CBD offers ‘health without the high’ says owner of area’s first store

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Guilderland High School graduate Christian Spenziero has opened the Capital District’s first store devoted to CBD, or cannabidiol, products.

GUILDERLAND — The products sold at Your CBD Store Albany, which opened this week, all come from organic industrial hemp grown in Colorado, according to Christian Spenziero, owner of the shop at 2027 Western Ave., at the corner of routes 20 and 155.

Your CBD Store is a national franchise, and Spenziero launched the Albany shop as a test site; if it goes well, he hopes to open two or three others in the Capital Region within the year, he told The Enterprise.

For decades the federal government lumped marijuana, which contains the psychoactive drug THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), with hemp, which contains little THC. Both are the same species: cannabis. The 2014 Farm Bill, however, made it easier for states to let farmers grow hemp in test programs — including at Indian Ladder Farms in New Scotland.

This past year, the Farm Bill made it legal for farmers to grow hemp and for companies to sell its derivative, CBD (cannabidiol), and the bill allowed states to regulate CBD and hemp. CBD has blossomed in use, with a 2019 Consumer Reports survey finding that 26 percent of Americans have tried CBD in one form or another in the past two years.

Because the federal government considered it illegal for so many years, research on CBD and its health effects was limited. The federal Food and Drug Administration recently approved one prescription drug with CBD, named Epidiolex, used to treat epilepsy.

A 2017 study, “Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online,” published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found, “There is growing consumer demand for cannabidiol (CBD), a constituent of the cannabis plant, due to its purported medicinal benefits for myriad health conditions. Viscous plant-derived extracts, suspended in oil, alcohol (tincture), or vaporization liquid, represent most of the retail market for CBD.

“Discrepancies between federal and state cannabis laws have resulted in inadequate regulation and oversight, leading to inaccurate labeling of some products,” the study says.

Products from the Your CBD Store franchise use third-party testing at two stages, Spenziero said, with the hemp tested at Your CBD Store’s manufacturing plant in Florida before processing, to make sure that it contains no contaminants. Then the products are tested again, when the oil is processed, to confirm that the amount of cannabinoids is as advertised; customers can scan a QR code and see that third-party report for themselves, Spenziero said.

Your CBD Store’s manufacturing plant is currently applying for a Hemp Authority Symbol, which indicates that a company has passed an audit of its manufacturing processes and testing. Consumer Reports recommends looking for this symbol, although it notes that only 13 companies now offer it, and many more are currently in the application process, with more approvals expected.

Consumer Reports also recommends asking for a Certificate of Analysis, which Spenziero’s store includes on its website for every product it sells. This information is also available by scanning a QR code on any product, he said.

“All of our products are ‘health without the high,’” said Spenziero, a 2006 Guilderland High School graduate who earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University at Albany. He also runs Spenergy Group LLC, a commercial lighting company.

Anyone with pain or inflammation or who suffers from anxiety or insomnia can benefit from CBD products, Spenziero asserted. CBD experts are on hand to talk with customers, he said, to discuss their symptoms or conditions and suggest products that might work best.

Products offered include tinctures, which are hemp extracts combined with organic MCT, or medium-chain triglyceride, oil, with a water-soluble type that is dissolved in water or juice and another type that dissolves under the tongue.

The water-soluble tinctures are all “broad-spectrum” CBD, which contains 0 percent THC, one of over 100 cannabinoids in cannabis, Spenziero said. THC is used in the store’s “full-spectrum” CBD products, but in miniscule amounts of 0.03 percent.

None of these products produce a high, Spenziero said, because all either have very small amounts of THC or none at all.

The water-soluble products are faster-acting than the sublingual, he said; the water-soluble ones work in about seven minutes, while those placed under the tongue take about 25 to 30 minutes.

All of the store’s products also contain other cannabinoids, Spenziero said, as well as terpenes. Terpenes are an organic compound found in hemp, he said. The combined effect of all of these, he said, has a greater effect than using just CBD alone.

The company processes all of its own product, Spenziero explained. It owns all of its processes, including a proprietary nano-emulsion used in its tinctures. This process gets the CBD down to 25 nanometers, Spenziero said, where the industry standard is 100 nanometers. The smaller molecules make absorption quicker and more efficient, he said.

“All of our products do critical-CO2 extraction rather than ethanol extraction,” he said, “because the process allows us to get a purer product, without any other solvents or contaminants.”

Other CBD products that the store sells include edibles: hard candies, gummy bears, vegan gummy bears, and honey sticks.

It also has beauty products such as lotions, collagen face cream, daily moisturizer, and chapsticks, as well as bath bombs that, Spenziero said, “make for a really relaxing bath.”

The store sells topical pain creams of varying strengths. Spenziero uses these for pain that he feels from breaking his collarbone years ago.

The store also carries pre-filled vape cartridges and vape juice in a tincture bottle, he said. The vaping products are the fastest-acting of all, he said, taking effect in about five minutes.

Even pets can benefit from CBD, Spenziero said. Your CBD Store sells tinctures for dogs and cats — with serving suggestions on the bottle, based on the pet’s size. These come in peanut butter, bacon, and natural flavors.

“A lot of people will give dogs a treat before a long car ride,” Spenziero said, noting that the products are good for animals with pain, arthritis, or anxiety.

The store name contains Albany rather than Guilderland, Spenziero said, because he is trying to appeal to customers in a wide geographic area. The closest other Your CBD Store franchise is in Ithaca, he said.

The store offers free samples, as well as a variety of discounts. For the month of June, all products are 20-percent off. Veterans always receive a discount of 22 percent, he said.

“Every day, about 22 veterans take their lives because of PTSD,” he said, referring to post-traumatic stress disorder. “We do this in order to honor veterans,” he said of the discount to them, “and give back.”

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