This market growth has accompanied a shift in public perception for the hemp-derived product, but Charles Ojevwe, the owner of Nature Green Leaf CBD in Pearland, said there is still a lack of education about it.
“People have a lot of stigma and misunderstanding about what CBD is and what it does,” Ojevwe said. “For everything there is pushback, but it is my goal to educate people about the benefits of CBD.”
In December 2018, the federal government passed the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018. This legislation significantly changed the way CBD was treated on a federal level. The act clarified that hemp, now defined as cannabis with a THC concentration of less than 0.3%, would no longer be considered a federal controlled substance.
On a local level, CBD stores function like any normal commercial retail business. Allison Whitton, a communications specialist for the city of Pearland, said there are no special requirements for those looking to open CBD stores when it comes to getting a commercial permit.
“I didn’t have any issues at all,” said Robert Ramirez, the owner of CBD American Shaman in Pearland. “We went to the city, told them exactly what we were going to do and what we were going to sell, and it was a smooth process.”
Located at 2520 E. Broadway St., CBD American Shaman was the first CBD store to open in Pearland. It opened in March, before Texas had decriminalized hemp on a state level but after the nationwide legalization.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1325 into law in June and legalized the sale, production and distribution of CBD products. The bill, which amended the Agriculture Code to allow the regulation of hemp products, also established the need for a hemp growers license in anticipation of the development of a hemp growing industry.
In October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its rules for the establishment of a domestic hemp production program. Texas is expecting the hemp growing permit applications to open in 2020.
OPEN FOR BUSINESS
Pearland is home to at least five CBD stores. That number will likely rise as hemp production establishes itself in Texas, sources said.
Robbye Ramirez, a salesperson and office manager for CBD American Shaman, said she strongly believes in the mission of the company.
“I started using American Shaman products one year ago this month,” Robbye Ramirez said. “I’ve had debilitating fibromyalgia for 25 years, but my brother-in-law saw an ad for CBD American Shaman, and we decided to give it a shot.”
Robbye Ramirez said in mere days she was feeling better than she had in years.
“I told my husband, I didn’t know how long it was going to last, but I felt like the CBD products had turned the clock back decades,” Ramirez said.
Robbye Ramirez’s brother-in-law, Robert Ramirez, is the owner of CBD American Shaman in Pearland. Robbye said that Robert saw how the CBD products helped her and decided to open his own location as a way to help people who may be suffering. Ramirez said the most important part of her job is educating people about the benefits of CBD and how to find what works for them in a saturated market.
This desire to help is shared by Ojevwe, he said. His business, located at 12568 Broadway St., Ste. 120, opened in November.
Ojevwe, who is a clinical pharmacist by trade, said he was inspired to open Nature Green Leaf CBD after attending a five-week course held by the Houston Academy of Cannabis Science earlier this year. As a new resident of Pearland, he decided the city would be the right place to start.
“I think there is a lot of stigma, with people thinking it’s the same as marijuana, misconceptions of what CBD does, people thinking that it gets you high,” Ojevwe said. “My main passion is to give people the information to make an informed decision.”
Ojevwe said he has taken notice of the influx of CBD businesses in Pearland but does not want to become bogged down by the competitive market. He said even the Vitamin Shoppe in Pearland sells CBD products, so he would focus on bringing education to the forefront of his business to give his business a competitive edge.
Robert Ramirez also said he does not think the saturated market is a bad thing.
“I feel very comfortable because I really believe in the product we have here and what CBD American Shaman stands for,” Robert Ramirez said. “The way I see it, the more competition, the better.”
Informing the public about CBD is a large part of both CBD American Shaman’s and Nature Green Leaf CBD’s missions. Demystifying how CBD works will bring the hemp industry further into the mainstream, owners of the businesses said.
Pearland City Council Member Luke Orlando said he agrees there is some confusion surrounding the new CBD stores, but his frustration stems from the external presentation of the new businesses.
“I have no problem with people legally using CBD products, but the people of Pearland deserve better than a shop with a marijuana leaf on every corner,” Orlando said.
He said that from what he has heard from the residents of Pearland, they are proud and protective of keeping Pearland a desirable community that can compete as a place to live for people moving into the area. People want their children to want to live in Pearland and feel like it is a place to raise families, Orlando said.
“Of course, these are all legitimate wellness businesses, but my main concern is that they tend to feature imagery in their signage with cannabis leaves and other things that don’t project the family-friendly image that we have in Pearland,” Orlando said. “We have D.A.R.E. events at school telling kids not to smoke pot, and then they have these marijuana leaves, and it could be confusing.”
Robbye Ramirez said the reception CBD American Shaman has received has been overwhelmingly positive, with the occasional exception of a few patrons who she said think that because they have tried one CBD product, they have tried them all.
“Not all CBD is created equal,” Robbye Ramirez said. “We want to inform and reach people; that’s why we’re here doing this."