From the New York Times to your next-door neighbor, it seems like everyone is touting the health benefits of CBD.
For some, cannabinoid oil, which is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant, is a cure-all used to treat everything from minor aches and pains to arthritis to epilepsy. Others decry it as modern-day snake oil, a placebo increasingly backed by big corporations looking to legally cash in on the cannabis market.
Despite the unknowns, interest in CBD has reached an almost fever pitch, including in San Antonio — and one company wants to be a trailblazer inside the city.
Mary Jane's CBD Dispensary was founded in 2018, and quickly established shops in Savannah, Georgia, and Asheville, North Carolina. In July, it moved into the San Antonio market, quickly opening an outpost at 7115 Blanco Rd. #113, near North Star Mall, followed by another one at 11440 Potranco Rd., Suite 102, on the Far West Side.
"The traction has been amazing," says Garrett Olano, social media and communications manager for Mary Jane's. "San Antonio ... it’s a huge market, and somewhat untapped."
Mary Jane's offers a range of products, from popular tinctures and vape pens to pet and beauty products. Rather than source directly from a farm, the company purchases and "white labels" products from other companies, which means they brand them as their own. (Trader Joe's famously uses a similar model in its grocery stores.)
As people grow increasingly skeptical about chemical-based medication, most customers, says Olano, come in hoping to assuage various ailments using the plant-based alternatives. "Our customers are usually looking for natural remedies to drift away from pharmaceutical medications [for] arthritis, insomnia, stress, anxiety," he says.
Scientific studies are increasingly centered around CBD. A 2017 study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found it to be a safe and effective treatment for epilepsy. In June 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made history after it approved Epidiolex, an anti-seizure medication and the first-ever drug derived from the marijuana plant to be approved by the FDA.
Epilepsy aside, and despite its near-constant media coverage, research on CBD is still relatively inconclusive. And though anecdotal evidence suggests cannabinoids may be effective treatments, they still battle the stigma of being tied to the marijuana plant.
"It’s a pro and a con," says Olano. "CBD is so much in the news you're getting this general education, but there is also this confusion that comes along with it." He adds that it doesn't help that, "every day [it seems] there is a new FDA change or regulation."
In order to help educate customers, the Mary Jane's team, led by CEO Mason Habib, says it tries to specifically recruit employees from inside the cannabis industry.
"If people have a cannabis background or are coming out of the industry, they really have a good understanding of the product," Olano explains. Coupled with training, this helps employees better communicate how CBD can treat common issues, such as inflammation or stress.
Of course, for Mary Jane's, this is also a business — a business that will add a third San Antonio-area location at 11836 Bandera Rd. in the next few weeks. After that, Olano says the company will focus on expanding into Austin, Houston, and Dallas.