LACONIA — Cannabidiol, one of the chemicals found in marijuana and hemp plants, has been surging in popularity lately, especially since the federal government separated it from the same legal category as marijuana. While marijuana has intoxicating characteristics, hemp and CBD do not. That’s because hemp plants have only trace levels of another chemical, THC, which is what causes psychoactive effects associated with being “stoned.”
However, while hemp won’t get you “stoned,” the CBD can have effects in the body and, for some people, those effects have been life-changing. Three such people, with ties to the Lakes Region, have recently gone into business, bringing CBD products to the marketplace even while the FDA urges caution.
“Other than one prescription drug product to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy, the FDA has not approved any other CBD products, and there is very limited available information about CBD, including about its effects on the body,” the FDA stated in a release posted on its website on July 17.
For Dianne and Ashley Goolgasian, mother and daughter, the evidence to them is clear, enough for them to open New Hempshire CBD’s on Main Street on Sept. 20.
“It’s a wonderful plant that can help you in so many ways,” Ashley said of hemp. At their store, they sell tinctures, ointments and creams that are infused with CBD, but their sales leader is the smokeable hemp, specifically, pre-rolled hemp cigarettes.
The cigarettes – it’s ok with the Goolgasians if you call them “joints” – are popular with people who want the relaxation of a marijuana cigarette with the “high,” or the illegality. They’re also popular with people who are trying to quit tobacco, but still want something to smoke.
The success of the smokeable hemp makes Dianne wish they could offer something stronger for legal sale.
“If this takes off, I would love, if the laws change, for this to be a (marijuana) dispensary,” Dianne said.
So far, their clientele includes high school athletes who use the CBD creams to nurse injuries, people in their 20s and 30s who use products for relaxation, “and the over 50 crowd with the aches and pains,” Dianne said. She has a blood disorder, and suffered from chronic bronchitis, when she started using CBD while she was living in Florida.
“CBD, for me, has been wonderful,” Dianne said.
Mike Nieves had a similar experience with CBD. “Two years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. I had no idea what CBD was,” he said. A former girlfriend saw a post he made about his illness on social media, and sent him a bottle of CBD to help him through his treatments.
“It helped me with the pain, it helped me sleep again,” Nieves said. However, he said that he was frustrated by the plethora of products available, some of which weren’t what they purported to be. So, he decided to provide a product he could stand behind, and that’s how he became a franchisee for American Shaman, a nation-wide company that provides an industry-exclusive water-soluble CBD product, which it claims is more easily absorbed. Other CBD products are oil-based.
Nieves, who is in a business partnership with his parents, said he liked the American Shaman model because it provides a simple space that won’t be confused with what he called a “smoke shop.”
American Shaman opened earlier this month on Union Avenue in Laconia. So far, Nieves said, his customers have been “Older, health-minded individuals who don’t want to walk through a vape shop.”
Local residents might remember Megan Lyman, who graduated from Gilford High School in 2009, as the girl who beat the odds – and underwent seven surgeries – to survive pediatric cancer. Or they might remember her as the young woman who won Miss Teen New Hampshire, and later Miss New Hampshire. Now, she wants to be known as the woman who helps people understand what she calls the healing properties of cannabis.
Lyman, who now lives in southern California, had been living in Tampa, Florida, when she received another devastating diagnosis, for ulcerative colitis. Her doctors told her she would have to go on a very strict diet, and that they could offer her a prescription that would only dull the symptoms, but that there was nothing they could do to cure her.
“One doctor said, do some research on your own and see what will be the right thing for you… That’s where I found that there were people finding success with cannabis,” Lyman said.
Those people were in California, where the state laws and cultural attitude toward marijuana were far different than what she had grown up with in New Hampshire. Willing to try anything, she moved to the west coast to work with a doctor that specialized in holistic medicine that involved cannabis therapy.
“After two months of treatments, I was completely cured of ulcerative colitis,” Lyman said, adding, “which is still considered untreatable.”
That experience spurred her to learn more, so she took a course about cannabis and health, and just about a year ago she launched Cannibabe, a vegan CBD product company that offers CBD capsules, body oil, lip balm and pet tinctures.
Starting her company has been a “wild ride,” she said, especially since finance institutions don’t really know how to deal with a CBD company. But, she said that the more she learns about cannabis, the more she is convinced that sharing her experience with others is what she should be doing.
“Through creating Cannibabe and sharing my story, I have found there are so many more people who are suffering,” Lyman said. “I want to share with as many people as I can to try and inspire people to try using CBD.”