A new type of business is popping up in Macon with the promise that some products being sold at the stores offer significant health benefits.
Several stores selling cannabidiol, or CBD, have opened locally in recent weeks. The offerings include oils, topical cremes, capsules and more.
The products are derived from industrial hemp, which is similar to marijuana but without the psychoactive effects, according to industry experts.
The federal 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from banned substances and Georgia has legalized growing hemp.
Proponents of CBD claim benefits that include controlling seizures, anxiety, pain and sleeplessness, among others.
Dr. Trista Marshall, a Macon physician who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation, said patients looking at a CBD product as an alternative to a prescribed drug should first consult with their doctor. However, she said, she has had patients who reported good results when trying it for pain and anxiety.
“We as physicians are learning about it, too,” she said.
In April, Consumer Reports released results of a survey of 4,000 Americans on the use of CBD. A fourth of those questioned said they have tried it, and 1 in 7 of those said they use it daily. The majority of those who tried it, the survey said, reported that CBD helped them, and those using it for anxiety found it particularly effective.
Brightfield Group, a research firm that studies the market for cannabis products, estimates the CBD industry will be worth over $5 billion nationwide by the end of 2019, which would be about seven times higher than 2018.
‘I’m actually able to sleep at night’
Laurie Passmore says she’s a devout Christian and has never smoked marijuana in her life, so she was hesitant to consider CBD for her pain from serious leg and foot injuries. But traditional pain medications made her sick. She overcame her concerns as she learned the difference between hemp and marijuana.
CBD helped her, she said.
“I’m able to actually sleep at night,” she said.
Now, she and her husband, Terry, own a CBD store on Cotton Avenue called New Hope Herbal.
Terry Passmore said many people still have misconceptions about CBD.
“I knew this was going to come with repercussions with brothers and sisters in Christ who don’t understand, because I didn’t either until I did some research,” he said. “We came into this with a high expectation of helping people and so far it hasn’t let us down.”
They said they haven’t had one customer express disappointment with their products.
Derrell Johnson has opened CBD stores called Natural Life Resources on Pio Nono Avenue and Log Cabin Drive. He is planning to open another on Gray Highway near Walmart, and he also is planning to open one on Russell Parkway in Warner Robins next to Kroger.
Like the Passmores, he said a key motivation for him is to give people an alternative to highly addictive pain medications.
“We are trying to get people to stop taking the hardcore pharmaceutical products and go the CBD route,” he said.
He said the only disappointed customers he has had are those who thought the products would get them high. For those who want to learn more about CBD, he is planning a free seminar at Hilton Garden Inn at Mercer University on Aug. 31 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Another store in Macon is Your CBD Store on Riverside Drive. Additionally, vapor cigarette shops commonly sell the products. Laurie Passmore cautioned that many of the cheaper CBD products are of poor quality and may offer no benefit. At her store, a 500 miligram bottle of oil sells for $69.95.
According to a report by Harvard Health Publishing, all 50 states allow access to CBD with varying restrictions. The report also states there is research to support claims that CBD helps with certain types of seizures in children, as well as helping with anxiety and sleeplessness. However, the report also notes that CBD can conflict with other medications, which is why it is important to consult with a doctor before using it. The report also concludes that more human testing is needed to validate the benefits of CBD.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved CBD products as medication, with the exception of Epidiolex, which is used to treat seizures in two rare and severe forms of epilepsy.
“We recognize that there is significant public interest in these products, for therapeutic purposes and otherwise,” the FDA website states. “At the same time, there are many unanswered questions about the science, safety, and quality of many of these products.”