WILMINGTON — Weeks after the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, legalizing the sales of cannabinoid (CBD) products on a federal level, a new CBD and hemp lounge will open its doors Saturday, Jan. 19, in the Independence Commons plaza next to Food Lion.
CBD is a derivative of the cannabis plant (including hemp and marijuana varietals) that contains less than .3 percent THC – the psychoactive compound found in cannabis. The non-intoxicating CBD products have seen a popularity surge across the U.S. in recent years, with sales topping $350 million in 2017, amid growing acceptance of their therapeutic benefits among consumers and health researchers.
Tree BD founder Jason Files said the new federal legislation was a clear boost to the state’s hemp and CBD industry. Although consumption has been legal under state law in North Carolina, receiving shipments that cross state lines was, until December, considered illegal trafficking by the DEA. The bill’s December passage cut the risk of CBD shipments being seized by DEA officials – like what happened to a Wilmington CBD producer last summer.
Creams, balms, gummies, tinctures, and infused drinks and food items will be offered at the new Tree BD store and lounge, treating everything from muscle pain to epileptic seizures and cancer symptoms. Beyond the storefront’s retail focus, Files said the lounge aspect of his business will allow people to enjoy the relaxing, calming properties of CBD (some studies have shown cannabinoid positively affecting the brain’s receptors that control stress and energy levels).
Files plans to host morning yoga sessions, in partnership with local studios, where participants can drink tea with CBD-infused honey sticks. He said he is also talking with local craft breweries about hosting tasting sessions of infused beer, and is working on acquiring a permit to sell wine — all in the aims of creating an upscale, relaxed atmosphere different than a typical CBD shop.
“People want to feel comfortable in a place like this,” Files said. “They don’t want to feel like they’re walking into a back alley.”
An alternative to opiates
But CBD’s popular acceptance as a cure-all, Files said, is a misconception – it’s real value is found in the role it can play as a pain-relieving alternative to over-prescribed opiates.
“We’re going to use this as a platform for fighting the opiates crisis,” Files said.
For all of CBD’s naysayers — and there is still much contention within the medical community about its health benefits — Files said to look at the story of his father, who died last year from pancreatic cancer, to better understand what it can do for someone struggling with pain.
After surgery this past year his father developed a severe infection, and upon returning to the hospital, Files said that doctors put him on opiates to reduce the pain.
“You name it, they had him on it,” Files said, noting that his father was given Valium, Vicodin, and OxyContin. “He had a reaction, refused to eat, was unaware of his surroundings. He dropped from 210 to 130 pounds. I went to the facility he was at and told his doctor, ‘No more. Stop giving him these pills.’”
In hospice care, his father stopped taking pain pills and began using CBD tinctures and medical marijuana, as he was living in a state where medical marijuana is legal. After regaining his appetite, he was soon well enough to be sent home.
“During that time my mom had passed from Alzheimer’s disease,” Files said. “Because of the opiates — I blame it all on that — because of the opiates, his life was cut short because he couldn’t get the follow-up chemo he needed. He was too weak from the infection he had, and opiates made it even worse. Although CBD and medical marijuana didn’t cure anything, they alleviated his symptoms and gave me four more months with my dad in relatively no pain. That’s why I’m in this business, why I’m growing it, and why I sit back and hope medical or recreational marijuana is legalized soon here.”
Expanding and positioning for marijuana legalization
Files said that he is preparing to launch a second CBD store in South Carolina by mid-2019. Within ten years he hopes to have stores throughout the Southeast.
“What will play into that is the legalization of marijuana,” Files said. “Does that happen, does that not happen? My guess is that, eventually, it does; although I think the United States might beat North Carolina to the punch.”
If marijuana does become legal in North Carolina, Files said he will be “imprinted enough to be at the forefront” of the industry in the area.
“The vendor relationships are already established should the green light come,” Files said. “We’ll be at the front of the line to get high-quality products in North Carolina.”
Tree BD Products, Inc. is located at 3905 Independence Blvd., Suite C. You can find more information, including details on the opening next Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Tree BD Facebook page.
Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com