Cannabis Syrup For Your Shakes, Smoothies, And Sauces

Azuca Cannabis Syrup Could Make Recipes Even Better

Dosage has always been one of the trickier aspects to figure out when it comes to making cannabis-infused edibles and beverages.

But a revolutionary new product seeks to change all that.

Meet Azuca, a unique line of cannabis-infused sweeteners and syrups. These all-natural products are designed to offer cannabis consumers more control in creating a limitless array of edibles; plus, its one-of-a-kind liquid formulation makes creating delicious shakes, smoothies, and sauces a breeze. The wide range of products come in various THC and CBD formulas which you can customize as you get creative in the kitchen with medicating.

The Azuca Sugars are perfect for those who are interested to experiment with microdosing. They are available in as little as 1mg of THC, giving you much more control over the whole experience. Now you no longer have to rely on just cannabutter to elevate your baking experience; let the sugar do the work, too! The sugars can also be used to sweeten your coffee, tea, and juices.

The Azuca Syrups are made with not more than 7 quality ingredients, which you can add to your smoothies and drinks. Making cannabis-infused beverages has never been so easy. Thanks to these products, you no longer have to get your hands dirty making infusions from scratch. What else can you make with infused syrups? The options are limitless! With flavors like pomegranate, orange, and lemon, the Azuca Syrups take medicating to a whole new level.

If you’re on a diet and want some sugar-free loving, check out the Azuca Stevia Drops. Now you can make guilt-free edibles with a sweetener that’s sweeter than sugar but calorie-free, perfect for those on Paleo or Keto diets. The Stevia drops can be used in any recipe for drinks or beverages.

Azuca’s other products include delicious ready-to-eat edibles. Snack on their Chocolate Coins, which have been made from artisan 60% cocoa and premium dark chocolate. They make the perfect dessert and will impress your guests the next time you have a dinner party. The Pate de Fruit is a cannabis-infused version of the popular French candies, but this time made with only real fruit syrups and natural vegan-friendly ingredients for a delectable experience.

Perhaps best of all is the impressive onset: consuming Azuca products take effect in just 2 to 15 minutes, compared to the onset of traditional edibles which can take 1 up to 4 hours.

Patent-Pending Formula

But what makes Azuca products different from everything else that’s on the market is the patent-pending technology that was used to create them. This technology was developed by Azuca founder and Chief Creative Officer Ron Silver, which involves wrapping cannabis molecules to enhance their water-soluble properties. Because of this, they’re more easily digested in your stomach, while avoiding the gut and liver which tends to slow down absorption and degrades the cannabis. You benefit from the improved water solubility because this translates to better bioavailability and quicker onset. So whether you’re consuming for medical or recreational purposes, it takes out the guesswork and waiting time.

Silver draws on his expertise as an established chef. He also owns Bubby’s, a well-loved chain of brunch restaurants with two branches in New York and seven outlets in Japan. Seeing the dearth of reliable edibles in the market, Silver was inspired to develop the technology to create Azuca and spend two years focusing on R&D. He was then able to create trustworthy edibles, as well as sweeteners and syrups that should be a staple in every kitchen.

“Even as cannabis becomes less stigmatized in the U.S., there is still a widespread issue with edibles causing unpredictable and negative experiences. Cannabis is a powerful medicinal plant with a myriad of health benefits that should not be deterred by a lack of trust. To resolve the common problems plaguing today’s consumers, Azuca edibles utilize a unique technology that delivers a more controllable effect. Launching with iAnthus is the first of many milestones for Azuca, as we continue to grow our brand and push the boundaries of product innovation,” Silver says.

All Azuca products are lovingly made in artisanal batches, so you can be sure of its quality, taste, and therapeutic benefits.

---

Watch out for the launch of Azuca’s CBD products, which will hit the shelves nationwide later this year. THC products are expected to be launched in licensed dispensaries in legal cannabis markets.


NYC chef brings cannabis edibles to city with Massachusetts on horizon

For nearly 30 years, Bubby’s has been a staple dining destination in New York City, and now chef and owner Ron Silver has set his sights on the booming cannabis industry in New York and Massachusetts with his new venture, Azuca.

Azuca is a line of fast-acting cannabis-infused sweeteners and syrups that are currently available at Bubby’s locations and will launch in Massachusetts sometime this summer.

“Because it’s hemp-based, it’s 100 percent legal,” Silver told Metro of the Azuca products at Bubby’s. “In Massachusetts, we’re launching with a company called iAnthus Capital Holdings and Mayflower Medicinal, and we’re going to do THC and CBD products, and we’ll also do blends of THC and CBD products with different sorts of ratios.”

Azuca, the Spanish word for “sugar,” came about after Silver spoke to cannabis industry experts about the biggest problem they were seeing, “and 100 percent of them said it was a low-dose, controllable edible,” he recalled. “I’m a chef, so that seemed like something that was in my grasp to figure out.”

With his chef’s mind, Silver dove into research and development, eventually coming up with “this sort of technology” that has three patents pending on it. While “it’s a closely held secret,” it involves cannabis molecules, he said. The result is a fast-acting line of date sugar, maple sugar, demerara sugar, stevia and agave products, which can be used as standalone ingredients, say for coffee and tea, or in baking for users to make their own edibles.

“There’s exactly 10 mgs in it,” Silver said. “That’s one of the big problems with edibles, people can consume too much because they take so long to kick in.”

While Bubby’s has been a hotspot for decades, Silver has seen “an amazing response” since the restaurants recently started offering Azuca’s hemp-based CBD products in lemonades, coffees and teas.

“People are coming in for CBD drinks, just to sit at the bar and have them, and I think a lot of people are coming back again,” he said. “It’s a nice, consistent place and way to have it — and it’s really a cool system that’s taking the mystery out of how to use cannabis. There’s really so many interesting benefits that don’t have to do with being couch locked playing video games.”

Read More


Sweet N’ High: Cannabis-Infused Sweetener For Your Kugel

He operates two massively popular Bubby’s restaurants in New York - and seven in Japan. He and wife Melissa have four adorable kids. He even co-authored a book on Bubby’s Homemade Pies in 2007.

Now, Silver’s tapping his rebellious roots to launch a different kind of edible: Cannabis-infused sweeteners whose high-tech formulation lets consumers know exactly what dose they’re getting and “how long it’ll take to kick in.”

Azuca, which Silver introduced at a packed Bubby’s press breakfast last week, will market sugars, syrups, and elixirs formulated “to help you enjoy the benefits of cannabis in a gentle, controlled way.” Azuca is infused with cannabidiol (CBD) from hemp, which is believed to offer medicinal benefits without “stoned” effects. It’s sometimes confused with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), whose psychoactive components create the “high” most people associate with weed.

While Azuca’s available in a 25-mg-dosed lemonade at Bubby’s right now, Silver and his partner have big plans. A state-by-state rollout’s planned, along with expansions to Canada, Europe, and Japan, where Silver’s already got business partners. Silver’s also teamed with iAnthus Capital, a venture-capital operation that targets the cannabis market, to design “the best program of high-quality edibles in the world” for eventual nationwide distribution.

Silver’s not the only Jew at the forefront of cannabis. The Forward has reported on California activists who have been instrumental in changing laws there. And on a recent flight to Denver for a 4/20 conference on the business of cannabis, “half the plane was Hasidim, heading to the same conference,” Silver laughed. “It’s difficult to discuss, because you get into stereotypes. But I think there’s an interesting fit for Jews.”

Born in New York City, Silver spent his childhood in Salt Lake City, where his father opened a footwear store in 1963 “to sell shoes to Mormon girls,” Silver laughed. “There were not a lot of Jews around, though Jews had a pretty significant impact there as merchants.”

A cannabis user since 1975 - he was 12 - Silver played “100% bad-boy Jew” as a teen. “The bad boy Jew fucks around in Hebrew school. He gets in trouble. He’s a smart-ass. He hangs out with his friends, and they’re all smoking weed, but not really into drinking that much,” he said. “I’m still considered the black sheep of my family, and the least likely to succeed.”

His restaurants are named for his main inspirations — Bubbys Pearl Stall and Miriam Silber, and “my third Bubby”, family friend Lucille Crismon. “I used to talk to them every week. Each was wise in her own way,” he said. “Pearl knew I was a troublemaker. Miriam knew I’d be a good chef. And Lucille knew I was going to be successful.”

Pearl Stall’s also at the center of an indelible, though pot-hazed, memory. “We were at a cousin’s house in Staten Island for a family seder. My grandmother was there with her boyfriend,” he said. “My cousins, the boyfriend and I snuck out for a doobie. We came back in, my grandmother looked at me, and just said ‘F*ck’. Sha hated weed. More bad-boy Jew business.”

Fast-forward to 2014: As a chef and restaurateur with famously exacting standards, Silver became frustrated at the fuzziness around cannabis edibles. “They’re unpredictable,” he said. “Part of it is the industry, part of it is your own body.” But through “a lot of processes” - three patents are pending on his products - he managed to crack the code of how long cannabis takes to kick in.

“We took the problem - slow and inconsistent edibles - and applied fast-acting technology to a series of ingredients that will allow consumers to know exactly how much they’re getting and how long it’ll take to kick in.”

Next on Silver’s agenda: Getting kosher certification for Azuca. “I’ve had pretty in-depth conversations with rabbis who kosher things, and this is perfect for koshering,” he said. “It’s in our plan.”

Would Azuca work well in traditional Jewish recipes? “We have an infused simple syrup that’s terrific,” he said. “It’s great in iced tea or lemonade. You could use it in a kugel.”

Read More


CBD Brands See High Potential in Half-Baked Category

Made by hand, the dark chocolate espresso chews from Lord Jones are designed to attract the most discerning of foodies. They're sourced, the company says, with the finest Ecuadorian dark chocolate and packaged in a colorful cardboard box emblazoned with the brand's royal crest. But these aren't your grandmother's chocolate chews. The confections contain CBD, an extract derived from hemp plants that's quickly becoming a panacea for the aches and pains associated with everything from menstrual cramps to cancer.

"The whole idea behind the brand was to normalize the use of these compounds for wellness and to destigmatize it," says Robert Rosenheck, a former ad exec who founded Lord Jones five years ago.
Priced at $30 a box, Lord Jones chocolates epitomize the upscale possibilities associated with hemp-derived CBD products. The brand, which began wholesaling in January and now sells at 100 boutiques nationwide, is collaborating with the Standard Hotel to stock its minibars, and has partnered with Icelandic band Sigur Rós on medicated sound baths. (For the uninitiated, that's a sort of music-meditation blend that does not include water.) Gone are the grungy stoner tropes popularized in pothead flicks like "Up in Smoke" and "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle"; this new breed of retailers and brands is promoting a more aspirational lifestyle associated with wellness and health.

Unlike their THC cousins, CBD products specifically promise relief from a variety of ailments, including nausea, inflammation, anxiety, arthritis, psoriasis and migraines. Some oils offer different mood treatments. And it helps from a retail perspective that these products don't get you high. Unlike marijuana-derived extracts, CBD (cannabidiol) has a negligible amount of THC, the compound that provides psychoactive effects, and is primarily associated with medical benefits, which is why a host of new companies are popping up offering their tokes—er, takes—on the trend.

Roughly 300 brands now offer CBD products—up from some 200 a year ago, according to Brightfield Group, a three-year-old Chicago-based market research firm focused on the cannabis and CBD industry. In 2017, total sales of hemp CBD were nearly $287.3 million, and the market is expected to hit $1 billion by 2020, according to Brightfield. Trend forecasters are calling out the growing field and its homeopathic implications as an alternative to pharmaceuticals.

"The anxiety epidemic is so high ... there's huge interest in natural or organic pain relief," says Faith Popcorn, futurist and founder of BrainReserve. "Millennials and Gen Z in particular tell us that they love natural, and of course, boomers love all things weed. There's a lot of wide opportunity."

If you can eat it or put it on your skin, it can be infused with CBD. In addition to chocolate chews, Lord Jones also sells CBD gumdrops, while some companies dabble in lollipops and others offer a shot of CBD oil in coffee, smoothies and plain old lemonade. Of course, many simply sell tinctures in dropper bottles. In Los Angeles, there's a growing movement toward the CBD "power lunch," which, even for L.A., seems extreme. At downtown restaurant Spring, three CBD-infused courses will cost you $37.

The CBD trend is "getting more glamorous, more designed, more stylish," says Popcorn.

Along with edible brands, beauty companies are infusing lotions and balms with the product. Popular brand Milk Makeup, which sells at Sephora, recently began offering a high-volume mascara "infused with conditioning CBD cannabis oil" that pledges to fuse "heart-shaped fibers to lashes for thickness without the fallout."

As more brands enter the category, there's a growing number of expos and events. The CBD Expo West, hosted by CBD Health and Wellness Magazine, takes place this September in Anaheim, California; more than 60 exhibitors are expected to attend. (A website promoting the event touts free samples.)

However, while opportunities abound in both sales and interest, experts say the current CBD field is primarily comprised of new-to-market and small brands just starting out. Larger companies have yet to enter the industry because of the nebulous nature of the legality of CBDs. Public companies, in particular, will also have a tough time convincing shareholders that they aren't trying to get kids high.

"The legal aspect of CBD is very confusing. There's a lot of gray area," says Bethany Gomez, director of research at Brightfield Group, noting that it's early days in terms of both legality and education. "More states are adopting CBD laws and people are able to start having a more educated discussion about products. There's much more medical research starting to go into CBD as well."

When Target, for instance, waded into the waters with an assortment of hemp and CBD-oil items last fall, it was only "for a brief time," according to a spokeswoman. The Minneapolis-based retailer no longer offers any CBD products. The spokeswoman declined to specify why Target pulled back on such items, though experts theorize it was because of CBD's edginess and lingering association with weed.

Because of the uncertainties, most brands and retailers market their wares through word of mouth. But even that is challenging, because they're not FDA-approved and so specific health claims cannot be made. L.A.-based Lord Jones, which works with internal and external branding experts, has never advertised. It relies on earned media through social outlets, as well as unpaid celebrity endorsements from Busy Philipps, Amy Schumer and others.

"There's a very real challenge—it's a regulated industry," says Marshall Rutman, VP of marketing at Resolve Digital Health, a Toronto-based medical cannabis company, noting the particular difficulties of advertising on Facebook, for example. "There's a lot of places where you can't advertise and your marketing efforts are hampered, so you have to figure out a new way to connect with consumers."

Rutman, a former marketer at Lululemon, advises that brands use digital platforms to more subtly tell their stories, or the stories of their patients, rather than advertise outright. While Resolve Digital, which launches in the U.S. in September, does not have any CBD-only products on its current roster, it plans to offer it in future products for cancer patients.

Some brands say the best way to attract more consumers is by normalizing the product, a strategy that's proven effective for Clover Grocery, a one-year-old gourmet health food store in New York City's West Village neighborhood. Clover's founder, Kyle Hotchkiss Carone, says that brands packaging CBD in a way that's easy to understand, like in candies or chocolates, has helped grow the number of people willing to explore the ingredient. Clover sells what Hotchkiss Carone describes as a curated assortment of CBD best-sellers—roughly a half-dozen products priced from $30 to $90, which generate around 15 percent of Clover's sales. The store always has a staff member on-site who is able to explain the CBD category to curious customers.

At Bubby's, a 28-year-old restaurant with two New York City and six Japan locations, the recent addition of CBD-infused drinks has been remarkably popular, according to owner and founder Ron Silver. Each week, the eatery sells, he says, around 700 lemonades, coffees and cocktails infused with a 25-milligram shot each of CBD. Separately, in Massachusetts later this summer, Silver plans to launch Azuca, a line of sugars and sweeteners infused with CBD and THC. For all interested customers, Bubby's hands out an educational guide with a printed article from Bon Appétit magazine to help them better understand CBD. The article explains what it is, how it's made, its benefits, applications and "what you should know before buying."

"It's a big educational job because it's a mystery," says Silver. "In a certain way, it falls into similar trends like turmeric or coconut oil."

As appeal and understanding grows, experts expect CBD to attract celebrity investment in new brands, helping to further the product's mainstream potential. However, as the field expands, so will the competition. The winners will be those who get in early, build a loyal following and tell the best brand stories.

"Right now it's a gold rush situation, where a lot of new products are coming on the market," says Hotchkiss Carone. "Without differentiating themselves a little way besides some branding, it's hard for consumers to understand what's good and what's not."

Read More


Is CBD Legal In New York? Where Can I Get It? How Much Should I Take? Will It Get Me High?

As the conversation around CBD (cannibidiol) has become more mainstream over the last year, more and more New Yorkers have become intrigued by its potential benefits. I've heard the same questions pop up again and again around the subject: what exactly does it do? Where do I get it? How much do I take? Is it going to get me stoned? And is it really legal?

There is now a robust online market for CBD products—and when you're dealing with a trusted, vetted brand such as Lord Jones or Bluebird, that is certainly one of the easiest ways to procure it. But there are also a lot of sketchy companies hocking inferior or fake products, and an enormous amount of contradictory literature online about how to get it. Below, you'll find some guidance in navigating the CBD world in NYC.

When it comes to serious ailments, you are still best served by talking to a doctor or medical professional. This is also true if you are taking any medications and want to experiment with some CBD (for example, if you are on blood pressure medication, you should be careful using CBD, which many take on its own as an alternative to traditional blood pressure medication — taking both will make you lightheaded). For otherwise healthy people trying to deal with everyday aches and stresses, with chronic migraines and joint pain and insomnia, you can test the waters on your own, or find someone knowledgable who can guide you through the process — thankfully, there are now resources for that in NYC.

"Up until maybe 18 months ago, you couldn't find CBD in New York to save your life," noted Josh Kirby, co-founder of California-based sublingual CBD company Kin Slips. "I grew up in New York, so I'm very familiar with how behind the state is drug policy-wise."

There's no shortage of businesses selling CBD products around NYC in 2018, whether they are bodegas, vape shops, beauty specialists or herbalists. There's Remedies Herb Shop in Carroll Gardens and MedMen in Midtown and the newly-opened BreadxButta in Crown Heights, but the closest thing to a CBD district in the city can be found in the East Village, where every block seemingly has a store that has integrated the product into their business, such as Cloud99 Vapes, CAP Beauty, and Flower Power Herbs & Roots. And the epicenter of that is The Alchemist's Kitchen, an upscale herbal and botanical dispensary and apothecary located on East 1st Street.

Alchemist's Kitchen has been ahead of the curve on all things CBD, making it the ultimate destination for New Yorkers trying to parse the difference between full spectrum and isolate.

"It's really an amazing time because it's such a movement," said CEO Lou Sagar. "The fact that [NYC] hasn't had all the liberation that California has had works to our interests too—let's be really medicinal, let's not fool each other."

"Some people want to get their Reiki on, some people want to drink their Reishi," Sagar added. "It's all part of the same community, so The Alchemist's Kitchen is just trying to be a place where you can have the dialogue. Where people can come in who have menstrual cramps or thyroid conditions and ask, is there something I can do? We're trying to use herbalists to say yeah, there is something to this, why don't you try this, put it in your tea? And that's working well."

Alchemist's Kitchen has its own CBD brand (Plant Alchemy), carries a few other brands, and puts on multiple educational events a month. CBD products only take up around 10% of their shelf space, but nevertheless, it's their fastest moving product. Though it costs a little more buying from them than going straight to the source online (they mark up Lord Jones products, for example, which you can buy easily online for less), their biggest selling point is the team of chatty herbalists on hand to talk you through all your questions—making it basically the botanical equivalent of Apple's Genius Bar.

"We see a lot of Baby Boomers coming in, people who may have been familiar with cannabis from another era, so to speak, but they're interested in the medicinal properties of it and how it can help their aging parents as well," said Emily Berg, an Herbal Program Manager with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things CBD. "They're intrigued. Maybe they've heard about it through word of mouth. A lot of people come in not knowing anything and sort of need the walk through, but it's definitely becoming more mainstream and popular. We see it now with coffee or in edibles, or as part of different yoga classes and experiences."

"The more I learn about it, the more I feel like everyone can benefit from it," she added. "So if you're in a lot of pain, and you need immediate relief, it'll help you achieve that. If you're about to have a panic attack, it'll help relax you in the moment. If you need to sleep, it's not actually a sedative, but what it does helps your brain recognize that it can go from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic, like fight or flight to rest and digest mode. So it's often helping your body to sort of get through any adrenaline that's rushing in the system, and realize how tired it might be, or help you to relax in that sense."

Even vape shops see it as their responsibility to educate the public about CBD use and dispel certain rumors. At Cloud99 Vapes on 2nd Avenue, it's a similar story: "We definitely try to have every staff member very knowledgeable of [CBD]," said James Dinh. "We want to give people the opportunity to get over the fear of it. CBD is one of those things where people think, 'Oh it's still THC,' and all that. But if they are able to get it from a store like this, they feel more comfortable with it. They say, 'Oh, this is a legitimate thing. I'm not getting it from some guy on the street.'"

"CBD, I personally believe, can replace almost any store drug," Dinh added. "It can 100% replace Advil, ibuprofen, and all those things, because it just makes your body work better."

CBD can also be found in your ice cream, cocktails, brownies and craft beers. NYC restaurants and eateries, including By CHLOE and Van Leeuwen, offered special CBD-infused food concoctions for 4/20 this year; The James NoMad Hotel launched a CBD-infused room service menu this summer; and coffee shops throughout the city such as Swallow, Caffeine Underground, Oliver Coffee and Flower Power Coffee House have been publicizing their own caffeine/CBD concoctions for months. And out-of-state company Monk started shipping their CBD drinking botanicals to NYC this month.

"It's the wild west right now," said Sagar. "There's a novelty to having CBD in your latte. And it's popular. But is that really the medicinal story? No. The medicinal story is how do you take it to make you less dependent on opiates? How do I do that to give me more self control over my mood? That's plant based, so there are a lot of companies that are becoming CBD companies."

While most places are just dipping a toe in the CBD-infused water with pop-ups and special events, Tribeca's Bubby's is all-in on CBD. Owner Ron Silver launched a line of CBD-infused items (sugar and syrups), called Azuca, which he's selling at the restaurant, where you can also get it in coffee, tea and lemonade.

"For the last four years I've been working on the legal cannabis markets, and just sort of seeing people experimenting in New York City and in Brooklyn with serving CBD coffees and stuff like that," Silver said. "I was encouraged to look into it and figure it out. It felt risky. I really had to convince not only my partners, but I had to convince my staff as well that it was fine. On every level, we have the intention of helping people to understand how they can use cannabis in a sane way and that it's not just some sort of stoner thing."

One of the biggest questions facing this burgeoning industry in New York remains the legal hurdles. Saying that there is a really convoluted framework for the industry is an understatement; it's more like a lot of nerve synapses with no central brain.

If the CBD is derived from marijuana, it is not legal in New York, except for people with medical marijuana prescriptions. If it is derived from hemp, as the vast majority of products you'd find around the city are, it is legal on a state-level. Even so, it's technically illegal on a federal level, as it hasn't been approved by the DEA or FDA.

The Farm Bill, which President Obama signed in 2014, protects hemp when it's grown under the state-regulated law. New York is in a particularly good spot for this, as Governor Cuomo has embraced that and adopted measures to encourage more industrial hemp production in the state.

"Right now, the prevailing sentiment is that as long as you can have a pure enough version of CBD, and it comes from cannabis that was grown specifically as hemp or grown out of the country and extracted and then imported into America, then it's pretty much legal," said Kirby. "It's not expressly allowed. There's no law on the books saying, 'All CBD products are allowed and here's how we regulate them.'"

DEA spokeswoman Barbara Carreno told WebMD that online sales of CBD products are illegal in the entire country because they are classified as a Schedule 1 drug. "The DEA can and does investigate large-scale trafficking of Schedule I substances," she said, and there have certainly been cases that bear this out: twenty-three stores in Tennessee were raided for selling CBD products as part of a sting known as "Operation Candy Crush" (charges against 19 employees were eventually dropped).

But Carreno added that CBD isn't a priority right now—the DEA has limited resources and prefers to focus on the opioid crisis, methamphetamines and cocaine. As Kirby put it, "Because there's not a strict ruling on the legality of the CBD on the federal level, everyone is kind of operating in this gray area. It's not a very risky gray area right now, but it is still a gray area." Barring Jeff Sessions personally instructing DEA agents to bust up herbal shops, the NYC establishments should all be fine.

Aside from the legality question, the next thing users want to know is how much to take at a time. The problem is that there has been so little peer-reviewed published research done on CBD, it's hard to point to any specific numbers to guide users. Many suggestions we've found online recommend anywhere from 10mg to 1500 mg. "That's a big problem!" said Dr. Orrin Devinsky, director of the NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Center who has been closely studying CBD for the last five years. "Outside of epilepsy, we have precious little scientific data on that."

Most experts I spoke with recommend a trial-and-error process of calibrating your own needs, starting with a tiny amount then building up from there. "It's important to understand that CBD is biphasic in its nature, so in small doses it's gonna make you feel more alert and activated, and then in larger doses, it's going to have more of a calming, sedating effect," said Berg. "With that being said, a large dose may not be suitable for every application of CBD, and that's why we kind of suggest microdosing. We also suggest that because your absorption rate depends on your metabolic rate. So with larger people it might be the case that they would need more to assimilate."

CBD is usually taken via a tincture (most recommend starting around 10 mg), ingesting it in food or capsule form (which takes longer to be absorbed, since it goes through your digestive track; gummies usually start at 10 to 25 mg), or topical oils/creams (which we've found highly effective when applied to areas where you have pain or inflammation; each pump of the Lord Jones lotion contains 2mg, and only two pumps are typically needed. It works immediately.).

CBD affects everyone differently, so adjust your expectations before you try: "The reality is that it's a very subtle effect anyway, it's just more of like a body sensation than a psychological sensation," added Berg. "So I think people are sort of expecting to feel maybe a wave of relaxation, which can be the case, but in order to manage expectations, I try to tell people it's subtle, and you know it depends on the dose. If you're not feeling it, you can always dose up."

Everyone involved in the CBD industry now only sees it expanding ever further as the way people use it continues to evolve. "There are tons of dispensaries in Las Vegas, and no one's gambling or drinking as much," noted Sagar. "They're trying to figure it out. How are we gonna get some money outta them? That's why a lot of people think the spirit companies will buy the cannabis companies."

Once marijuana is fully legalized here, Sagar sees a future in which you can go to a dispensary in New York City and curate your experience based on your specific needs. If you're someone who's really anxious, you can get a strain to treat your anxiety, without fear of a cannabis-induced panic attack. And once people can understand the nuances between different strains and how they're used, there will be more responsible use as well.

"We have conversations every day with huge corporations, like Walmart and Target and Sephora, and everyone is interested in getting into this business. And everyone has to figure out where there tolerance for risk is," said Cindy Capobianco, co-founder of Lord Jones. "It's bringing back ancient plant-based medicine which has been used for thousands of years, and our overarching goal is to de-stigmatize and normalize this plant. I think everyone who is in this business feels the way we do, that we're part of a movement that is not a moment in time. This is not a trend."

Read More


Keep Calm and Live in New York City: The Promise of CBD, the Cannabis Chemical That Won’t Get You High

One morning, about a month ago, I walked out of my Brooklyn apartment on a quick mission to buy shampoo and ended up having six drops of CBD, the cannabis-based elixir, administered beneath my tongue by a Coloradan named Bodē. Such things are liable to happen in New York City these days. Bodē was in Zoë’s Beauty Products, my local cosmetics store in Greenpoint, talking up a line of CBD tinctures to the women behind the counter. It was obvious from his laid-back vibe, and his R.E.I.-inspired look, that he was not from the area. I might have ignored his pitch, and gone about my business browsing aisles of thirty-dollar conditioner and lilac hand creams, except that CBD—also known as cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive chemical, found in marijuana and hemp plants, that has become the latest trendy ingredient among the wellness crowd—had been pursuing me around the city like the monster from “It Follows.”

It started earlier this year, when an acquaintance mentioned that she uses CBD to sleep. “It doesn’t get you high, it just chills you out,” she said. Later, I attended a crowded CBD yoga workshop, where an instructor named Brianna (who is now a field rep for a CBD-oil brand called Prime My Body) had us all ingest a dropperful of green goo from a communal bottle before settling into a series of restorative poses. After the class, one man proclaimed, to no one in particular, “I was so relaxed, I might have stopped breathing for a few minutes.” Then three coffee shops down the block from where I live started offering CBD-infused coffee. My local pharmacy hung a sign in the window proclaiming “Yes, We Have CBD!,” and 3 Roots, a juice bar in the neighborhood, put out a sandwich board with a laundry list of alleged CBD benefits scrawled in pink neon marker: “Anti-inflammatory, neuro-protective, anti-spasmodic, anti-depressive, anti-psychotic, anti-tumoral, anti-anxiety, antioxidant, mood-boosting.”

So I approached Bodē, who told me that his line of products, Bodē Wellness, which he makes in a tiny town near Telluride, includes two strengths of concentrated oil and two body balms—one unscented and one lemongrass, “for the ladies.” All are derived from industrial hemp, which contains almost no THC, making it legal to sell across state lines (though the legality of hemp is still somewhat murky). I told him that I had tried CBD in coffee, but that I hadn’t been able to feel its effects. He suggested that I try around 10mg of his strongest tincture, and that I hold the oil under my tongue for a minute before swallowing, to encourage “total absorption.” Then he offered to squeeze a dropperful into my mouth, right in the middle of the store. The oil was the brownish color of a stagnant pond, and tasted like old bong water with a hint of lemon. After ingesting it—perhaps, I will admit, because I really wanted to believe—I thought I felt something, a creeping sensation of serenity. I walked over to the East River and sat on a bench facing the water for almost an hour, feeling tranquil and unruffled, as if my nerves had been soaked in chamomile tea.

Later, in a phone call (which we scheduled around his farm’s “siesta schedule;” he returns to the fields at 4:21 p.m., “CBD Hemp time”), Bodē told me that his given name is Eric. He’d gotten into CBD after a girlfriend who was “working in the marijuana industry but really wanted to be a hempster” started dragging him along to hemp conferences. He had been working for more than a decade in natural foods, and had recently exited a marriage; he decided it was time for a change of scene, and a change of name. “I wanted my new name to feel like the tree of life, Bodhi, but also have this flair of body health and wellness,” he said. “And then I had seen someone else put the macron over a vowel in their name, so that’s how that happened.” After successfully peddling his wares to the beauty store, he told me, he’d continued through Brooklyn, like a hippie Harold Hill. The health-food devotees at the Park Slope Food Co-op, he said, had also agreed to carry Bodē Wellness. “They have seventeen thousand members,” he told me. “That’s more people than the town next to me in Colorado.”

Like many New Yorkers, I tend to be deeply wary of the nouveau-wellness movement that has crept into the city from L.A., with its Goopian buzzwords and mushroom tonics and colloidal silver—the idea that you can shop your way to an internal glow. New York’s CBD craze has already reached Dadaesque levels of consumerism—hundred-dollar tinctures to treat anxiety in pet cats and dogsCBD-laced room service at the NoMad location of the James hotel, in Manhattan. But CBD, with its potential to unclench tense muscles and pacify anxious thoughts, also promises to deliver something that many New Yorkers desperately need. Some of us will try anything that promises to soften the city’s edge, especially if it doesn’t require a prescription. Verena von Pfetten, a co-editor of the New York-based marijuana life-style magazine Gossamer, told me that her personal CBD regimen includes five to fifteen milligrams of tincture nightly, with an occasional extra daytime dose during mentally taxing periods. “With it, I can have an even amount of sleep, and avoid significant periods of stress,” she said. “This is about consistently keeping your body at a regular equilibrium.”

CBD also provides New Yorkers an alluring first whiff of mainstream cannabis culture at a time when the state’s leaders, having lagged behind other East Coast states in legalizing marijuana, seem to finally, maybe be coming around. (Mayor Bill De Blasio recently ordered the N.Y.P.D. to issue summonses instead of arresting people for smoking weed; Cynthia Nixon, in her campaign to challenge Andrew Cuomo for governor, has been outspoken about how marijuana’s criminalization disproportionately affects people of color.) Even if New Yorkers can’t yet enjoy carefully dosed artisanal weed gummies and attend multi-course marijuana dinners (at least not many), we can perhaps, with glugs of CBD in our matcha shakes, regulate and optimize our moods in the way we imagine West Coasters are doing every day. Better still, hemp-derived CBD, absent weed’s psychoactive effects, is palatable to the high-achieving New Yorker who still thinks of marijuana as a stoner’s drug, or at least a threat to productivity—you can swill a little at your local coffee shop in the morning, alongside your fellow-commuters, and still put in a ten-hour workday.

It’s worth noting, too, that many doctors believe that CBD has genuine medicinal value. Just last month, the F.D.A. approved a CBD-based drug for the treatment of Dravet syndrome, a childhood epilepsy disorder. I spoke to Esther Blessing, a psychiatry professor at N.Y.U., who believes that cannabidiol “is unprecedented in the field of neuropsychiatry” because it appears to have the potential to treat a wide variety of disorders—its best-documented effect is its ability to increase levels of anandamide, a neurotransmitter that counteracts stress. But she says that the research is still preliminary, and the unregulated market for CBD means that consumers are left to sort out the hemp oil from the snake oil. Yasmin Hurd, a doctor at Mount Sinai who uses four-hundred- to eight-hundred-milligram doses to study CBD’s benefit in opioid-addiction treatment, told me that hoping for therapeutic effects from a dosage as low as what’s found in commercial products like CBD coffees, which tend to contain only around twenty-five milligrams, is “ridiculous.” Joshua Kaplan, a neuroscientist whose upcoming research on CBD’s effects on epilepsy, anxiety, and autism will involve “vaping with mice”—said that the research he’s seen indicates that taking small doses of five to twenty-five milligrams multiple times a day could, “in theory,” help reduce anxiety levels over time. “Does one dose of twenty-five-milligram CBD do much of anything for an adult with anxiety?” he said. “The data don’t support it.”

The practice of small, daily CBD dosing is what Ron Silver, the owner of Bubby’s, a comfort-food restaurant with two outposts in Manhattan, tells me he wants to popularize among New Yorkers. Silver recently started offering a CBD-infused sugar called Azuca on Bubby’s coffee menu. I sat with him recently on the patio of the restaurant’s West Village location, which had started to fill with overheated tourists who had spilled off of the High Line, looking to recharge with twenty-one-dollar banana nut pancakes. We sipped on ten-dollar Azuca-sweetened iced coffees, served in tall glasses with green-and-white swizzle straws. (The restaurant also serves Azuca pink lemonade, Azuca iced tea, and, for three dollars more, Azuca watermelon lemonade.) Each beverage, Silver told me, contains only around twenty-five milligrams of CBD, but he believes that drinking one a day can have profound anti-inflammatory and stress-relieving effects over time. “I introduced it here, because right now if someone wants a CBD coffee at Starbucks they can’t get one,” he said. “But they should serve them, and one day they will.”

Silver, a native of Utah, has been in New York for decades, but he has retained a vaguely Lebowskian air from years spent on the West Coast. He started developing Azuca five years ago, when he was looking to get further into the “cannabis space” and wanted to make a product that he could actually sell at Bubby’s, which he considers to be a kind of live-beta testing ground. (He is also developing a line of THC-based edibles based in Massachusetts.) He told the newspaper amNewYork that CBD was “the penicillin of the 21st century.” When I asked him if he meant that as cheeky hyperbole—penicillin, after all, has saved millions of lives—he said that he stands by the statement. “There’s two aspects to the whole CBD thing,” he said. “One is that it is trendy and could easily fall into the same trend as turmeric or coconut oil. The other, though, is that it actually works.”

Not long ago, I purchased a small bottle of “full spectrum hemp extract” from Bluebird Botanicals, another Colorado-based company, which is sold at a local drugstore. It cost twenty-five dollars and contained two hundred and fifty milligrams of CBD. If you consider this ten doses of twenty-five milligrams at $2.50 each, it sounds like a pretty good deal for an anti-anxiety supplement. It’s less than a latte; it’s cheaper than therapy. But investing in a multiple-times-a-day habit seems like a lot to wager on a product that is still so little understood. I kept the bottle in the fridge (apparently this keeps the oil fresh, though I do it because it dulls the taste) and used it only sporadically, which likely defeats the point. I took an emergency dose when I was in the throes of a migraine; I also took two extra-strength Tylenol and—why not—rubbed some eucalyptus essential oil on my temples. The next morning, I went into Littleneck Outpost, another coffee shop in my neighborhood. They had just put up a new sign next to the register advertising CBD coffee and five-hundred-and-twenty-milligram bottles of Plant People brand extract, priced at eighty dollars. When I asked the owner how it’s selling, he told me that it’s “flying.” “I think it’s a placebo effect,” he said. “But this is definitely the turmeric of 2018.”

Read More


Cannabis Entrepreneurs Ask For More 'Science'

Kim Sanchez Rael leads a company that creates sugars and syrups. Dr. Michele Ross, a neuroscientist is creating a trans-dermal pen to deliver medicine. Their passions intersect in the world of legal cannabis and the desire for more research there.

Sanchez Rael, co-founder and chief executive of Azuca, creates fast-acting infused “sugars, syrups, and other elixers.” Because she grew up in the “unscientific misinformation” of the Nancy Reagan “Just Say No” years she says, Sanchez Rael feels strongly that robust research and public education needs to focus on the safe and effective use of cannabis, rather than scare tactics.

Patients are curious about marijuana, but as a Schedule One substance, it has “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,” according to the US Department of Justice. That means research into potential positive effects of cannabis is severely restricted.

Currently, Israel leads the world in cannabis research. Tikun Olam clinics there studied thousands of cancer patients who were prescribed cannabis for “malignancy-related symptoms,” like nausea. pain, and decreased appetite. The results published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, show the substance can be safe and effective.

Sanchez Rael says that as laws, investments and public opinion evolve, cannabis industry leaders need to “educate policy makers at every level and partner with them,” from local city councils and mayors to Congress and the White House.  A Pew poll published in January 2018 found that 61% of Americans believed marijuana should be legalized, a number that has nearly doubled since 2000.

Ross, author of Vitamin Weed: A 4-Step Plan to Prevent and Reverse Endocannabinoid Deficiency echoes the importance of scientific research and education, especially when it come to the opioid crisis. Thought leaders in legal marijuana need to make doctors and others aware of cannabis’ benefits as a safe alternative to opioids she said. “There is an extraordinary amount of work that needs to be done by the cannabis industry,” she said, especially compared to the community outreach and education the pharmaceutical industry does.

Ross is also a board member at NanoSphere Health Sciences, a biotechnology firm using a patented delivery technology to create transdermal pens used to administer cannabis. In her research into mental health, Dr. Ross has become fascinated by the endocannabinoid system, potential benefits of cannabis and the plant itself. “The cannabis plant has over 111 cannabinoids as well as chemicals including terpenes and flavonoids,” Ross said, “The potential applications …are endless.”

Read More


New York City Restaurant Takes Comfort Food to New Heights

In the 28 years since it opened, Bubby’s has become a culinary staple in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood, a no-frills, family-friendly restaurant known for such comfort-food favorites as pancakes and pie.

Now, Bubby’s is taking comfort to a whole different level.

The restaurant, which has a second location in the Meatpacking District that opened in 2013, is the latest in New York City to introduce menu items made with cannabidiol, a derivative of the cannabis plant, as in marijuana or hemp.

And while cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, doesn’t yield the “high” associated with tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC), another cannabis compound, it often is touted by cannabis supporters and some medical experts as offering a host of benefits, including stress and pain relief.

Starting this week, Bubby’s will feature drinks made with hemp-derived CBD. The offerings, including coffee, tea and lemonade, will sell for $10 each.

Bubby’s owner Ron Silver has long been interested in cannabis from a medical and business perspective.

“I’d rather sell cannabis drinks than liquor drinks any day of the week,” he said. (Bubby’s continues to serve alcohol as well.)

Even without the CBD products, Mr. Silver said business at Bubby’s has been strong during the past year, with sales up nearly 13% over the same period last year.

Bubby’s two New York City restaurants have annual revenue of about $16 million, he said.

The Drug Enforcement Administration considers CBD a controlled substance, like marijuana itself, and therefore is illegal.

But in New York and some other states, the production of hemp-derived CBD is legal as a result of federal agricultural legislation that allows for the cultivation of hemp as a crop at the state level, according to Shawn Hauser, a senior associate with Vicente Sederberg, a law firm based in Colorado that specializes in marijuana issues.

In April, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, announced an expansion of a state research program that looks at how hemp can be grown for a variety of industrial uses, from food to animal bedding.

“By providing an alternative crop for our farmers, industrial hemp has the potential to change the landscape of our agricultural economy,” Mr. Cuomo said at the time.

In the city, Bubby’s is hardly alone in adding CBD to its offerings. A wave of food and beverage retailers is putting the cannabis compound in everything from frozen desserts to coffee drinks.

Soho Cigar Bar in lower Manhattan recently has introduced a line of CBD cocktails, with names like Quality Burn and Netherlands & Chill.

“You’re always looking for the next new ingredient,” bartender Jared Bailey said.

Mr. Silver said he has plans beyond Bubby’s for CBD offerings. With a team of investors, he has launched a company, called Azuca, that will market CBD and marijuana products in New York and elsewhere, as laws apply.

Azuca CEO Kim Sanchez Rael said the company has raised at least $1 million from investors, including Mr. Silver. “We expect to be a global brand,” she said.


What are the benefits of CBD — and is it the magical elixir that will save us from our anxiety?


A cannabis derivative called CBD — short for cannabidiol — has been zealously appearing on menus at coffee shops and cocktail bars in New York City and beyond. Flower Power CoffeeVan Leeuwen ice cream, By Chloe and an Astoria bar called Adriaen Block have all recently introduced CBD-infused items on their menus, promising all the chill of weed with none of the high.
CBD oil is one of the latest health fads to enter the zeitgeist (there’s a long list of these — ranging from medically sound advice to questionable things like avoiding carbs for eternity). For an extra $2, you can get 15 milligrams of CBD added to your cold brew (or matcha or tea) at Patent Coffee, the first Manhattan coffee shop to provide CBD, Emily Williams, the store’s general manager, said in a phone interview. The shop advertises CBD as a boost with benefits; an easel outside the storefront highlights the supplement’s supposed superpowers, which include pain and anxiety relief.

I tasted Patent’s cold brew with and without the tincture, which has a slightly earthy, if not totally tasteless flavor. The shop uses CBD from a brand called Tru Organics, which can be purchased online starting at $69 for a 1-ounce bottle and squirted into just about anything.

CBD versus THC: Will CBD get you high?

While CBD is derived from the cannabis plant — the same one that’s used to produce marijuana — it’s not an intoxicant, meaning it won’t get you stoned. CBD is just one of the many of cannabinoids found in cannabis — THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the one responsible for the high, is another. The type of CBDthat’s legal in states where weed isn’t is typically derived from hemp, a cannabis plant that has very minimal traces of THC.

CBD as a wellness remedy

Williams, of Patent Coffee, said she first learned about CBD and how it might help diffuse her own anxiety after she saw how cannabis impacted her husband, who procured a medical marijuana card from the city of New York per his doctor’s recommendation. At the time, her husband was on five different prescription medications, and with the help of marijuana, was able to get off of all of them. “The biggest thing he was able to go off of was morphine — most of the other drugs were meant to counteract the side effects of morphine,” she said, explaining that the medications contributed to other side effects.

The sign in front of Patent Coffee

Williams chose to start taking CBD — figuring the lack of THC meant it wouldn’t disrupt her ability to work — and believes it has helped her manage her anxiety. “I start my day with 30ml and then half way through the day, I take another 15ml,” she said. She introduced CBD to Patent Coffee on April 20 and said the interest has only surged since. “Being in New York, this is where everyone wants to try everything to be healthy besides going to the gym,” she said. Williams said she sees the same patrons every day get their supplement put in their morning beverage, and new, curious customers regularly.

Despite there not being much substantial proof surrounding CBD’s benefits (more on this later), Ron Silver, chef and owner of Bubby’s restaurants in Manhattan recently launched his own line of cannabis edibles called Azuca. Silver’s products include a range of sweeteners and syrups that he said will kick in within 15 to 30 minutes because of how the ingredients are metabolized. Azuca CBD products are available in New York; Azuca with THC will be available in Massachussetts in September, with plans to expand to multiple states in the coming months.

CBD’s benefits, as told by marketers

Marketers are giving CBD the ultimate health halo treatment. And sure, there’s something particularly “wellness-y” about taking an expensive potion to get back into balance, as Cannabis FeministJessica Assaft told Well and GoodDirty Lemon, a beverage company that adds different, trendy supplements to its formula, launched a CBD-infused formula in July. Zak Normandin, CEO and founder of the brand, said that Dirty Lemon is at “the forefront of wellness trends” and provides its customers with “functional ingredients,” citing previous Dirty Lemon beverages that included charcoal and collagen. Normandin said the “benefits [of CBD] include relief from chronic anxiety, stress management, decreased muscle and joint pain, acne reduction and improved sleep quality.” The product also contains l-theanine, he added, “a therapeutic ingredient found in tea that is known to improve cognition, heighten alertness and promote tranquility.” Research around l-theanine’s benefits is murky, and while it has shown to promote calmness when consumed in its natural state — namely in black tea — more research is needed to show its impact as a supplement.

Does CBD actually work?

This all sounds great — and perhaps an easy avenue for self-improvement — but none of the claims are evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, as the back of Dirty Lemon’s bottle reads. And this brings us to the science behind CBD: There’s little research on the effects of CBD, and much of the support for the supplement is anecdotal rather than journal-based. This doesn’t mean that CBD doesn’t work, just that claims should be substantiated by medical experts before we all go buying CBD-infused everything.

The back of a bottle of Dirty Lemon + CBD

“Research had been prohibited all these years,” Joel Stanley, the founder and chairman of CW Hemp, a Colorado-based hemp company that recently collaborated with Moon Juice to create special wellness drinks, said over the phone. “In the next decade, we’ll have a lot more answers to so many of the questions [around CBD].” Early research has identified CBD as a possible treatment for conditions like high blood pressurephysical pain and anxiety, but many of these studies have minuscule sample sizes or are observed in rat subjects, rather than human ones. There are glimmers of progress in this field: Earlier in 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex, an epilepsy medication made with CBD shown to help treat specific types of seizures in children. Epidiolex is the first prescription medication with CBD to gain such approval in the U.S.

There are nuances surrounding CBD and its effectiveness. Najeeb Hussaini, a board-certified family physician who evaluates patients to see if they qualify for medical marijuana at NY Medical Marijuana Associates, said in a phone interview that CBD “is certainly not known to cause any beneficiary affects by itself.” Hussaini stressed that CBD does have properties that contribute to physical and mental pain relief, but in order to reach the body’s pain receptors, it requires some dosage of THC to get into the bloodstream and kick in. “Ultimately, [in order to reach] the pain receptors you need to target, the chemical has to attach itself to the THC receptor in order for it to work,” he said. “CBD by itself — I don’t even know if it really goes anywhere if you ingest it.”

What’s next for CBD research

ProjectCBD, a nonprofit working to promote research into the medical uses of CBD, writes on its website that “scientific studies have established that CBD and THC interact synergistically to enhance each other’s therapeutic effects.” They add that despite the misconception that “THC is the bad cannabinoid,” and “CBD is the good cannabinoid,” the two work best together. As ProjectCBD writes, “extensive clinical research has demonstrated that CBD combined with THC is more beneficial for neuropathic pain than either compound as a single molecule.”

“One ability we have now is that anecdotal evidence is becoming more meaningful to the scientific community,” Stanley, the founder of CW Hemp, said. “At this point for marijuana and for hemp, the anecdotal evidence is hundreds and thousands. People are saying, ‘This is working,’ and finally we are studying it because we know there’s something there.” As for these anecdotes that support using CBD in a more recreational sense, one staffer at Esquire described the supplement as giving her “all the upsides of a glass of wine, but without the fear that you’re going to accidentally tell your co-workers something embarrassing.”

As a consumer, it’s important to pay attention to where the product comes from and how it’s being tested. Just like with any health trend, certain companies will hop on the bandwagon to make a quick buck without paying close attention to the products’ actual effects. “You’re always going to see the green rush, with companies that are coming in and it’s just about making money on something popular and the companies don’t really care about the active ingredient,” Stanley said, adding that this happens in almost all vitamins and supplements.

Hussaini, the doctor, remains skeptical. “If anecdotally it’s giving people good feelings, sure,” Hussaini said, lingering on the fact that CBD alone hasn’t been shown to be properly absorbed by the body. “[The CBD] isn’t going to jive,” he said. “Over-the-counter stuff tends to basically be gimmicks and they’re certainly not going to be effective in my medical opinion.”


Is CBD Legal In New York? Where Can I Get It? How Much Should I Take? Will It Get Me High?

Part 1 of our CBD story can be found here: An Introduction To The Soothing World Of CBD

As the conversation around CBD (cannibidiol) has become more mainstream over the last year, more and more New Yorkers have become intrigued by its potential benefits. I've heard the same questions pop up again and again around the subject: what exactly does it do? Where do I get it? How much do I take? Is it going to get me stoned? And is it really legal?

There is now a robust online market for CBD products—and when you're dealing with a trusted, vetted brand such as Lord Jones or Bluebird, that is certainly one of the easiest ways to procure it. But there are also a lot of sketchy companies hocking inferior or fake products, and an enormous amount of contradictory literature online about how to get it. Below, you'll find some guidance in navigating the CBD world in NYC.

When it comes to serious ailments, you are still best served by talking to a doctor or medical professional. This is also true if you are taking any medications and want to experiment with some CBD (for example, if you are on blood pressure medication, you should be careful using CBD, which many take on its own as an alternative to traditional blood pressure medication — taking both will make you lightheaded). For otherwise healthy people trying to deal with everyday aches and stresses, with chronic migraines and joint pain and insomnia, you can test the waters on your own, or find someone knowledgable who can guide you through the process — thankfully, there are now resources for that in NYC.

"Up until maybe 18 months ago, you couldn't find CBD in New York to save your life," noted Josh Kirby, co-founder of California-based sublingual CBD company Kin Slips. "I grew up in New York, so I'm very familiar with how behind the state is drug policy-wise."

There's no shortage of businesses selling CBD products around NYC in 2018, whether they are bodegas, vape shops, beauty specialists or herbalists. There's Remedies Herb Shop in Carroll Gardens and MedMen in Midtown and the newly-opened BreadxButta in Crown Heights, but the closest thing to a CBD district in the city can be found in the East Village, where every block seemingly has a store that has integrated the product into their business, such as Cloud99 Vapes, CAP Beauty, and Flower Power Herbs & Roots. And the epicenter of that is The Alchemist's Kitchen, an upscale herbal and botanical dispensary and apothecary located on East 1st Street.

Alchemist's Kitchen has been ahead of the curve on all things CBD, making it the ultimate destination for New Yorkers trying to parse the difference between full spectrum and isolate.

"It's really an amazing time because it's such a movement," said CEO Lou Sagar. "The fact that [NYC] hasn't had all the liberation that California has had works to our interests too—let's be really medicinal, let's not fool each other."

"Some people want to get their Reiki on, some people want to drink their Reishi," Sagar added. "It's all part of the same community, so The Alchemist's Kitchen is just trying to be a place where you can have the dialogue. Where people can come in who have menstrual cramps or thyroid conditions and ask, is there something I can do? We're trying to use herbalists to say yeah, there is something to this, why don't you try this, put it in your tea? And that's working well."

Alchemist's Kitchen has its own CBD brand (Plant Alchemy), carries a few other brands, and puts on multiple educational events a month. CBD products only take up around 10% of their shelf space, but nevertheless, it's their fastest moving product. Though it costs a little more buying from them than going straight to the source online (they mark up Lord Jones products, for example, which you can buy easily online for less), their biggest selling point is the team of chatty herbalists on hand to talk you through all your questions—making it basically the botanical equivalent of Apple's Genius Bar.

"We see a lot of Baby Boomers coming in, people who may have been familiar with cannabis from another era, so to speak, but they're interested in the medicinal properties of it and how it can help their aging parents as well," said Emily Berg, an Herbal Program Manager with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things CBD. "They're intrigued. Maybe they've heard about it through word of mouth. A lot of people come in not knowing anything and sort of need the walk through, but it's definitely becoming more mainstream and popular. We see it now with coffee or in edibles, or as part of different yoga classes and experiences."

"The more I learn about it, the more I feel like everyone can benefit from it," she added. "So if you're in a lot of pain, and you need immediate relief, it'll help you achieve that. If you're about to have a panic attack, it'll help relax you in the moment. If you need to sleep, it's not actually a sedative, but what it does helps your brain recognize that it can go from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic, like fight or flight to rest and digest mode. So it's often helping your body to sort of get through any adrenaline that's rushing in the system, and realize how tired it might be, or help you to relax in that sense."

Even vape shops see it as their responsibility to educate the public about CBD use and dispel certain rumors. At Cloud99 Vapes on 2nd Avenue, it's a similar story: "We definitely try to have every staff member very knowledgeable of [CBD]," said James Dinh. "We want to give people the opportunity to get over the fear of it. CBD is one of those things where people think, 'Oh it's still THC,' and all that. But if they are able to get it from a store like this, they feel more comfortable with it. They say, 'Oh, this is a legitimate thing. I'm not getting it from some guy on the street.'"

"CBD, I personally believe, can replace almost any store drug," Dinh added. "It can 100% replace Advil, ibuprofen, and all those things, because it just makes your body work better."

CBD can also be found in your ice cream, cocktails, brownies and craft beers. NYC restaurants and eateries, including By CHLOE and Van Leeuwen, offered special CBD-infused food concoctions for 4/20 this year; The James NoMad Hotel launched a CBD-infused room service menu this summer; and coffee shops throughout the city such as Swallow, Caffeine Underground, Oliver Coffee and Flower Power Coffee House have been publicizing their own caffeine/CBD concoctions for months. And out-of-state company Monk started shipping their CBD drinking botanicals to NYC this month.

"It's the wild west right now," said Sagar. "There's a novelty to having CBD in your latte. And it's popular. But is that really the medicinal story? No. The medicinal story is how do you take it to make you less dependent on opiates? How do I do that to give me more self control over my mood? That's plant based, so there are a lot of companies that are becoming CBD companies."

While most places are just dipping a toe in the CBD-infused water with pop-ups and special events, Tribeca's Bubby's is all-in on CBD. Owner Ron Silver launched a line of CBD-infused items (sugar and syrups), called Azuca, which he's selling at the restaurant, where you can also get it in coffee, tea and lemonade.

"For the last four years I've been working on the legal cannabis markets, and just sort of seeing people experimenting in New York City and in Brooklyn with serving CBD coffees and stuff like that," Silver said. "I was encouraged to look into it and figure it out. It felt risky. I really had to convince not only my partners, but I had to convince my staff as well that it was fine. On every level, we have the intention of helping people to understand how they can use cannabis in a sane way and that it's not just some sort of stoner thing."

One of the biggest questions facing this burgeoning industry in New York remains the legal hurdles. Saying that there is a really convoluted framework for the industry is an understatement; it's more like a lot of nerve synapses with no central brain.

If the CBD is derived from marijuana, it is not legal in New York, except for people with medical marijuana prescriptions. If it is derived from hemp, as the vast majority of products you'd find around the city are, it is legal on a state-level. Even so, it's technically illegal on a federal level, as it hasn't been approved by the DEA or FDA.

The Farm Bill, which President Obama signed in 2014, protects hemp when it's grown under the state-regulated law. New York is in a particularly good spot for this, as Governor Cuomo has embraced that and adopted measures to encourage more industrial hemp production in the state.

"Right now, the prevailing sentiment is that as long as you can have a pure enough version of CBD, and it comes from cannabis that was grown specifically as hemp or grown out of the country and extracted and then imported into America, then it's pretty much legal," said Kirby. "It's not expressly allowed. There's no law on the books saying, 'All CBD products are allowed and here's how we regulate them.'"

DEA spokeswoman Barbara Carreno told WebMD that online sales of CBD products are illegal in the entire country because they are classified as a Schedule 1 drug. "The DEA can and does investigate large-scale trafficking of Schedule I substances," she said, and there have certainly been cases that bear this out: twenty-three stores in Tennessee were raided for selling CBD products as part of a sting known as "Operation Candy Crush" (charges against 19 employees were eventually dropped).

But Carreno added that CBD isn't a priority right now—the DEA has limited resources and prefers to focus on the opioid crisis, methamphetamines and cocaine. As Kirby put it, "Because there's not a strict ruling on the legality of the CBD on the federal level, everyone is kind of operating in this gray area. It's not a very risky gray area right now, but it is still a gray area." Barring Jeff Sessions personally instructing DEA agents to bust up herbal shops, the NYC establishments should all be fine.

Aside from the legality question, the next thing users want to know is how much to take at a time. The problem is that there has been so little peer-reviewed published research done on CBD, it's hard to point to any specific numbers to guide users. Many suggestions we've found online recommend anywhere from 10mg to 1500 mg. "That's a big problem!" said Dr. Orrin Devinsky, director of the NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Center who has been closely studying CBD for the last five years. "Outside of epilepsy, we have precious little scientific data on that."

Most experts I spoke with recommend a trial-and-error process of calibrating your own needs, starting with a tiny amount then building up from there. "It's important to understand that CBD is biphasic in its nature, so in small doses it's gonna make you feel more alert and activated, and then in larger doses, it's going to have more of a calming, sedating effect," said Berg. "With that being said, a large dose may not be suitable for every application of CBD, and that's why we kind of suggest microdosing. We also suggest that because your absorption rate depends on your metabolic rate. So with larger people it might be the case that they would need more to assimilate."

CBD is usually taken via a tincture (most recommend starting around 10 mg), ingesting it in food or capsule form (which takes longer to be absorbed, since it goes through your digestive track; gummies usually start at 10 to 25 mg), or topical oils/creams (which we've found highly effective when applied to areas where you have pain or inflammation; each pump of the Lord Jones lotion contains 2mg, and only two pumps are typically needed. It works immediately.).

CBD affects everyone differently, so adjust your expectations before you try: "The reality is that it's a very subtle effect anyway, it's just more of like a body sensation than a psychological sensation," added Berg. "So I think people are sort of expecting to feel maybe a wave of relaxation, which can be the case, but in order to manage expectations, I try to tell people it's subtle, and you know it depends on the dose. If you're not feeling it, you can always dose up."

Everyone involved in the CBD industry now only sees it expanding ever further as the way people use it continues to evolve. "There are tons of dispensaries in Las Vegas, and no one's gambling or drinking as much," noted Sagar. "They're trying to figure it out. How are we gonna get some money outta them? That's why a lot of people think the spirit companies will buy the cannabis companies."

Once marijuana is fully legalized here, Sagar sees a future in which you can go to a dispensary in New York City and curate your experience based on your specific needs. If you're someone who's really anxious, you can get a strain to treat your anxiety, without fear of a cannabis-induced panic attack. And once people can understand the nuances between different strains and how they're used, there will be more responsible use as well.

"We have conversations every day with huge corporations, like Walmart and Target and Sephora, and everyone is interested in getting into this business. And everyone has to figure out where there tolerance for risk is," said Cindy Capobianco, co-founder of Lord Jones. "It's bringing back ancient plant-based medicine which has been used for thousands of years, and our overarching goal is to de-stigmatize and normalize this plant. I think everyone who is in this business feels the way we do, that we're part of a movement that is not a moment in time. This is not a trend."