Main­stream re­tail­ers em­brace mar­i­juana’s less taboo cousin

The Record (Troy, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - ByAnne D’Innocenzio AP Re­tail Writer

NEWYORK » It’s show­ing up in ev­ery­thing from skin creams to bath balms to dog treats — an elixir that can sup­pos­edly re­duce anx­i­ety and help you sleep.

The in­gre­di­ent? CBD, or cannabid­iol, a com­pound de­rived from hemp and mar­i­juana that doesn’t cause a high.

Main­stream re­tail­ers are tak­ing ad­van­tage of a sud­den boom in the in­dus­try even as CBD’s health ben­e­fits re­main murky amid a patch­work of state and lo­cal laws. And the flood of prod­ucts is only test­ing how fed­eral reg­u­la­tors can po­lice it.

Re­tail sales of CBD con­sumer prod­ucts in 2018 were es­ti­mated to reach as much as $2 bil­lion, according to Cowen & Co. By 2025, that fig­ure could hit $16 bil­lion in re­tail sales, the in­vest­ment firm pre­dicts.

Do­mes­tic diva Martha Ste­wart is work­ing with Canada’s Canopy Growth Corp. to de­velop new CBD prod­ucts. And the na­tion’s largest

mall owner Si­mon Prop­erty Group has hooked up with a cannabis goods maker to open roughly 100 kiosks at its U. S. malls by mid-sum­mer.

Au­then­tic Fit­ness is plan­ning to sell CBD foot creams, oils and soaps un­der the Nine West brand start­ing this fall. And CVS Health is be­gin­ning to sell CBD-in­fused creams, sprays, lo­tions and salves at more than 800 stores in seven states; drug store ri­vals Wal­greens and Rite Aid are now fol­low­ing suit.

Even high- end re­tail­ers are get­ting in on the ac­tion, charg­ing any­where from $12 to $150 an ounce. Bar­neys New York has opened a shop in Bev­erly Hills, California, that sells CBD-in­fused creams along with hand blown glass bongs and other ac­ces­sories, while Neiman Mar­cus is now of­fer­ing an ar­ray of CBD-in­fused beauty prod­ucts from balms, lo­tions soaps and masks in five of its stores.

“There’s def­i­nitely a huge op­por­tu­nity for ex­pan­sion,” said Matthew Maz­zucca, cre­ative di­rec­tor at Bar­neys New York.

He ac­knowl­edged, how­ever, the le­gal hur­dles are still hard to nav­i­gate and com­pa­nies should take it slow.

In­deed, some are do­ing just that. Wal­mart says it doesn’t have plans to carry CBD- in­fused prod­ucts at this time and Tar­get, which in 2017 sold hemp ex­tract prod­ucts on its web­site but then quickly yanked them, said it’s mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion.

Mean­while, on­line be­he­moth Ama­zon is stay­ing clear of the stuff. Spokes­woman Ce­cilia Fan says the com­pany pro­hibits the sale of prod­ucts that con­tain CBD and will re­move them from its site if it sees them.

CBD’s ubiq­uity per­sists de­spite very lit­tle ev­i­dence for all the health claims the in­dus­try touts. If you be­lieve in the hype, CBD treats pain, re­duces anx­i­ety and helps you sleep and keeps you fo­cused. But most claims are based on stud­ies in rats, mice or in test tubes. Hu­man re­search has been done but on small num­bers of peo­ple .

Only drugs that have been re­viewed by the U. S. Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion as safe and ef­fec­tive can make claims that they treat or pre­vent diseases or med­i­cal con­di­tions. Many CBD pro­duc­ers try to get around that by us­ing vague lan­guage about gen­eral health and well-be­ing.

That seems to be good enough for at least some shop­pers ea­ger to calm their nerves.

“We are a more anxious so­ci­ety and peo­ple are look­ing for cures,” said Kit Yarrow, a con­sumer psy­chol­o­gist and pro­fes­sor at Golden Gate Univer­sity in San Fran­cisco. “There’s a grow­ing dis­trust in busi­ness and pharma and so peo­ple are want­ing to find cures that seem more real and whole­some.”

Amy Ni­chols, a for­mer food sci­en­tist from In­di­anapo­lis, re­flects that dis­trust. Ni­chols, 46, who’s been bat­tling symp­toms from au­toim­mune ill­ness, has been us­ing CBD oils by a brand called Re­cept that she sticks un­der her tongue.

“For me, this is a more nat­u­ral so­lu­tion to treat­ing symp­toms that I am hav­ing in­stead of tak­ing pain killers,” said Ni­chols, who now works as a sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Re­cept. “I have more en­ergy. I get more done. I am in less pain. I am more ac­tive.”

CBD is op­er­at­ing within a patch­work of reg­u­la­tions that vary by cities and states. In New York City, reg­u­la­tors are pro­hibit­ing out­lets to sell CBDin­fused food and bev­er­ages, threat­en­ing them with fines. Other states like Ohio and California are tak­ing sim­i­lar ac­tion. Maine’s gov­er­nor, on the other hand, signed an emergency bill in late March al­low­ing CBD in food prod­ucts af­ter state in­spec­tors warned stores to pull them from shelves ear­lier in the year.

The farm bill, passed late last year, gave states and the U. S. De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture author­ity to reg­u­late in­dus­trial hemp, a type of cannabis that is high in CBD. That opened the door to hemp- de­rived CBD prod­ucts.

But the farm bill gave the FDA author­ity over the food sup­ply and the agency re­cently warned that it’s il­le­gal to add CBD or THC — the com­pound that gives mar­i­juana its high — to hu­man or an­i­mal food and bev­er­ages and trans­port it over state lines. Di­etary sup­ple­ments us­ing CBD are also il­le­gal.

Big­ger play­ers like CVS and Wal­greens are stick­ing with skin creams and lo­tions where the FDA hasn’t specif­i­cally ex­pressed con­cern. Oth­ers are “rolling the dice” and sell­ing CBDin­fused drinks and sup­ple­ments any­way in hopes of a profit, said Whitt Steineker, a Birm­ing­ham, Alabama, at­tor­ney who ad­vises the hemp in­dus­try.

“They have de­ter­mined the re­ward is worth the risk,” Steineker said.

With rules and guid­ance still be­ing writ­ten, the land­scape is highly un­cer­tain but Steineker ex­pects that to im­prove.

“Now that hemp is le­gal, I think the USDA and state de­part­ments of agri­cul­ture are in­ter­ested in see­ing what type of crop it will be and what its ap­pli­ca­tions are,” he said. “They’ll move with the speed gov­ern­ments of­ten move with ... ( but) by the 2020 grow­ing sea­son, peo­ple will have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing how to op­er­ate within the law.”

JEAN PIERI

In this Aug. 29, 2018, file photo, a cus­tomer tries a free sam­ple of a pain cream that con­tains cannabid­iol (CBD) for her arthri­tis at Min­nesota Hem­p­dropz in Maple­wood, Minn. Main­stream re­tail­ers are leap­ing into the world of prod­ucts like skin creams and oils that tout such ben­e­fits as re­duc­ing anx­i­ety and help­ing you sleep. The key in­gre­di­ent is CBD, or cannabid­iol, a com­pound de­rived from hemp and mar­i­juana that doesn’t cause a high.

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