Capitalizing on a growing trend, Mark Woronchuk and his business partner opened their store, CBD Kings, on Abbott Rd. in South Buffalo last September.
They sell ingestable oils, edible gummies, creams, coffee, vapor products and smokeable plant buds containing the chemical CBD or cannibidiol. Like marijuana, it comes from the cannabis plant, or hemp. But this stuff is legal here — and gaining popularity.
"You get a real mind-calming relaxation-type feeling," said Woronchuk, who first used CBD products himself to alleviate pain from a shoulder injury and help him sleep better. "You don't get high. You get calm."
That's because legally, these products must contain only very small amounts (less than .03 percent) of THC, the compound in marijuana that often leaves a person feeling intoxicated.
Dr. Laszlo Mechtler heads the medical cannabis clinic at the DENT Neurological Institute in Amherst. He says there are many benefits CBD can provide with minimal side effects.
"It's marijuana but without getting high," he said. "It helps anxiety. It helps you sleep. It's an anti-inflammatory. And it also helps pain."
Managing pain is the reason Nick Furhmann, a chiropractor who owns Fuhrmann Health Services in Orchard Park, makes his own CBD cream and sells it to his patients.
“If the back's hurting, you rub it right on the back. If the neck's hurting, you put it right on the neck. It's going to absorb right into the skin and affect the nerves and the tissue right where the pain is," Fuhrmann said.
While Furhmann says his patients have had success with his products, Mechtler says the research shows using topical creams or cosmetics with CBD only goes skin-deep.
"Locally could it help joint pain, arthritis? The answer is yes, it could. There's no signs that that's getting absorbed [into the rest of the body] at all,” he said.
Since the CBD products in stores or online are not government-regulated, Mechtler calls the industry the "Wild West" and warns people to be cautious of what they're putting in their bodies.
"Could there be containments in there? Sure could. Could there be high THC in there? Could be. You just don't know," Mechtler said. "And that's the danger of buying CBD products."
Mechtler says it's much safer to talk with a doctor about using CBD as part of the medical marijuana program.
At CBD Kings, Woronchuk says they say what they sell is laboratory-tested, so they know exactly what's on the shelves.
"I would like it to eventually be regulated so that people would know and feel more safe about what products they’re getting and what's in their products," Woronchuk said.
Mechtler, Woronchuk and Furhmann all agree that much more research is needed on CBD and its effects. Mechtler says that's more likely to happen after recent moves by the federal government to change the way CBD is classified as a drug and legalize hemp for industrial use.