East Lyme — Whether a connoisseur of cannabidiol products or a curious newcomer, visitors to the new Medi-Releaf Wellness Center in East Lyme likely won't struggle to find what they're looking for — and then some.
In terms of food and drink infused with CBD, there's granola, gummies, honey sticks, dried fruit, eight flavors of popcorn (for “if it's movie night and the kids are stressing you out,” owner Tianne Pape said), chocolate, cookies, coffee, protein powder, kombucha, and sparkling water in flavors such as tangerine turmeric and lemon lavender.
Prices might be $6.95 for a sparkling water, $40 for a 10-ounce bag of dark-roast coffee or $15 for a small pack of high-strength gummies infused with melatonin.
For bath and body, there are body butters, bath bombs, lip balms and creams that are good for specific injuries, such as a torn rotator cuff or a finger hit with a hammer, Pape said.
Then there's the oils, vapes, loose herbs, capsules and supplements, not to mention the books on what to do with all these things. Plus, there's a pet section, with CBD dog and cat treats.
CBD comes from the same plant as marijuana but doesn't have THC, meaning it has no psychoactive effects. Many point to CBD for helping them with issues such as anxiety, sleeping problems and pain.
A study published in Frontiers in Immunology in September called CBD a “useful and promising molecule” with potential use for epilepsy, substance abuse, PTSD, depression and bipolar disorder, and various clinical trials are ongoing.
The products in Medi-Releaf are ones anyone can buy, without a prescription or consultation.
Pape opened the shop and wellness center in June next door to Pape Chiropractic & Wellness Center, which she opened in 2010. She holds a master's in nutrition and a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from the University of Bridgeport, and has done postdoctoral work at the University of Connecticut in biochemistry.
Pape, 40, was educated about CBD in 2016 and then started a CBD clinic within Pape Chiropractic.
“The results spoke for themselves,” she said. “I didn't have to convince anybody.” But she said they were at capacity and didn't have enough staff, so opening Medi-Releaf was the logical next step.
With her background, she aims to educate customers, provide a nonjudgmental space, and offer the assurance that she's not selling products that either lack actual CBD or contain THC, which other stores might. Medi-Releaf says its products are third-party certified and lab-tested.
“This is not about potheads and the demographic that people think it is,” Pape said.
Diane Mariani, 64, said she has issues with carpel tunnel and arthritis, and she had used CBD oil in the past that she got from a health food store. She had heard about CBD from a friend, and Mariani was already going to Pape Chiropractic.
She was one of the people to come through Medi-Releaf for the center's opening on Aug. 1, which featured free samples, raffles and informational booths from Ceres Natural Remedies, Metagenics and Canna Care Docs.
Medi-Releaf put out pita, hummus, tabbouleh, baba ganoush and tahini from East Lyme's Taza Grill, infusing the spreads with a small amount of CBD.
Along with the shop, Medi-Releaf also has people on staff offering CBD yoga, massages and facials.
Kristan Sprague, who works as an aesthetician at Medi-Releaf, said she is new to the CBD world and learning as she goes along, but that incorporating CBD oils and serums into facials can help with anxiety and create relaxation.
Many of the products contain disclaimers on their packaging stating that the claims haven't been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, which Pape compared to claims one might see on vitamin and mineral supplements, though CBD products cannot be sold as dietary supplements.
The FDA has approved a prescription medication containing a form of CBD to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome.