NEW BRITAIN: New Britain native Antonio Gonzalez planted a seed and from it would grow The Canna Bio Group, a new minority-owned CBD company.
“I was playing basketball in college and I got injured around 2011-2012 and I couldn’t play anymore,” said Gonzalez, CEO and founder of The Canna Bio Group. “I was wondering what my career path would be and I really got lucky and someone pointed me in the right direction to get into the cannabis field.”
Gonzalez entered the cannabis industry around 2013 and attended New England Grassroot, a medical cannabis school in Brookline, Massachusetts, and made some connections.
“I fell in love with it,” Gonzalez said. “What my teachers were doing out there was helping kids with cancer and epilepsy and different types of symptoms and illnesses and creating oils and medicines and giving them out, as well as teaching people to take care of themselves and be self-sustaining.”
But Gonzalez said one thing he noticed was that there was no one who looked like him in any of those courses.
“Now that cannabis is considered good and legal, going to school and not seeing anyone who looked like me, I thought I had to do something about it,” he said.
He knew it was an up and coming industry and decided to get as much knowledge and connections as possible and bring it back to New Britain, Connecticut as a whole and help as many people as possible.
Gonzalez tried to get into the new medical marijuana program and get an entry-level job at one of the facilities, but was unsuccessful.
“I was getting pretty much the same answers from everywhere, that you needed a pharmacy technician certificate and other criteria to even be there, so at that point I was like, ‘OK, I’ve come this far, I’m going to do this “. too,” he said. “So I went to Tunxis Community College and got into their pharmacy technician program, tried to knock it out really quickly and come right back like ‘there you go.’
González paid for the class but due to the lack of student enrollment he was forced to wait until the summer.
“Instead of doing nothing, I ran into one of the business professors there and she was curious about what I was doing. I told her about my game plan and what happened and what was going on, she said : “Honestly, you might make a lot of it, I recommend going to business school and getting a business degree just because if you want to be an entrepreneur and get into this field, you should learn how to get into it the right way.” so you don’t take advantage and have a little more skill and incorporate everything you’ve learned because it’s a business,’” he said.
Gonzalez decided to follow his advice and took his Intro to Business course.
“It started to open my eyes to so many different areas of how to actually do it, how to legitimize my business and ideas and everything that I was trying to do,” he said. “I went back to dispensaries once I finished everything and now they were telling me I was overqualified, they didn’t know where to put me or hire me for certain things and I kept getting turned around. However, I realized what was going on because I was a patient at some of the places and I was going there to get my cannabis too and I looked back and I met some of the people who worked there and none of them were. knew anything about cannabis, it was all nepotism, people putting their own people.”
He received his Pharmacy Technician Certificate from Tunxis in 2015 and his teachers encouraged him to create his own lane.
“They launched their CBD company and I told them I wanted to start a company in New Britain and they pretty much let me use their labs, their chemists, a lot of their resources, and I pretty much created my own products like CBD oils. shaving cream, bath and beauty products, muscle creams and pet products,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez started The Canna Bio Group in 2016, creating the logo and branding. The acronym of The Canna Bio Group’s name is CBG and also stands for Acanabernoid, another molecule in cannabis.
“Just like there’s CBD and THC, there’s also CBG, which is the precursor molecule to all these molecules,” Gonzalez said. “So when you grow your plant, the only chemical in your plant is CBG and from there it becomes everything else.”
The business owns a 56-acre parcel in Middletown.
“We’re working on every new product, from massage, to health and wellness, to honey, every product you can think of for cannabis. We’re creating new things every month,” Gonzalez said. “I’m also gearing up for the black and brown community with topical lotions, shea butters, conditioners, makeup, and coffee.”
After being an online-only entity, Gonzalez signed the lease for 77 West Main St on June 1, 2021, and the storefront is now officially open for business. Gonzalez chose downtown because he’d like to help fight the opioid crisis by giving free pre-rolls and cannabis to people who can’t afford it. He also plans to donate food that will be grown on his land in Middletown.
“The way people stay addicted to opioids and have cravings and can’t really fight them is because opioids stick to the back receptors in the brain and stay there to some degree, and CBD doesn’t,” Gonzalez said. . “So if you smoke CBD or ingest it, you get all the medicinal effects without it sticking to the back of your receptors, which causes addiction. It could actually release and release those receptors from those opioids to help you to get out of addiction”.
The Canna Bio Group is open from Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. They can be reached by phone at 860-310-8600 or at thecannabiogroup.com.
“Our communities don’t have a lot of access to this information,” Gonzalez said. “I want to start holding seminars and breaking all of this down so that everyone can break down the stigma and the ignorance and start really taking care of themselves and see how this really benefits us because we were the first to get it, in the drug war, and we will be the last to reap the benefits and rewards.”