BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
While Montclair residents wait for the possible legalization of marijuana, an issue now on hold in New Jersey, one of marijuana’s prominent components, cannabidiol or CBD, can be found almost everywhere in town these days — in your latte, in baked goods and even at the local boutique. And residents seem to be lining up for it.
At Java Love on Church Street, the baristas concoct the Green Man, a café au lait with honey and CBD oil. Bangz Salon on South Fullerton Avenue offers CBD oil massages and facials. And CBD products at Eclectic Chic Boutique on Bloomfield Avenue are quickly moving off the shelf. Java Love was out of its CBD last week.
CBD is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis flower, and is a cousin of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that causes the high that people experience when they use marijuana. CBD and THC are both viewed as having therapeutic attributes, although much more research on CBD needs to be done. Unlike THC, CBD does not make a person feel intoxicated; the two chemicals act in different ways on different receptors in the brain and body.
While recreational marijuana is not yet legal in New Jersey, CBD, in its various forms, falls into a different category. That is in part because of federal legislation that allows for hemp, a cannabis plant from which CBD can be derived, to be grown and cultivated, although the hemp must contain less than .3 percent of THC.
That is the doorway through which CBD is now emerging in many products locally and around the country, although at times CBD use can still fall into a legal gray area.
Meanwhile, the therapeutic properties of CBD continue to be tested by numerous scientists and doctors. Currently, Epidiolex is the only CBD-based pharmaceutical drug on the market. It is designed for use in children diagnosed with a rare type of epilepsy.
A non-addictive substance, CBD is one of more than a hundred “phytocannabinoids” that are unique to cannabis and endow the plant with its therapeutic profile, said Holli Ehrlich, who with her husband, Robert Allen, owns Canna Pop-Up, a Livingston company that hosts social events geared around education, food and art connected to CBD.
“We bring people together to learn about cannabis for health, wellness, self-care and care-giving,” said Ehrlich. “The cannabis industry has made remarkable strides and it’s our desire to help shape the cannabis landscape in the area and create buzz and excitement about medical and adult use.”
And until the use of marijuana is legalized in New Jersey, she said, “we have a very powerful supplement” in CBD.
Ehrlich contends that CBD has been shown to have calming effects, along with other positive health benefits. She said she gets at least two calls a day from people seeking advice on CBD as a non-addictive alternative to pain medications. The number one reason people look to CBD, she said, is to reduce anxiety.
And while research on CBD continues — among its possible uses, some believe, may be as a treatment for opioid addiction — it is making its presence known in Montclair just about everywhere you look.
With the popularity of CBD on rise, more and more products are emerging — tinctures, buds, edibles, creams and infused drinks. Major drug store chains in the United States are now looking to get in on the CBD phenomenon as well.
But all of this, in turn, means consumers need to use caution as they navigate what is essentially a new frontier.
A recent study by The Center for Medical Cannabis Education stated that only 36 percent of respondents reported that CBD treats their medical condition “very well by itself,” while 4.3 percent reported “not very well.” Another study by published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that only 31 percent of 84 lab-tested, hemp-derived CBD products contained the amount of CBD indicated on the label.
“Similar to any medicine, the consumers should always do their research,” said Allen.
There are various ways to consume CBD, including: smoking or vaping the leaves; relying on edibles such as gummies and cookies; putting it in a beverage; using capsules or topical lotions; or as a tincture under the tongue. For now, at least, the manner in which people consume CBD appears to be very individualized, in both the method they use and the dosage.
At Eclectic Chic Boutique, Celeste Munford stocks the shelves with her CBD products from her company, Third Day Hemp. There are jars of leaves and stems of hemp flowers, tinctures, balms, cosmetics and even a CBD-infused olive oil. Munford gets her CBD out of Oregon, from a farm that she says she knows and trusts.
Kristen Zachares, who owns the boutique, said clients come looking for help with pain, stress and recovery after doing yoga.
CBD products can contain THC, but the amount must be below the legal limits of .3 percent. Some of the products state they do not contain THC. But users are warned that they could test positive on a drug test since some products have trace amounts of THC.
All of Munford’s jars that contain leaves also contain a notice for law enforcement.
“Since our strain of hemp flowers looks so much like regular marijuana, a police officer might mistake it for marijuana,” Munford said. “So because of this chance of confusion, with each bag of hemp flower, we include a message to law enforcement about the product, as well as a copy of the current lab reports, showing that the batch from which your hemp flower was taken satisfies the federal government’s legal definition of industrial hemp.”
Munford also makes this disclaimer: “Our products are not intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease.”
“Starting low and slow” is the motto that CBD advocates seem to agree on when it comes to using CBD. Purchase a good-quality, lab-tested product and give it several weeks to make a positive impact.
“There’s a lot of junk on the market. And the truth is CBD doesn’t help everyone,” said Jessie Gill, a registered nurse who specializes in the use of medical marijuana and hemp-based products.
She said her patients are seeking relief from a wide variety of medical and psychological problems, including Crohn’s disease, colitis, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Reputable CBD products, she says, will have a batch number. Consumers can look up the lab’s batch-testing results using the batch number. Another red flag is the price, if it’s priced very low, don’t buy it, said Gill.
At Eclectic Chic, prices range from $33 for a small jar of tincture to $60 for a jar of the flowers. Temple balm is $65, olive oil is $20 and two pre-rolled cigarettes are $15.
Ehrlich suggests that those opting to use CBD keep a journal to track the results.
Gill also tells her patients that CBD is a complementary medicine and should not replace traditional options. She also emphasizes that CBD users should notify their pharmacists and doctors as CBD could interfere with some medications such as blood pressure and sugar-leveling prescriptions.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
A Canna Pop-Up event, co-sponsored by the Livingston Chamber of Commerce, will take place on Thursday, May 2 at Studio 355, 355 Eisenhower Parkway, Livingston. There will be product manufacturers and doctors on hand to answer questions.
Aging In Montclair will host a presentation on CBD this Saturday, April 27, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Salvation Army Building, 23 Trinity Place. The speaker, Joel Greengrass, is the chief executive officer of Theramu and is well-versed in the world of CBD and other cannabinoids, and the increasing role they play in health care.
“We’re not saying [CBD] is good for everybody or everything, but it really is a wonderful thing worth investigating,” said Allen.