NEWBURYPORT â€” Cape Ann Botanicals, owned by Ipswich resident Spencer Kalker, will be expanding in a couple of weeks when it opens the cityâ€™s first cannabis-related business on Pleasant Street.
Cape Ann Botanicals specializes in selling products containing cannabidiol â€“ or CBD â€” a hemp-derived compound that lacks THC, the intoxicating ingredient found in marijuana, but is said to offer a variety of medicinal benefits, including treatment for pain, inflammation and anxiety.
When the shop opens in January, downtown Newburyport shoppers will be able to purchase CBD products that include oil tinctures to be dissolved on the tongue, vaporizers, balms, lotions, chocolates and even dog treats.
KalkerÂ â€” whose other business, Old Planters of Cape Ann â€“ working to set up a marijuana retail dispensary in Rowley â€” opened his first CBD shop in Ipswich in July and said he hoped to give the community insightÂ on the benefits of the cannabis plant.
â€śWith cannabis, thereâ€™s such a chasm between perception and reality, and so much is still being discovered,â€ť he said. â€śWe felt there wasnâ€™t enough education for the community and we wanted the store to be an educational emporium for people to come in and discover it for themselves.â€ť
Kalker said that inÂ the months since Cape Ann opened in Ipswich, the shop has been embraced by manyÂ residents and has earned its fair share of returning customers who tout the benefits of CBD.
â€śItâ€™s at a point now where everybody loves us, and weâ€™ve been doing reasonably good business,â€ť Kalker said, addingÂ that he looks forward to opening in Newburyport, where he hopes to shed light on what he believes to beÂ the benefits of cannabis.
â€śI hope we can help give people a better perspective,â€ť Kalker said. â€śIâ€™m there to provide an opportunity for people to find relief.â€ť
CBD products have not been evaluated by the federal Food and Drug Administration, and while studies have indicated a level of legitimacy for CBD products in treating some symptoms, they often hint at the roleÂ of the placebo effect and call for more research.
Kalker admitted that while the placebo effect may be present in some cases, heÂ has seen real results in many of his customers.
â€śIn some cases, it isâ€ť the placebo effect, Kalker said. â€śWhen you try something new, you hope. But weâ€™re finding people that are coming in three months later and still buying products, and if they stop using it, the effects go away. Thatâ€™s not placebo.â€ť
Kalker also said that inconsistent product quality is common in the CBD market due to deceptive labeling and that Cape AnnÂ uses a â€śvery seriousâ€ť vetting process to ensure the quality of its items.
â€śSome products are not what they say they should be. Every product we have in the store, we have lab results onÂ â€” it really is a buyer-beware situation,â€ť he said.
Also on staff at Cape Ann is Kalkerâ€™s brother, Kurt Kalker, a registeredÂ pediatricÂ nurse whoÂ will consult with customers and make product suggestions based on their needs and current medications.
Kurt Kalker explainedÂ that not all CBDÂ products are created equal andÂ that Cape Ann Botanicals carries a variety that often contain different essential oils and cannabinoid blends, each aimed at providing users with relief forÂ various symptoms.
â€śAnxiety is what brings in a lot of people into the store,â€ť he said. â€śI thought we were going to see mostly people with pain, but thatâ€™s not the case. Itâ€™s been anxiety, and a lot of people have gotten relief from using our products.â€ť
There are no age restrictionsÂ for buying CBD products, but Spencer Kalker said his storeÂ wonâ€™t sell to anyone under 18 without a parent being present.
Spencer highlighted his shopâ€™s goal of having a positive impact on the community and said he hopes to serve Newburyport in the same way a pharmacy would.
â€śWeâ€™re trying to enhance peopleâ€™sÂ capacity to enjoy life,â€ť he said. â€śFor us as a company, itâ€™s really about having that community support and interaction. Itâ€™s a different approach, but itâ€™s how I live.â€ť
For more information on Cape Ann Botanicals, visitÂ https://www.capeannbotanicals.com.