Elevating Louisiana’s CBD Game

Tulane friends launch New Orleans-based CBD company, Crescent Canna


Crescent Canna partners Sean Partridge (left), Joe Gerrity (center), and David Reich (right) launched their CBD business with an emphasis on quality control, transparency, and affordability.

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Everyone’s talking about CBD, or cannabidiol. A group of Tulane alumni have taken it beyond just talk by launching a company that’s bringing organic, carefully tested CBD to the New Orleans area and beyond.

A growing body of research into CBD shows many potential health benefits. People are finding CBD products helpful with painful ailments such as arthritis, as well as mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. In 2018, the FDA approved the first prescription medication in the U.S. with CBD as its active ingredient for “two rare and severe forms of epilepsy.” 

With such a huge range of potential benefits, it’s no surprise that the CBD market in the U.S. could surpass $20 billion by 2024, according to a recent report from BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research. This outstrips a forecast of $16 billion made just months earlier by investment bank Cowen & Co.

CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t have a mind-altering effect on users. It isn’t habit-forming, has no proven adverse side effects, and unlike THC, it’s completely legal in the U.S. when derived from hemp.

Filling the CBD Gap

Until recently, however, Louisiana was lagging behind other states in the CBD boom. The state was slow with its rollout of regulations, and sent mixed messages to consumers and small businesses. CBD products remained limited and expensive, and often lacked the transparency and quality control consumers in other markets were demanding.

Seeing a tremendous opportunity, three friends and Tulane University alumni — Sean Partridge (Class of 2013), David Reich (Class of 2007), and Joe Gerrity (2004-2006) — founded Simply CBD: Hemp Wellness Dispensary, with a goal of curating the best CBD products from across the U.S. 

The three Tulane friends had first connected in a business venture in April 2014, launching Crescent City Vape on Magazine Street with a mission to help adult smokers ditch cigarettes with smoke-free alternatives. Since then, Crescent City Vape has grown to four locations across the city, and has helped more than 10,000 customers reduce or quit smoking with vapor products. 

They used this platform to introduce customers to the benefits of high-quality CBD products. “It turned out some of our customers were already benefiting from CBD and were excited to see it on our shelves,” Partridge explained. 

CBD sales grew rapidly from there, and the stage was set for Simply CBD, which launched as a pop-up within the Magazine Street vape shop in August 2018. Three more Simply CBD dispensaries across the city soon followed. 

New Orleans-Based Team

New Orleans has been the perfect launch pad for the team. Tulane brought them together and from there, they’ve developed diverse skillsets and experiences.

Gerrity developed a passion for real estate flipping houses after Hurricane Katrina, and leveraged that experience to build a real estate agency of his own, New Orleans-based Satsuma Realtors (formerly Korman Gerrity Real Estate). This expertise has helped the team identify and capitalize on expansion opportunities throughout the state.

Partridge, an expert on retail, wholesale, and distribution sales strategy, graduated in entrepreneurial management and finance. His immersion into the retail side of the vape and CBD industries started with his first college job at the Mushroom, at the time, the city’s leading seller in these product categories. 

Reich, who graduated in marketing, started his career in PR and eventually opened a digital marketing company, SixEstate Communications, that works with clients ranging from small businesses, to public companies. His content-driven approach to marketing showcases expertise and thought leadership, which has been particularly effective in the vape and CBD industries, where customers are increasingly seeking reliable and accurate information from companies before they buy.

The three have managed to remain close friends through the ups and downs of their businesses. Through their time at Tulane and their local ventures since, they’ve been able to cultivate a network of relationships in Louisiana and beyond that have been invaluable, including partners, customers, investors, mentors, and unbelievably supportive friends and family.

Crescent Canna

As Simply CBD continued to grow, the partners knew they could do even better in terms of quality, transparency and affordability if they could tap industry connections to disrupt the supply chain. They started to plan their next venture, Crescent Canna, a CBD manufacturing company they believed could take the market by storm by producing the highest quality products, transparently and at the lowest possible cost. They began to expand their team, starting with Tulane friends Nick Derbes (class of 2009) and Jason Eskind (class of 2010).

Derbes previously worked as senior accountant at Ernst & Young, and as senior lead analyst at Entergy, bringing an indispensable knowledge of accounting and financial models.

Eskind, executive vice president of Nashville-based liquor distributor Best Brands Inc., came on board, adding enormous value to the company on the distribution side. 

They also brought on Robert Lind, former head of manufacturing for one of the biggest CBD companies in the country. Rob runs the Crescent Canna manufacturing laboratory in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a team of six full-time lab and warehouse employees.

Their final partner, Scott Campbell, joined the team with deep connections and expertise within the California cannabis industry, helping Crescent Canna secure raw materials at prices far below going rates. This allowed the company to hit the market with extremely competitive retail, wholesale, and distribution pricing.

Surpassing Expectations

Crescent Canna officially launched in April 2019, offering an extensive line of high-quality CBD products including tinctures, vape cartridges, and topicals, as well as pure CBD,  isolate powder and organic hemp flower. 

The company prides itself on quality, transparency, and affordability. 

“We are fully transparent about every single ingredient that goes into our products,” said Gerrity, who serves as Crescent Canna’s CEO. “Our CBD is pure, organic, and independently lab-tested for quality and potency. We take great pride in the fact that our customers know exactly what they’re getting in every single bottle of Crescent Canna.”

While the initial launch strategy was distribution in the New Orleans area, after just six months, Crescent Canna is being sold at more than 100 stores throughout Louisiana (with 200 expected by early 2020), and expansion into Texas, Mississippi, Florida, and Tennessee has begun.

Despite expansion plans, Crescent Canna is thriving largely due to its local roots. The company counts Saints legend Bobby Hebert, the Cajun Cannon, among its fans. The former Saints quarterback and WWL Radio host has said on air that “Crescent Canna’s CBD Recovery Cream has changed my life.” Hebert’s testimonial reflects a growing interest in CBD products in the sports world and beyond, increasing Crescent Canna’s credibility and market share in a crowded industry. 

The future of the Louisiana CBD market, led by Crescent Canna and Simply CBD, seems bright. Reich said:

“We actively follow the latest research, science, and market trends so we can make appropriate investments in the direction this industry is heading. We have plans to continue growing our CBD footprint around the state, and Simply CBD and Crescent Canna have a perfect synergy to make that vision happen.” 

In July 2019, Simply CBD opened its fifth, and flagship, location in Mid-City. It’s the neighborhood’s first dedicated CBD store, and the fastest-growing Simply CBD dispensary so far. Not surprisingly, Crescent Canna is the shop’s best-selling brand.

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