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Medical marijuana in Greenwood? Not exactly

In August, Joseph Martin, a disabled veteran, visited a friend of his in Jacksonville, Florida. Martin complained about the arthritis in his knees, and his friend, the owner of Your CBD Store in Jacksonville Beach, suggested he try a cream containing cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound derived from the marijuana plant.

“In less than 10 minutes, my knee pain was gone,” Martin said.

Martin is now less than two weeks from opening his own franchise of Your CBD Store on Montague Avenue. It will join 10 other stores in South Carolina and 72 nationwide.

Your CBD stores sell gummies, tinctures, oils, bath bombs and even dog treats. The number of ailments those items will treat, according to the company’s website, is longer: nausea, cancer, seizures, anxiety, diabetes, psychosis and, of course, pain.

In 2015, Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, gave a presentation titled “the biology and potential therapeutic effects of Cannabidiol” before the U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.

When tested on animal models, CBD, she said, showed promise in fighting pain, seizures, inflammation, psychotic episodes, anxiety, tumors and neurodegenerative diseases.

There was a caveat, however.

Despite such preliminary promise, “we need to be careful to not get ahead of the evidence,” Volkow said. “95 percent of drugs that move from promising preclinical findings to clinical research do not make it to market.”

Martin credits CBD with treating not only his pain but his insomnia, anxiety, hypertension and diabetes, saying his blood pressure and sugar have dropped since he began taking it over two months ago. His sister, Valerie Martin, who works at Self Regional Medical Center, takes it for pain as well, as does Donald Evans, a construction worker who was working Tuesday in Martin’s store.

Martin didn’t immediately decide to open a store of his own after trying CBD in Jacksonville. “I thought it might have been a trick or something.”

When he was convinced otherwise, he submitted an application to the parent company. Because the nearest Your CBD stores, in Newberry and Greenville, are more than 45 minutes away, location was not an issue. His only competition in Greenwood is Natures Remedies, also on Montague Avenue.

Martin said that all of the money put into the store is his own, and that the parent company’s help is limited to “guidance.”

“Everything’s got to match each store,” Martin said. “They want it to be nice and friendly, they don’t want it to be like a vape shop.”

Jessia Warner, a friend of Martin’s, opened a Your CBD Store with her husband in Palm Coast, Florida, at the end of September. She said that the community has been happy to see a brick and mortar store with employees who can recommend how and when to use a substance they may have never heard about.

Warner said that she and her husband decided to open a store after Will Nelson – the person who had suggested that Martin try CBD for his arthritis — told her husband to take some for symptoms from radiation treatments he was receiving for a cancerous tumor.

Warner said they opened three weeks after a medical marijuana dispensary. She isn’t worried about the competition, however, as marijuana has very little CBD relative to THC, its psychoactive compound.

South Carolina has given 40 people permission to grow “industrial hemp,” which the legislature defines as the marijuana plant with a THC content “of not more than 0.3 percent on a dried weight basis.” However, they can only grow hemp with a permit and for research purposes.

Martin said that he doesn’t want any of the items in his store to have any THC whatsoever.

“When people find out it’s THC, it brings the wrong crowd in,” he said.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, South Carolina is one of a handful of states that have made CBD legal by statute, but only for those suffering from a “form of refractory epilepsy that is not adequately treated by traditional medical therapies.”

Brian King, communications director for the 8th Circuit Court Solicitor’s Office, acknowledged the legal gray area and said that it would not be appropriate to weigh in on a policy issue.

The industrial hemp from which they extract the CBD comes from Colorado, Martin said. But he hopes that the state’s industrial hemp program, which now has one grower from Greenwood, will allow him to source locally one day.

*The statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products are not intended for the cure, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man or animal.