by Mike Dunphy
Just as the breath of life involves contraction and expansion, so too does Montpelier’s downtown business community. Adding a sweeter fragrance to that air is Lauren Andrews, owner of AroMed, who has expanded her business thanks to rapid growth and a loyal customer base here and in the flatlands. While the retail space will remain at 8 State Street, Andrews has taken over a second space on the third floor of 73 Main Street to serve as an office, production facility, and workshop.
“The retail space has been very successful, and we’ve been doing all of our production there,” Andrews explains, “but as we have gained more wholesale orders for our CBD line and our essential oils, and our online presence has increased, we’ve outgrown that space. I was feeling claustrophobic and had no space to do any creative work. I really got away from what my passion is, and that is making the products.”
The popularity of CBD, or cannabidiol—a non-pyschoactive chemical in cannabis that’s inserted in everything from coffee and dog food to chocolates in Montpelier nowadays—is certainly a major part of what’s driving AroMed’s sales. But it’s not the only one, according to Andrews. “CBD has played a part in our success, absolutely, but people are also fans of our body care products and essential oils because we are very committed to having synthetic-free products.”
Indeed, it’s not the ingredients alone that win customers but skill in the preparation and combination of those ingredients, skill that Andrews learned starting in her years as a psychiatric nurse. “I was working at Central Vermont Medical Center. We were developing a sensory integration program, and we didn’t have anything for olfaction, so I introduced essential oil use to the patients. It was extremely popular, and I realized I needed to educate myself.”
From there she attended a five-week course at the Aromahead Institute in Ithaca, New York. “What impressed me about aromatherapy is all the science that backs up why essential oils are so effective. Really, aromatherapy at its essence is chemistry.” Once CBD got into the mix, Andrews got a Professional Certificate in Cannabis Science and Medicine from the University of Vermont. “I felt that if you are selling this, you have a responsibility to know how to teach people to use these products safely.”
One example of how her training, knowledge, and intuition has grown the business is the shop’s most popular product—an arnica and white willow based lotion that includes organic, analgesic essential oils of clove bud, spike lavender, and plai, as well as CBD extract. Thanks to locals who have shared the product with friends living out of state, tourists who pick it up while in town, and, according to Andrews, “cuz it’s really good,” orders for the lotion come in from as far away as Hawaii.
This online component is a big reason why the larger production facility is needed, as are AroMed’s sales to wholesalers, which grows daily despite almost no active effort. “We have our products in 12 stores from Brattleboro to Burlington so far, and we haven’t even put in a lot of effort. Retailers are calling us,” she notes. “It’s really clear that there’s a real demand for our products.”
It’s also important to Andrews that she supports Vermont farmers whenever possible, noting that the CBD oil she uses is extracted by Nutraceutical Science Laboratories, just a few miles away in Waterbury, “This is where we are ahead of the game and why so many people are seeking out AroMed CBD, because we support Central Vermont farmers,” She explains. “It feels very good knowing that our money is not spent in Colorado or Kentucky, where most of the CBD sold in Vermont is coming from, We are selling Vermont CBD.”
With the July 1 date set for marijuana legalization, Andrews is already thinking ahead. “I have entered into a joint venture with Buzz Ferver from Perfect Circle Farm. We are starting a consultation venture together as we approach July 1. We anticipate many community members will want to grow their own marijuana and need help obtaining female clones, guidance on cultivation techniques, and education on how to make cannabis remedies.”
Nor is Andrews worried that once THC becomes commercially legal, it will eat into the CBD sales, noting that many customers specifically ask for products that do not produce the high. Indeed, the impact of the opioid crisis has brought in many people seeking relief from pain but without the psychoactive effects. “One thing is becoming more clear to me when getting feedback from customers is that CBD and essential oil therapies are helping people decrease the number of pharmaceuticals they are currently on, or in some cases, helping people avoid taking pharmaceuticals altogether. So when given a choice between CBD or a potentially addictive drug for pain reduction, of course more and more people are reaching for CBD.”
Frequently Asked Questions About CBD
by Lauren Andrews
What is CBD?
CBD (cannabidiol) is one of dozens of active chemical compounds (or cannabinoids) found in the hemp plant.
Does CBD come from marijuana or hemp?
Marijuana and industrial hemp are two different varieties of cannabis that come from the same species of plant (Cannabis sativa L). In general, CBD is found abundantly in both. It is CBD extracted from industrial hemp that is legal, and currently being marketed in Vermont, and must contain no more than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). If a hemp plant contains more than 0.3 percent THC, it is then technically a “marijuana” plant.
Will CBD get me high?
CBD will not get you high. It is the THC molecule that binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain that is responsible for the psychotropic effects of marijuana. CBD can, however, decrease anxiety and facilitate a calming or sedating effect on some users.
How does CBD work?
CBD functions by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the body’s own endocannabinoid system. “These receptors have been found in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment.” Go to norml.org if you want to learn more.
How do I take CBD?
* CBD is best taken orally via drops placed under the tongue, and held for 60 seconds before swallowing. The CBD is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream via the capillaries in the mouth.
* Topical creams, oils, and salves are also helpful for skin conditions and addressing aches and pains, but only about 10 percent of applied CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream via the skin. For chronic inflammatory issues, a combination of topicals and internal use is most effective.
* CBD, taken in capsule form, is best when addressing gastrointestinal inflammation, such as IBS.
* Vaping or smoking CBD rich hemp is a rapid route of absorption and can be a useful delivery method when a quick response is needed, e.g., for anxiety, pain reduction, or insomnia.
* Edibles, such as truffles, cookies, coffee, or gummy bears are popular and delicious introductions to CBD, the “gateway” CBD product, if you will.
How do I know what dose of CBD to take?
Dosing involves many variables, and is person specific. Finding the correct dose for you may require attentive self-monitoring and experimentation. Many of AroMed’s customers report dosing between 10 and 60 mg of CBD per day total, depending on the health issue being addressed.
Are there side effects of using CBD? Is it safe?
The only significant known risk is vaping CBD oils that were produced with a thinning agent, such as propylene glycol. When vaped, propylene glycol produces a known carcinogen, formaldehyde. CBD oils produced by carbon dioxide extraction for vaping are much safer with better efficacy. CBD is generally safe with no known side effects, although some users have reported sedation, lightheadedness, or lowered blood pressure. Collaboration with your health care provider related to CBD use is recommended, particularly if you are taking pharmaceuticals.
Is CBD legal?
CBD oil from industrial hemp is legal in Vermont (and retail sales are taxed), but legality in some other states, and on the federal level, differ. The confusion related to the legal status of CBD is largely related to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s designation of all cannabis extracts, including CBD, as a Schedule I drug (i.e., heroin, LSD, or mescaline) with no medicinal value. Cannabis has never met the criteria of a Schedule I drug. But, there is big news just in, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently threw his support behind the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which would legalize the growing and selling hemp under federal law.
Does CBD show up in drug tests?
THC is the “problematic” cannabinoid looked for in drug tests. CBD is not, and generally a non-issue for those that require testing. That being said, when purchasing CBD products, choose your source carefully and be sure batch testing is being done to ensure purity and that THC levels are indeed below 0.3 percent.
How do I discern quality?
Reputable CBD producers, product makers, and sellers are transparent and share test results upon request. Other markers of quality are sustainable, organic growing practices and using locally grown and extracted Vermont CBD hemp oil. Many CBD products sold in Vermont come from Colorado or Kentucky. That fact is not widely known by local consumers who believe they are supporting local farmers.
Where can I find medical studies on CBD?
Project CBD is a non-profit organization dedicated to documenting the research progress on CBD, and references hundreds of scientific/medical peer-reviewed studies. The studies reference CBD use as it relates to ADHD, addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, migraines, neurodegeneration, chronic pain, and many more. Visit projectcbd.org/guidance/conditions.
Lauren Andrews, RN, Clinical Aromatherapist and President of AroMed Aromatherapy is a graduate of UVM’s Cannabis Science and Medicine Certification Program.