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Two CBD store owners focus on consumer education

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    KEARNEY, Neb. (Kearney Hub) — It’s almost impossible to avoid seeing “CBD” banners blowing in the wind or “CBD” and “hemp” signs in store windows while driving through Kearney or many other towns these days.

As harvest begins in this first year of legal, licensed hemp production and processing in Nebraska, an industry in its infancy is expected to grow rapidly.

Brad Scellin owns CBD American Shaman franchises in Grand Island and Kearney, 42nd Street west of Second Avenue.

William Hall has Herbal Wonder CBD stores on East Highway 30 and the Old Town district on Central Avenue, which just reopened after being closed since March due to COVID-19.

The Kearney businesses opened more than a year ago.

They sell CBD and other cannabinoids (CBG and CBN) as water solubles, tinctures, edibles such as gummies and popcorn, and soaps, lotions and bath bombs. They also have products for animals.

Although their brands and specific products are different, the men have a similar message for consumers.

“Get educated,” Scellin said.

Hall tells his customers to ask for third-party testing results. “It’s not 100 percent,” he said, “but at least it gives us a Geiger counter, something to go off of.”

Both stores have products with QR codes on labels that can be scanned for such reports. Scellin said Kansas City-based American Shaman also has a lot of in-house testing to share.

Lots to know

He explained that CBD works on the body’s cannabinoids system, a complex cell-signaling system active in the body even if a person doesn’t use cannabis.

“There are different ways of taking it (CBD or other cannabinoid) for the way it works for you,” Scellin said.

Flavored solubles added to water, tea or other drinks are his best-sellers. He said that if a person takes 5 milligrams through a soluble, the body gets 5 milligrams, but it could take 40-50 mg of a tincture for the same dose.

Scellin recommends that new users start at about 5 mg twice a day. “It’s a lot easier going up than going down … The idea is to use the least amount needed,” he said.

The American Shaman and Herbal Wonder stores’ lists of potential therapeutic uses of CBD include inflammation, pain relief, anti-depressant, improved sleep, reduced anxiety, nausea relief, seizure, migraines, obesity, PTSD, asthma, diabetes and cancer.

Individual features

Hall’s east Kearney Herbal Wonder store has a selection of smokables because of customer requests. “I try to pick the lowest THC-bearing strains,” he said.

THC is the most common psychoactive component of cannabis. It is found in elevated levels in marijuana but far lower percentages in CBD and similar cannabinoids.

Hall’s smokables don’t have QR codes, but he sends customers home with a paper listing sample identification numbers matched to the products. He hopes some smokers switch from nicotine, which is addictive, to CBD as a first step toward quitting altogether.

His store’s products from a Colorado Springs, Colorado, supplier mostly are broad-spectrum with no or extremely low THC levels, Hall said.

Scellin said CBD American Shaman has a nanotechnology system that breaks down the particle size, allowing the body to absorb 100% of the CBD. He added that the company has three chemists on staff.

Also, he said, American Shaman is one of only 60 businesses approved by the U.S. Hemp Authority, which is a guarantee that products come from a pharmaceutical-grade lab and ingredients listed on a label are the ingredients in the bottle or package.

Scellin said that without certification, there is no guarantee about what’s in a product or even if CBD is in it.

Waiting on FDA

“We’ve relabeled our products several times in the last six months,” he said, to ensure the wording meets U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements for products not agency approved.

“We can’t wait for FDA approval,” Scellin said. “It gets the bogus CBD out of vape shops, convenience stores and places like that.”

Scellin and Hall take care in how they represent product uses and the benefits to customers.

“We can’t say it helps with something …” Scellin said. “I can tell you how it helps me or someone else I know who has used it for two years.”

As he stood between a product display case and rack of tie-dyed T-shirts in his store, Hall said, “Everything is potential. I don’t make claims.”

Hall and Scellin emphasized that anyone with health issues and/or taking medicines must talk to their doctor or pharmacist before using cannabinoid products.

“We have to use some common sense,” Hall said.

The reason for caution is that little is known about cannabinoids’ current and potential benefits. “No wonder the FDA doesn’t want us to make any claims,” Hall said. “Everyone’s body chemistry is different.”

He said that when customers return to the store to tell him how CBD products helped them, “I can’t tell anybody if it’s a placebo effect or a real effect.”

Scellin said hemp was legalized by the 2018 Farm Bill, which has allowed more research on other cannabinoids.

“We’re just on the cusp of that,” he said.

A continuing challenge for store owners is getting the public to understand the differences between hemp and marijuana.

Also, Scellin said, CBD American Shaman is a big company, “but we can’t fight Big Pharma and Big Pharma doesn’t want CBD to go through.”

Hall’s issue is closer to home.

Since July, he hasn’t been able to use the credit card processor in his store.

“It’s because the bank says I’m selling cannabis …,” Hall said. “I’m being punished when I’m selling products that are legal in this state and country. Customers are also being punished.”

He still loves what he does and looks forward to working with area farmers who are state-licensed to legally grow hemp for the first time this year.

“I’ve been a contractor most of my life,” Hall said. “This is my semiretirement, to own a little hemp store.”

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