- Kristin Price and Sarah Baker are both 16 and both suffer from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
- No medication prescribed to Kristin, of North Carolina worked to treat her joint pains and hair loss
- Overwhelmed with medications, she quit them all and tried hemp-derived CBD oil
- This particular cannabis extract is legal in all 50 states for all ages and does not contain psychoactive ingredients
- Now, the high school junior, her 17-year-old sister and best friend have launched Hoop Beauty, a lifestyle brand for ‘spreading good vibes about CBD’
There is a new cannabis startup in town – and it’s run by three teenage girls.
Kristin Price tried everything from chemotherapy to anti-malaria drugs for the pain, skin rashes, hair loss and depression that came with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a rare autoimmune disease that often affects gymnasts and causes inflammation.
But nothing seemed seemed to help the 16-year-old.
Finally, her mother, who works for a PR firm that represents marijuana industry clients, decided to give Kristin a non-psychoactive form of cannabidiol to try.
Kristin was soon relieved of much of her pain, and her hair began to grow back. Her best friend, Sarah Baker, tried the extract to treat her own EDS autoimmune symptoms.
The girls were convinced and a brand was born to raise awareness about the oil and its potential benefits among an unlikely group – their teenage peers.
The idea of cannabis oil has not caught on in the same way that the marijuana plant has among teenagers.
It is still illegal for anyone under 18 to used marijuana, and yet more and more teenagers report using it – whether rolled into a joint, baked into an edible or puffed vaped through an e-cigarette – each year.
Now, about one quarter of of adolescents between eight and twelfth grade say they have used marijuana in the last year.
But Kristin says she is not among those teenagers.
The 16-year-old is adamant that she never has or would do anything illegal, like using psychoactive marijuana in North Carolina, where it is illegal for either medical or recreational use.
Instead, she takes hemp-derived cannabis oil in gel capsule form, which is legal in every state.
‘I have had multiple illnesses my whole life, from eczema to allergies, asthma and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome,’ Kristin says.
She also has alopecia areata, which causes hair loss, and has had bouts of frequent, high fevers that made her miss many days of school.
‘No one could pinpoint what was going on with me,’ Kristin says.
But they could give the teenager drugs, and they did: prescription painkillers, anti-malaria drugs, antibiotics, and even chemotherapy, to name a few.
Finally, last December, she had had enough and announced to her parents that she was done with ‘all this medicine that was doing more harm than good,’ including potentially causing permanent liver and kidney damage.
Reluctantly, Kristin’s parents agreed, but her mother, Jen, spoke to a friend and one of her clients about what nationally legal CBD product might be safe for her young daughter to try.
Even Kristin was skeptical at first, but her alopecia had recently gotten so bad that she had traveled with Jen to New York to get a wig made. Jen told Kristin the drug might help her hair grow back, and that seemed worth a shot to the high school Junior.
Two months later, when Kristin went to a salon to have the wig styled before prom, the stylist told her to go home, she didn’t need a wig.
Kristin’s hair appeared to be growing back, a fact that had somehow eluded both she and her mother until that day.
‘We were wondering “what is going on?” But I decided that the only thing that I changed was that I started taking CBD consistently two months before,’ Kristin says.
There is little research showing that CBD – hemp-derived or otherwise – can reverse hair loss, but Kristin’s hair was there in the mirror, and her joints were hurting less.
‘I wanted to share my story of overcoming,’ Kristin says, ‘but not a lot of people know what CBD is and there is a bad stigma.’
‘One of my teacher’s said to me “if you think CBD works, you’re not smart, it’s a placebo effect.” This was my biology teacher, and he told me what I believed in didn’t work, and it was heartbreaking hearing him tell the whole class of 15- and 16-year-olds that this isn’t a good thing, it’s a bad thing.’
“It’s just spreading even more negative energy around a small school. I had to work hard to re-educate people to know that CBD isn’t such a bad thing.”
Along with her 17-year-old sister Kasey, best friend Sarah – who lives in Kansas and also, coincidentally, suffers from the rare autoimmune disorder, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome – Kristin decided to make literal ‘work’ of re-educating people.
The three girls, with some guidance from Jen – started Hoop Beauty, ‘A lifestyle brand for teens, by teens’ with the goal of ‘spreading positive vibes about CBD and living your best life.’
Hoop means Hope in Dutch.
‘My middle name is Hope and I wanted to give people hope that you can rely on things besides the pharmaceutical industry and make your own hope,’ Kristin says.
But since Hope is a common word, and name, she plugged the word into a Google search for its translation in other languages. She and Jen both liked the Dutch one best, ‘and it just kind of stuck,’ Kristin says.
Currently, their product consists of a Facebook page and Instagram account, but a blog where Kristin, Sarah and Kasey promise to share honest, unedited photos, personal stories and tips on the kinds of coping mechanisms that help them get through their rough patches (like cooking, for Kristin) is forthcoming.
Kristin has larger ambitions for the project too, which she plans to execute while finishing high school and beyond.
She, too, noticed that there isn’t much research about hemp or CBD and alopecia and says Temple University has agreed to work with her to study whether the drug could help others with her form of hair loss.
Someday, Hoop Beauty hopes to have a line of hemp-derived skin care, lip balm, cleansers and other beauty projects.
For the most part right now, her goal is to inspire other teenagers to advocate for themselves, as she did, and to educate them about CBD and alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs.
‘Not a lot of people have the bravery to do that, especially at such a young age. it took a lot out of me to tell my parents that I wanted to try a more natural treatment, and now I want to give other people hope and the sense that they can do that,’ Kristin says.
‘I’ve already been questioned by my friends and their parents and anyone that sees me, saying that what I’m doing is wrong and I’m playing the role of a drug [advocate].’
In response, Kristin chants what could be a second motto for her budding company: ‘I take a deep breath, and explain that there’s a huge differences and one is not psychoactive and one is for inflammation and doesn’t get you high.’