Each week we highlight entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry for our viewers to learn more about the leading cannabis executives of our time.
This week, we highlight Frank D’Ambrosio, M.D. Frank D’Ambrosio MD is an orthopedic surgeon, husband to Lisa, father of seven and a grandfather. He’s also an avid Ramones fan.
Five years ago, Dr. Frank became fascinated with the science of cannabis and it’s success in relieving medical conditions such as depression and head trauma. He began to explore the possibilities of marijuana as medicine.
He has become a passionate advocate, seeing first hand how patients have got their lives back after turning to medical marijuana, often as a last resort. Dr. Frank is one of our country’s leading voices for medicinal cannabis policy reform and aims to empower and educate people on the benefits of the substance for countless medical ailments through his platform.
In our interview with Dr. Frank, we asked a variety of questions to gain further insight into being a cannabis doctor, advocate, and entrepreneur.
First off, Dr. Frank, congratulations on being DCN’s Entrepreneur of the Week. I would love for our readers to get to know more about you and about DoctorFrank.com, so let’s go into the interview.
What ignited the spark in you to launch Doctorfrank.com?
FD: After 30 years of treating and operating on patients, many of whom would never find relief from their chronic pain, I decided to dedicate my practice to helping patients through medical cannabis. My practice now counsels patients all over the country, daily, on the use of marijuana to manage pain. I launched doctorfrank.com in response to the growing opioid epidemic in the United States. Watching 18,000 people die every minute from prescribed narcotics when we have cannabis; a safe, natural, alternative to so many medicinal products is outrageous. I cannot sit idly by and watch this happen.
How are you helping the industry in a positive way?
FD: I hope that I am helping the cannabis industry in a positive way through education. There has been so much misinformation and disinformation regarding cannabis that needs to be corrected. Through regular columns I write and my weekly television show, Elevate the Conversation on UBN network, I address the current research, legal issues and propaganda surrounding this wonderful plant. Education encourages the patient to make his or her own decisions regarding the efficiency of cannabis as a medicine and not leave it to those who may have alternate motives for suppressing the information.
Who would you say is your role model?
FD: My role model is my father, Nicholas, who passed away a few years ago. He was a wonderful man who inspired me through his work ethic and demeanor. He died as a result of a brain tumor. He lived in New Jersey at the time of his passing. He did not have access to medicinal cannabis.
What would you say are the top 3 skills of a successful entrepreneur?
FD: The top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur are perseverance in the face of obstacles, commitment to selfless insights, and true belief that your product makes a difference.
This question may be a bit out of the norm for you, however just in case, where did your organization’s funding come from?
FD: As a practicing physician, I was very lucky to be self-funded. We started with a single small office in Eagle Rock, CA. We worked seven days a week for a year to cover costs but it was worth it.
What is the best piece of advice you would like to share with those who are looking to launch a business in the cannabis industry?
FD: The best piece of advice that I can give others looking to enter the cannabis industry is; do not focus on the money end. Cannabis is medicine. There is an enormous number of sick people who need access to cannabis but are afraid because of the propaganda. People who cannot afford prescription drugs yet cannot grow their own medicine. Make your mission and your products about patient access and patient care and you’re all off to a good start.
What is the hardest part about running a cannabis business?
FD: The hardest part of founding and running a startup in the cannabis industry is the uncertainty – the doubt and fear in the face of a constantly changing political landscape.
Is there anything that surprised you about launching a business in the cannabis industry?
FD: The biggest surprise that I encountered when founding a startup in the cannabis industry was the amount of disinformation and negative propaganda surrounding a plant. The amount of energy and money that has been spent to demonize and suppress access to something that grows naturally on the planet on which we cohabitate is mind boggling.
Being a founder, we are bound to make a mistake or two, what is one mistake that ended up being one of the biggest learning experiences for you?
FD: As a founder, the biggest mistake I made was believing that I could not make mistakes. Lose the ego, do not double down on erroneous beliefs and as you go down the road, surround yourself with people who are not afraid to say “no, you’re wrong”.
Let’s look at the cannabis business landscape, what is one company you admire?
FD: In the cannabis industry I very much admire weedmaps.com. they took a single idea, giving people access to cannabis, and it blew up.
Do you have a favorite book you would like to share with our readers?
FD: My favorite book of all time is “Jude, the Obscure” by Thomas Hardy. Every life is a magnificent story. Tell it.
If you could talk to one person from history who would it be and why?
FD: If I could talk to one person from history, it would be my paternal grandfather, Frank. He emigrated to the U.S. from Italy in 1918. He came here, not knowing the language all alone and ultimately raised a huge family. He died 4 months before I was born. I would just tell him, “thanks”.
How do you stay balanced in between life and running a company?
FD: Unfortunately, due to my heavy schedule, balance comes only through the occasional vacation or dinner with my family. I know that balance is important but at this point in my business, it is very hard to achieve.
Being able to shoot the breeze with our guests, Captain Ron and Topo every week on my show also helps.
How can we as an industry continue to make a positive difference in society?
FD: We must not forget that cannabis is a medicine and that our job is to provide patients with access to a safe, natural, alternative to prescription medicine – then we will continue to thrive.
And before I finish this interview, I recently learned about your podcast, Elevate the Conversation, what is one thing you love when guests join you on the show?
FD: We love it when guests on the show bring (non-medicated) food to share. That is a huge and often underappreciated positive in the world.
Thank you, Dr. Frank, for joining us, it is an honor having you as this week’s Entrepreneur of the Week on DCN.
To learn more about Dr. Frank, you can go to www.doctorfrank.com
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