Path to recovery after serious injury led father and son to develop CBD company

Jason Malashock and his father, Larry Malashock, started CBD Worx in 2018.  

By Eric Berger, Associate Editor

Jason Malashock has had to reorient himself a number of times over the last decade. Consider the following:

• A 2013 accident on a farm in which a utility vehicle rolled on top of him and severed his arm at the elbow. 

• A subsequent severe addiction to opioids used for pain relief.

• A path out of it via marijuana. 

And even once Malashock, 33, recovered and thought that he had found promising opportunities in the medical marijuana industry, that arena became overly crowded, so he again had to pivot. 

Now Malashock, a member of Congregation Temple Israel, thinks he has found the right path by entering the CBD market.

The cannabis extract helped him and his father, Larry, with health issues and the two now have a business, CBD Worx, which they believe will grow as more people realize the benefits of the plant. 

Despite the earlier obstacles, once they started the CBD business in November 2018, “it’s been pedal to the metal ever since,” Malashock said. 

After the accident at the farm in Eolia, about 90 minutes outside of St. Louis, Malashock had to have 15 surgeries and spend a year in recovery. He said he now has 85 percent use of his arm.

“Honestly, I feel lucky. I got lucky and had a great surgeon in the area at the time I needed surgery and a fantastic support team, whether that’s family, therapists, the entire group of people that helped me get to where I am, I’m really thankful,” he said. 

But during the recovery, he said, he became “wildly addicted” to Oxycontin, the prescription drug that was overly prescribed and significantly contributed to the country’s opioid overdose epidemic.

“I ended up going through a full-blown opioid withdrawal, three weeks on the ground in the fetal position, vomiting, shaking — the only way to stop it was to give me more Oxy, and over the course of three weeks, a lot of will power and a lot of crying, we got through it,” he said.

Marijuana and CBD also helped him in his recovery from the arm injury and addiction. And as medical marijuana advocates worked towards legalizing the drug in Missouri, the father and son pair considered entering the new market.

But they researched what had happened in other states that had legalized medical marijuana and determined that “mom and pop shops couldn’t survive,” Malashock said.

Observing larger companies that would be able to produce more and sell cannabis products at a lower cost, “we got nervous that we weren’t going to be able to compete the way we wanted to — not to mention that there was an absurd up-front cost.”

The state’s medical marijuana program has received scrutiny in recent months over allegations that there were conflicts of interest in the process to determine which of the hundreds of applicants would receive medical marijuana licenses. 

But according to Malashock, there is more space in the CBD market. He and his father and two other partners first sold their CBD products to doctors and pharmacies. They have since expanded to stores and online sales and offer CBD tincture, gummy bears, cream and dog treats, among other items. In March, they were preparing to launch at 60 Schnucks grocery stores.

Malashock said one of the aspects that makes CBD Worx different from competitors is the flavor of their products. Varieties include cinnamon, citrus and peppermint.

Others leave their tinctures or other items with the natural flavor of the plant, which “tastes like dirt, without sounding rude. Imagine if you were to go outside and eat leaves off a tree, that’s what it tastes like,” he said.

Instead, the company offers products with fewer milligrams of CBD, which allows their products to taste better, he said. And even if a company offers a product with 3,000 milligrams of CBD, “your body can only absorb so much of it and you end up excreting the rest,” he said. 

The owners have heard from customers who say the oil has reduced shaking due to Parkinson’s disease or helped them make long-distance drives without pain, Malashock said. 

A previous owner of a Verizon Wireless store and a coding business, Malashock said CBD Worx is “hands-down, by far the most rewarding work I have ever done, mostly because of all the positive feedback and help our product is providing to our customers.”