CHEYENNE – Rachael Barbre is the latest to join the booming market for cannabidiol products in Cheyenne.
Barbre opened Terra of Wyoming at 3703 E. Lincolnway on Aug. 22, and hopes to help educate Cheyenne residents about the products, commonly known as CBD, which have been touted for everything from chronic pain to epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.
“I just saw the need,” Barbre said. “There are so many people that can benefit from these products in one way or another.”
Barbre has lived in Cheyenne since she was 14 and has worked in the medical field since 2000, starting as a certified nursing assistant before becoming a licensed practical nurse in 2003. She said she started her new business venture by looking for a reputable supplier with a reasonable price, selecting Colorado Springs, Colorado-based Discover CBD, which markets products under the Active brand.
The company manufactures products from hemp it grows in Colorado, with laboratory testing to ensure quality at every step in the process, Barbre said. The products include QR codes linking to third-party laboratory certificates.
“You just pull up your batch code based on that, and you know exactly the percentage of every single cannabinoid that you’re getting,” Barbre said.
Helping customers understand the ingredients in the products they are buying is one of Barbre’s goals. She said many products offered at other stores, including large chain retailers and grocery stores, are made from hemp seeds, which do not offer the same benefits as full-spectrum CBD oil.
“There are a lot of places in town that are selling products that, to me, are mislabeled,” she said, noting that retailers offering CBD products are “popping up like daisies.” She called the lack of regulations in the industry a “horrible thing” that is hindering consumers.
A wall of brochures assembled in Terra of Wyoming offers information on a wide variety of topics related to CBD, with citations for further information.
“My first and foremost thing is education,” Barbre said. “I want people to make the best decision for themselves.”
She also encourages customers to talk to their doctors before using CBD products, which could potentially interact with medications they are taking. She has sent many customers away with stacks of pamphlets and directions to make an appointment with their doctor before buying a product.
Paving the way
Interest in CBD products has risen since the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp, which includes no more than 0.3% of the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), from the Controlled Substances Act. Gov. Mark Gordon signed House Bill 171 in March, providing for hemp production and processing in the state.
Since then, the Wyoming Department of Agriculture has submitted its plan for regulating the industry and awaits action from the U.S. Department of Agriculture before it will begin issuing licenses for hemp production and processing in the state, said Derek Grant, public information officer for the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.
HB 171 also triggered termination of the hemp extract registry, previously administered by the Department of Health.
“The Wyoming Department of Health does not have a specific, official position regarding the use or sale of CBD products at this time,” the department said in an email.
While sales of CBD products free from THC generally don’t concern law enforcement officials, the lag in regulations leaves consumers with little guidance regarding whether products are safe or effective.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved CBD products and is working to determine the effects and safety of CBD, including the possibility of liver injury. Meanwhile, the agency has warned of unproven or false medical claims, products not containing claimed levels of CBD, and products potentially including contaminants, according to its website.
The lingering questions have created obstacles for CBD retailers. Customers at Terra of Wyoming can’t pay with credit cards because payment processors won’t accept transactions for cannabis products, Barbre said. Advertising is another concern, with some media platforms blocking advertising of CBD products, according to Forbes.com.
Barbre said she left “CBD” out of the name of her business in part because of the stigma and not wanting her customers to feel self-conscious walking into the store.
It’s hard to know how many retailers in Cheyenne offer CBD products, either as standalone stores or products within broader stores. While data available from the Wyoming Department of Revenue and Division of Economic Analysis don’t break out CBD sales, growth of the market can be seen in the community.
Rachelle and Dave Tabor of Greeley, Colorado, drew attention in January with bright-colored banners announcing their new store, Natural Wellness CBD.
The Tabors, who make their own products in Greeley, plan to open another store in Laramie this year, Rachelle Tabor said.
Not all retailers offering CBD products have been as noticeable.
Searching the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce business directory for “CBD” turned up one result: CBD WYO at 1608 E. Lincolnway, which claims to be Cheyenne’s first official CBD distributor.
Owner Ryan Thomas Warner said he started selling CBD products out of his Authorized Vacuum store in October 2018 after suffering an eye injury in a fireworks accident and getting relief from a CBD product.
Warner has since expanded his CBD offerings – he sells products from Denver-based Ahava Care – and revamped his store.
“There are just a lot of imposters out there,” he said.
Warner, who has lived in Cheyenne most of his life, said Ahava Care products are formulated by a pharmacist.
“If I can bring people who are in pain some relief, I would love to help them with that,” he said. “I’m not a doctor. I’m not making medical claims. But this is my community, and that’s really all I care about.”
A Google search for CBD products in Cheyenne revealed a listing for LifePatent, with a Cheyenne address. Calls to the phone number listed are routed to Keith Butler, president of LifePatent, who lives in Culpeper, Virginia.
“I don’t actually have a store in Cheyenne,” Butler said. “We have a corporate address in Cheyenne. … I get about five calls a day from people trying to go to my store in Cheyenne, and I’ve got nobody up there who’s carrying our products yet.”
Butler said he’s been a hemp advocate for decades.
“I began in the legalization movement in 1979,” he said. “So this thing, for me, has been a lifetime career.”
He said the biggest risk of CBD products is getting something ineffective.
“There’s not much danger,” he said. “It’s really about effectiveness. Most of the products out there are placebos – at least half, in my opinion. They work, but they don’t work nearly as well as they could.”
Butler said much of the research touted by companies doesn’t measure up to scientific standards. Even websites that rate products may be owned by companies selling the products.
“It really is the Wild West,” he said.