(First off it’s important to note that the following interview is for educational/informational purposes only, sharing what research has shown and the experiences of many, and that no medical claims are being made or implied by the author. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.)
I’ve had a passion for natural health and wellness for some thirty years including such things as practicing massage therapy in a clinical setting for over 15, decades of experience in martial arts/qigong, and as a teacher. I became intrigued about nutrition, supplements and herbs at a young age. There was constantly a new fad in diet or supplements which claimed to be good for practically everything but always seemed to fall short.
Then Cannabidiol (CBD) entered the picture. It was a game changer. At first I was skeptical. I vetted it for some time before I felt comfortable getting involved, but as I continued to research it, have myself and my family/friends try it, and then work more with the public an obvious trend emerged. It was helping people. People with pain, inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy, PTSD, Parkinson’s, and numerous others. Per their reports and my own experience It was working. I had suffered with chronic pain myself for a number of years and was resistant to the idea of taking conventional medicine (i.e. NSAID’s, etc) due to the side effects and the potential toll it could take on my body. CBD has been a game changer in my life and many others, and it’s not just people but pets too. I’ve seen dog’s who were ready to be put down by their owners get a new “leash” on life, reports of cessation of seizure activity for months on end, tumors shrinking. (It’s important to note animals are not subject to the placebo effect.)
So there came a point and time where we felt a responsibility to let more people know about CBD and the possibilities. At that time CBD was not well known and unless you frequented vape shops or stumbled into it at an independent vitamin store (in both cases the clerks typically had little to no real knowledge about what they were selling) you weren’t likely to run into it. So after having an online store for a while we decided to open a business in the public square so people could have someone to speak to face to face to educate, answer questions and provide genuine quality products (another issue: there was and is a fair amount of false products containing little to no CBD and even worse – synthetic or tainted products that can have negative side effects).
What steps did you have to take?
In addition to the above we vetted a number of sources to find the best products we could provide to the public.
How many legal hurdles are/were there to get involved ethically?
It took some explaining. We needed to get a permit from the Florida Department of Agriculture and initially were redirected to the state’s medical marijuana division. I spoke to a number of people at the dept. of agriculture and explained with the help of the U.S 2014 Farm Bill that hemp was not marijuana and had been declared legal in all 50 states (since then the 2016 and 2018 Farm Bills have solidified that position). There were good natured and helpful people in the department that helped me navigate the process to receiving our permit. We also had to get licenses at city and county levels to do business. Even after all that there was the occasional news flash from US Attorney General, the FDA, etc that put people in a panic and made us feel like we could potentially be arrested. We were taking a chance to help people, but it was very rewarding to see those who were being helped…some who had no other recourse so they told us and implored us to continue. Either conventional meds had not worked in their case or the side effects/addition was worse than their original problem.
What are some of the misunderstandings of this field and market?
There are several that come up, too many to cover in detail here. One is not understanding the difference between hemp and marijuana. People think it’s going to make them high or maybe be addictive. While the two plants are similar they are genetically opposite when it comes to their main ingredients or phytocannabinoids…a kind of yin/yang if you will. In marijuana THC (the component that is psychoactive) is going to be the primary one and CBD the secondary. In Hemp it’s the exact opposite with CBD being the primary cannabinoid and only trace amounts of THC which is not active on it’s own in such a small amount but supports the benefit of the CBD along with other trace cannabinoids in Full Spectrum oils (something called the “Entourage” effect.) The entourage effect is a term coined to represent the interactive synergy between cannabis compounds and other components contained in a whole plant extract. The concept is that this is more beneficial than a CBD only (CBD isolate). Also synthetic products appear inferior. The prefix “phyto” in phytocannabinoids refers to being plant-based.
CBD extracted from hemp is legal. You can also extract CBD from marijuana but then it is considered a controlled substance.
Another is that all CBD products are created equal. One point is the entourage effect noted above which you get from a full spectrum extract that has CBD as well other trace cannabinoids, bioflavinoids, terpenes, etc. All the researchers and experts I’ve encountered agree that a natural full spectrum product has a better chance of working and less of a chance drug interactions. Some of the other products out there may be a chemically isolated CBD (sometimes they’ll then add other components back in fortifying it) or a broad spectrum product (i.e. a full spectrum extract that then filter out any trace amounts of THC). So, it appears nature got it right the first time…the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.
Another common misconception is that if the marketing is bigger and better than the product must be better as well. “Not everything that glitters is gold.” Natural, full spectrum, non-GMO, grown as organic, tested, solvent free extracts from premium herbs are the gold standard – which are the only products we feature at our store.
Customers will often ask which product is best for sleep, pain, or anxiety, etc. The fact is it’s mostly a matter of delivery preference. CBD essentially has the same effect as long as it’s taken internally. Some individuals may have a better response to one method of delivery (e.g. a sublingual tincture vs an edible) or another depending on there physiology. That’s a matter of trial and error and so is the optimal dosage amount which can range widely on a number of factors. It can even vary from one day to another as biorhythms and external factors change. Many experience benefits rapidly but some after cumulative use say after 3 weeks. I’ve experienced both myself with continued cumulative benefits as well as immediate ones.
How do you overcome these misunderstandings?
Through education, letting people try our products to see the quality, and showing them lab testing.
How safe is the product?
That’s one of the reasons there’s such a huge interest in CBD. Not only does it have such a wide variety of potential benefits but it has a very low profile of side effects and interactions. Also there’s no possibility of overdosing on it. Side effects are very rare and and seem to either be stomach upset or a “quasi-high” feeling in very sensitive people. As far as drug interactions it’s similar to grapefruit (this appears to be more of an issue with isolated or synthetic CBD). It can cause certain drugs to metabolize slower and stay in the blood stream longer.
The issue is that some drugs’ effectiveness actually comes from the secondary metabolite. In some cases it possibly can potentiate a drug’s effect (this appears to happen with opiates pain relieving capacity for example). The physician’s I’ve heard from say they’ve monitored patient’s blood levels in sensitive cases (say a child on a cocktail of drugs for severe epilepsy) but haven’t found an adverse effect. I’ve also heard some doctor’s say you can take the CBD 2 or 3 hrs after a medicine an avoid an interaction.
There seems to be an overwhelming amount of competition in the marketplace. What sets your business model apart from others?
There’s been an incredible increase of newcomers in the industry. Everything from big money investors, pyramid schemes, to people setting up tables for a day at the swap shop. There’s a “green rush” mentality about it with folks from all backgrounds becoming supposed “instant CBD experts”. They think it’s an easy buck.
The superior level of knowledge we have about CBD and our level of compassion is one thing that sets us apart. We provide free education as well as sales. Also we’ve been in the industry longer (2015). This experience and time in the game builds confidence with our customers as well as word of mouth. As I mentioned before we’re committed to providing only the highest quality products at a fair price to the community.
Natural, full spectrum, non-GMO, grown as organic, tested, solvent free extracts from premium herbs are the gold standard-which are the only products we feature at our store.
How big of a market do you anticipate this to get?
It’s growing exponentially. It’s going to be huge. It’s projected to be a 16 billion dollar industry by 2025 according to a recent analysis by Cowen & Co. It’s ironic that all those years ago before cannabis was made illegal hemp was projected in 1937 by Popular Mechanics to be a billion dollar industry (that was even before anybody new about cannabidiol). Hemp is a very versatile plant which can yield excellent paper (but grows in a fraction of the time of trees), bio-plastic (which biodegrades), non-toxic building materials, bio-fuel to name others. It’s rumored that many large industries who felt there bottom line was being threatened were behind the scenes of the cannabis prohibition movement (hemp was conveniently thrown in with marijuana even though it was not the same as it’s psychoactive cousin).
Can you explain the human cannabinoid system? It seems that very few people understand it?
All vertebrates (animals with a spine) have an endocannabinoid system. “Endo” is short for endogenous and basically means coming from within. Whereas CBD and other cannabinoids from plants (phytocannabinoids) would be exogenous or coming from without. So we make our own endocannabinoids similar to THC (Anandamide) and CBD (AG1) as part of our body’s regulatory systems. The endocannabinoid system is essentially involved with creating homeostasis or balance in our systems. It plays a role in a number of processes such as sleep, relaxation, mood, memory, pain regulation, immune function. It also appears to be responsible for things like the “runners high” and the soothing effect in nursing infants.
It’s found in our brain-nervous system, immune system, digestive system as well as other areas. Mounting research is strongly suggesting anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, analgesic,anti-tumor, neuroprotective effects to name a few. It’s speculated that there may be an endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome responsible for many nagging disorders. This may explain why supplementing that system with CBD (and THC in MMJ cases) is having such a wide range of reported positive benefits in people from Crohn’s to Cancer, Autism to Alzheimer’s. There is mounting research supporting many potential benefits. It’s not a panacea, but it is quite remarkable.
How do you differentiate your customers from those who are seeking real health solutions and those who are seeking pure recreational pleasure?
It hasn’t really been an issue. The folks seeking recreational pleasure are outliers in my experience. If that’s one’s objective there’s just better options than CBD. However there are many in recovery who’ve found CBD to be a comfort easing the anxiety and distress of withdrawal without creating an impulse for relapse (an Exit drug if you will). I’ve had customers tell me that it helped them quit taking opiates for pain and even reports of helping to quit smoking.
About the Authors
Tom and his wife Kika Burgess own and operate Enlightened Botanicals, a family based CBD business in the Festival Marketplace in Pompano Beach, FL, one of the first CBD dedicated businesses in South Florida.
Tom has been working to benefit the health and wellness of the community for the last 24 years as a licenced health care practitioner and trainer. He currently still teaches a Russian martial art called Systema in his spare time which emphasizes a relaxed, healthy state of mind, body and breath to deal with conflict along with many holistic health practices at CCMA in the Coconut Creek Community Center (Not a city sponsored activity).
They’re passionate about helping people and welcome your questions.
Their business website is found here.