price and quality of the products.
With Lafferty’s background in marketing with Kush Design Studio and Myers’ background in business, they began sourcing, manufacturing, branding and selling their own CBD products, which are 99.9 percent THC free.
Lafferty said the company’s goals are to continue to grow and get more CBD products online and in more retail stores. But he said he also wants to grow the distribution and manufacturing side of the business to help people who want to get in the CBD industry.
“It is incredible the stories that we hear from people,” he said. “It is not a miracle drug, but it is literally helping people live a better life, whatever that means to them. Whether it is sleeping better or pain or anxiety or see better. I feel good about the products that we use and the products that we make.”