CHICAGO — It's creating a buzz in the market place. It's not the same as medical marijuana, but some people are turning to CBD for relief. The products are spreading like weeds, making promises to ease all kinds of ailments. You don’t need a special medical card to purchase it, and you certainly won’t have any trouble finding it. But does it work?
The hum of a high-speed blender is a familiar sound at RealGood Stuff Co. in River North. They mix up dozens of healthy juices a day. Brennan Urbi walked us through a popular recipe.
“We’ll start off with eight ounces of coconut water, do a little dash of cinnamon, handful of kale," Urbi said.
But the real buzz here is a little something you can add to your smoothie.
“Finish it off with six drops of CBD," Urbi said.
CBD is now everywhere. A fresh crop of stores popping up on city streets and in suburban strip malls — even gas stations and liquor stores are getting in on the CBD action.
Elizabeth Perez, Garfield’s Beverage Warehouse's assistant manager, said it's very popular and said it's been selling much more rapidly than we even anticipated.
At the English Daisy, a charming antique store in Northwest Suburban Barrington, owner Carolyn McFeely stocks her CBD selection in a hand-made, European armoire.
“Some people when they walk in for the first time they whisper, ‘Do you have the CBD?’ And it’s kinda funny. Everybody gets a little laugh out if it," McFeely said.
Among the antique crystal and vintage china, you’ll find gummies, topicals and tinctures — that’s oil you put under the tongue using a dropper.
“We’re a gift shop, consignment and antique shop. You wouldn’t think we’d have it, but it sells," McFeely said.
But it’s not just her clients who are eating up the CBD. Java, McFeely's horse, gets it, too.
“We do hide it in his food, and we sometimes have to put molasses on it, but you know, any of the other horses will take it right out of your hand," McFeely said.
Lexy Zachrich has a former race horse named Lobizon. The horse has a few aches and pains and also uses CBD. Zachrich said it helps him move more freely.
Both horses have come off their prescription anti-inflammatory medications now that they are munching on CBD pellets.
“It also keeps them just kind of happy instead of getting anxious about things," Zachrich said.
Where medical cannabis is tightly regulated and controlled by the state, the CBD products industry is a bit of the wild west.
CBD — or cannabidiol — is not marijuana, but it is extracted from the same variety of plants, specifically a form of the cannabis plant called hemp. The 2018 U.S. Farm Bill made it legal to cultivate hemp for CBD, touted for its anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects, among other health benefits, with restrictions — it must contain less than 0.3% THC, that’s the psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis that makes you high. Hemp plants are known to be high in CBD and low in high-causing THC.
Dr. Rahul Khare, a former Northwestern Memorial Hospital emergency room physician, who recently opened a Northside CBD store, Innovative Wellness, cautions users.
“There are some horror stories where some CBD has THC in it. People get tested, and they fail their drug test, so you have to be very careful about where you purchase your CBD," Khare said.
Khare provides lab reports and so does McFeely for her products, which she started carrying after CBD helped her mother, Margaret McFeely, recover from shingles. Her mother said CBD was the only thing that has helped.
“The reason why people think CBD works for so many different chronic diseases is because it decreases anxiety. When you decrease anxiety, all of a sudden, you feel better about everything. So, it is a difference, and it improves quality of life, but it’s not like a pain medication that you can get from your doctor, like an opiate or muscle relaxer," Khare said.
“It doesn’t work for everyone, but for those people it works for they are awfully glad to have it," McFeely said.
CBD products are not federally regulated, but the FDA is expected to start regulating CBD products within the next two years.
For more information about Khare and Innovative Wellness visit innovativewell.com.