Mommies and daddies, faced with balancing work and teaching children at home amid a pandemic that shows no signs of going away, are finding a new stress management strategy: Gummy snacks made with CBD oil.
"It is a great tool for parents because it has a calming effect," said Rob Nusbaum, a founding partner of Michigan-based Pincanna. "Homeschooling is a very stressful job when you're a parent and not a teacher."
And this is why products with CBD, which is short for cannabidiol, are rapidly growing in popularity.
While they did not provide sales figures, companies selling CBD gummies say they've seen strong sales in 2020 as other businesses struggle.
Anxiety related to COVID-19 is a key reason people are shopping for gummy snacks, Nusbam told the Free Press. "We launched our brand of gummies just a few weeks ago and loaded the store up and we're just about out of them. Edibles in general, and gummies in particular, make up a high percentage of our sales, especially in Michigan. This is a great tool for parents."
His company store in Kalkaska, Mich., sells various products under different brands. Pincanna grows its cannabis plants in Pinconning, Mich., in a 135,000-square-foot facility, which allows for state-of-the art cultivation and processing.
The most rapidly selling gummy products have the smallest amount of THC, less than .03% of the property found in marijuana, so it's not enough to make someone euphoric but it is enough to strip away anxiety and chronic pain, Nusbaum explained. Repeat clients include patients with Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and inflammation.
Gummies with that slight amount of THC, which grows naturally in the plant, can be purchased legally now. In 2018, the federal Farm Bill legalized hemp-derived CBD with no more than 0.3% THC.
Darren McCarty, the former Stanley Cup-winning Detroit Red Wing, said people wanting to move away from Xanax and other antidepressants often ask him about CBD gummies and products he is creating to sell in collaboration with Pincanna.
"I've talked to hockey moms, soccer moms," said McCarty, 48, a vocal advocate of CBD products for health and wellness.
"People realize that hemp or CBD cannot put the high into it, there's no stoner high. This product is for your body to heal, allows it to relax. It's like somebody puts a hand on your shoulder and you're not alone," he said. "You can take gummies at night to sleep. I'm an insomniac and I sleep like a baby now."
The company is doing millions of dollars in sales a year and shows no sign of slowing.
'Frazzled and exhausted'
"A lot of parents are dealing with uncertainties. These parents are really stressed," said Jen Palmer, a naturopathic doctor and director of education for Boulder, Colo.-based Charlotte's Web, one of the most established companies in the CBD industry.
"When I meet my neighbor in the yard, she has three children and she's so frazzled and exhausted every day she doesn't know what to do. I share some of my supply of Charlotte's Web products to help her get through her day," Palmer said. "There's a calm gummy, and a lemon balm, which has herbal extract for calming and relaxing. We recommend taking gummies pretty consistently during these times when stress is constant."
She noted, "We definitely see people turning to CBDs during these times. It is a really good safe alternative to other options people may be considering. We are all under stress in this pandemic. No one is excluded."
Now Charlotte's Web sees "calm gummies" as an essential back-to-school accessory for adults navigating new challenges.
"We know parents are in a straight-up tailspin right now," the company says in a news release. "And, if parents aren't homeschooling and Zooming their lives away, they are worried about sending their kids into school."
Gummies offer parents trying to survive quarantine the option to Zen out, Charlotte's Web promises.
Not 'fried' or 'cloudy'
To some, it's just Mommy's Little Helper. Or Daddy's.
Customers and potential customers usually share their personal stories, health histories and life challenges when considering these products and often seek guidance on how to regulate dosage in determining what might work best, growers and retailers said.
One parent of young children from metro Detroit said CBD products are an essential part of his repertoire. He asked not to be named for the story because, he said, "Someone will search my name for business reasons one day and I don't want them to judge me for using CBD gummies."
The 40-something father explained, "They're much better than trying to use alcohol. With gyms being a bit of a social faux pas, who wants to drink alcohol to relax or go to the doctor for pain? CBD really helps take the edge off. Obviously, the stigma is still there with employers who link CBD with THC. CBD helps so much without your brain being fried or cloudy so you can continue to function as a parent. Parenting is a full-time job and downtime due to intoxication is best avoided."
Canadians out of luck
Kyle and Mara McCalmon of Port Huron, Mich., opened Thumb Coast CBD in mid-January and they're fighting to keep shelves supplied at their stores in several cities in Michigan.
"We have clients from Detroit and all over Michigan, as well as Florida and Mississippi and Texas and California," said Kyle McCalmon, 54, who wears a Michigan State University face mask in public.
"When the coronavirus shutdown happened, we actually gave discounts for about 2 1/2 months," he said. "We knew people were stressed out, and it really helps. It's like a calming energy, not like caffeine. When I have anxiety, I can't think straight and can't organize my thoughts. This allows me to focus."
A lot of Canadians were buying Thumb Coast gummies and other products, but that all stopped with the border shutdown, he said.
Still, demand stateside is only growing, Kyle McCalmon said. "People keep gummies in their desk, in their purse and they're easy to carry. You suck on them like a lifesaver so they dissolve in the mouth and allow the capillaries to soak up the CBD. This brings the body back into a state of balance."
He and his wife, Mara, 54, are often seen answering questions while selling at the Vantage Point Farmers Market in Port Huron on Saturday mornings. They grow their own hemp plants and make their own products, which involves actually melting gummy bears into squares with CBD added.
"We encourage people to ask questions," Kyle McCalmon said. "We want people to research and feel comfortable. Gummies aren't intimidating."
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