From 2014 to 2016, Jamie Johns was taking 28 different medications.
She already beat breast cancer, so when Johns learned she also had cervical cancer, her doctor suggested she try cannabidiol, or CBD, to see if it would offset some of the negative side effects from chemotherapy.
Johns says she was able to come off all 28 medications, some of which were meant to help with chemo, while others treated unrelated medical issues, such as a thyroid condition.
“Once you start taking CBD, it works in the receptors in your body, and regulates and balances your whole system,” she said.
While she can’t guarantee it will have the same effect for everyone who tries it, Johns was inspired by her own experience with CBD, and wanted to offer that same relief to others living in pain.
In August, she and her fiancé, Jake Bolander, opened Hempy’s in Spring Hill. Three more locations have since opened in Middle Tennessee by other franchisees.
One of the biggest challenges to opening a CBD store, Bolander said, is educating the public about what it does and doesn't do.
“Everybody's had such a horrible view on marijuana over the last hundred years … and this is its brother, so that must be bad too,” he said. “We constantly educate them on it.”
Hempy’s is one of a handful of CBD shops that have opened in Williamson County since the federal Farm Bill was passed by U.S. Congress in December, which classified hemp as an agricultural commodity and removed it from the federal controlled substances list.
Industry projected to exceed $20 billion by 2024
What's the difference between hemp and marijuana? The devil is in the details, but the biggest difference is that hemp cannot get users high.
Hemp is essentially a word used to describe varieties of cannabis that contain 0.3% or less of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound that creates the “high” for people who use it.
However, hemp has much higher levels of CBD than cannabis varieties high in THC, most frequently referred to as marijuana.
In other words, all hemp is cannabis, but not all cannabis is hemp. By law, CBD products cannot contain more than 0.3% THC.
The products run the gamut: Creams, ointments, bath bombs, food, beverages, pet treats, gel capsules and oils can all be infused with CBD.
Hempy's best selling products are cremes, oils and raw flower, which can be smoked or made into a concentrated oil for cooking and baking.
The rise of specialty CBD stores have become a unique foil to the simultaneous “retail apocalypse” seen among major brick and mortar chains across the U.S. in recent years that have forced hundreds of store closures to stay afloat.
A recent market analysis of the industry, as reported by Forbes, projects the CBD market will exceed $20 billion by 2024.
On average, according to the study, CBD consumers are around 40 years old, have higher education and are more likely than non-consumers to have full-time employment.
New shop in Grassland
It's easy to miss Williamson County's newest CBD shop, tucked away in the back of a large building along Hillsboro Road in Grassland. If you follow the signs, they'll lead you to Grassland CBD, a small room that boasts a wide range of products.
Owner Darin Masters just opened the shop this month. While much of his career was in sales and construction, Masters opened a small e-juice (the nicotine-filled liquid in vape pens) manufacturing company five years ago.
Masters became acquainted with CBD through his own health challenges, including insomnia, allergy and sinus issues and back pain from years of competitive skateboarding.
“I got it for the insomnia, and then to my surprise, it helped with my lower back pain and inflammation, too,” Masters said. “It made my sinuses unclog as as well as sinus medication did, so it really helped with inflammation all over (my) body.”
But even though the products contain such trace amounts of THC, there's no promise it wouldn't be detected in a urine drug screening. Literature posted in Masters' shop encourages consumers to stop using CBD products in the days leading up to a drug screen.
As the market for CBD and hemp products grows, Masters' only concern is whether small retailers will be able to compete with corporations that start to carry them.
“The thing is, you're not going to get the customer service and knowledge at a Kroger or CVS, as opposed to a small business like mine,” he said.
Where you can buy it
While it's become increasingly popular for larger retailers to start carrying them, here are some shops in Williamson County that strictly sell hemp and CBD products.
- Hempy's CBD, 4910 Main St, Spring Hill.
- Grassland CBD + Hemp Dispensary, 2187 Hillsboro Rd Suite 300, Franklin.
- Tn Hemp Co., 248 2nd Ave S, Franklin.
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Reach Elaina Sauber at firstname.lastname@example.org, 615-571-1172 or follow @ElainaSauber on Twitter.