The ABCs of CBD

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MANCHESTER — As Vermont nears the July 1 legalization of recreational cannabis, perceptions regarding the plant — and the multitudes of compounds contained within it — have begun to shift.

One of those compounds, known as cannabidiol, or CBD, has already become popular in Vermont and across the country for its acclaimed medicinal properties and lack of psychoactive effects. Because CBD does not cause users to feel "high," products containing the compound have been available to consumers before the Vermont Legislature voted to legalize recreational cannabis in January.

In the Northshire the CBD charge has been led by Jill Bradley, owner of Manchester's Greener Pastures Smoke Shop and A Kind Place in Bennington. Now, Bradley plans to expand her offering of CBD products with a new business — the Vermont Hemp Farmacy — which will be located alongside Greener Pastures on Manchester's Depot Street.

"CBD is growing in popularity, and I've been watching CBD stores open up throughout the country and in our state," Bradley explained. "It's really caught on like wildfire. I think in Vermont, almost everyone must know somebody who is using a CBD product."

But what, exactly, is CBD?

While CBD is produced primarily by the cannabis and hemp plants, cannabidiol can be isolated from other compounds in those plants — including tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which produces the mind-altering effects experienced by cannabis users.

While many states allow the legal sale of CBD products the compound is still considered illegal federally, as laws prohibiting cannabis — including the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 — do not specifically exempt non-psychoactive derivatives. Due to hemp's legality under the Federal Agricultural Farm Act of 2014, confusion surrounding CBD's federal legality lingers.

In recent years, however, CBD has been utilized for a variety of ailments including anxiety, pain and inflammation, seizures, and other symptoms. Some clinical and scientific studies have even indicated CBD's usefulness in managing conditions like arthritis, addiction, depression, and epilepsy among others, though research is limited and ongoing.

Following the dramatic rise in popularity that CBD has experienced in recent years, Bradley's business instincts urged her to latch on and expand her offerings in the Northshire.

"Attitudes and perceptions were beginning to change, and Greener Pastures has really become my baby," Bradley said. "It didn't take me long to realize that somebody else would eventually come to town. I could either become a CBD presence because I already carry it, and build those lines up, or leave that door open to somebody else."

Though the business owner has dedicated herself to learning about CBD products, uses, and current research, she admits that she wasn't as versed in the science behind CBD until requests began to trickle into her shop, eventually culminating into a flood.

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"When the buzz took off I began to do some research, and became really interested and immersed in the industry," Bradley explained. "For me it's not just a financial thing; it's amazing to see it growing. Watching people say that CBD has allowed them to go off of their medications, some with really scary side effects, has been really gratifying."

Bradley offers a 10 percent discount to medical card holders, and guarantees dedicated and informed service alongside her selection. With CBD products popping up in grocery stores, gas stations, and other establishments, the business owner says that she hopes to provide guidance and information that will set the Vermont Hemp Farmacy apart.

"The other day I had an older woman come into the store, and we spent a long time talking," Bradley said. "She asked if CBD would interfere with other medications she was taking, and we both sat down to do some research Alas, it would have interfered with her medication! It's really important to me that I'm able to provide that service."

Educating consumers is only one part of the process, however, according to Bradley. Carrying high quality products with research and transparency behind them, she says, is of equal importance at the Vermont Hemp Farmacy.

"What I'm trying to do is carry as much as I can from companies that have a good reputation, provide third party testing, and are available to answer any question that I may have," Bradley said. "The companies that I work with are serious. They will spend the time and talk with you, they will send you the information you want, and that's what I want to make sure I'm carrying."

Those companies provide a vast array of products according to Bradley, as CBD can be administered in a number of formats including tinctures, topical products, and even edibles.

"Some products even get more artisanal by incorporating CBD into beard oil, bath salts, or soap," Bradley added. "A year ago people may not have been as familiar with CBD, but it has really caught on."

As Vermont's legalization of cannabis does not allow for a retail market, Bradley has no intention of expanding the Vermont Hemp Farmacy beyond CBD. Though she doesn't anticipate a rush to her door on July 1, Bradley does foresee more members of the community becoming more comfortable with — and open about — the use of not only non-psychoactive products like CBD, but the plant that produces them.

"There are fewer misconceptions than there ever were, but it is frustrating that there is this whole group out there that is narrow minded enough to say that it's bad all around," Bradley admitted, noting that she strongly supports age limitations and other regulations on recreational cannabis. "You can have a problem with anything you do in your life; with alcohol, food, or caffeine but all of those things can be done safely as well. It's about the individual, and what's going on inside of you."

Still, the business owner remains optimistic for the future of CBD, hemp, and cannabis.

"The cat's out of the bag," she said, "and it's going to be hard to get it back in."


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