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Getting the obvious question out of the way: No, the Cannabis Curious event this weekend at the R.S. Taylor & Sons taproom in Saratoga Springs is not about getting drunk and high at the same time.
First of all, it’s a bar that serves good beer made by its parent brewery in Salem, and overconsumption is frowned upon, as it’s bad for your health and, potentially, your life and the lives of others if you get behind the wheel. So drink in moderation, OK?
Secondly, CBD, the focus of the event, can’t get you high. It’s not that kind of cannabis byproduct.
CBD — short for the considerably more difficult to pronounce cannabidiol (can-ih-bih-DI-ol) — is derived from the hemp plant, a cousin of marijuana; both are variants of the cannabis plant. But hemp, by law, has a much lower concentration than pot plants of THC, the psycho-active component of marijuana that produces its signature high.
And so hemp, in addition to its industrial uses for paper, construction materials, biofuel and clothing, among others, is also a source of CBD oil, which when ingested or applied to the skin is said to ease a variety of ailments and promote a general sense of well-being. It is now showing up in tinctures, balms, gummy chews, pet supplements and coffee, wine and beer. Even the Carl’s Jr. restaurant chain got into the act earlier this year, test-marketing a burger with CBD-infused sauce.
Enter the Taylor brewery, which has a sibling business called LandCraft Wellness, launched over the summer, that grows hemp and makes CBD products. The owners organized Saturday’s event at their Saratoga taproom to introduce people to the world of CBD. There will be hemp farmers and CBD experts on hand to discuss the subject, products to sample and purchase (all legal) and CBD-infused cocktails. One will be a boilermaker, but with CBD tincture, not whiskey, added to beer.
“As a farm brewery and a licensed hemp farmer, we were uniquely situated to offer that,” says Kelley Taylor, who owns the brewery and LandCraft Wellness with her husband, Richard.
Spotting a trend as CBD began to grow from niche curiosity to wide embrace — a New York Times headline in May called it “wildly popular” — the Taylors branched out from beer to hemp. They were following the lead of some of their farmer neighbors in Washington County and nearby parts of Vermont, who swore by its value as a cash crop and a health supplement.
The Taylors’ enthusiasm stems from direct experience. As owners of farms and small businesses, Taylor says, “We have a lot of worries and cares, and the CBD helped us both sleep better immediately. Right away we were enamored with how well it was working.” She says her husband finds relief from farmwork-related bodily aches and pains, and their 13-year-old Yorkshire terrier, Chester, showed improvement to his age-related orthopedic and digestive maladies after being given LandCraft Wellness’ pet-formula CBD oil.
“It was clear there was a lot less swelling and pain,” she says. “He was just getting around better.”
Evidence continues to mount in support of CBD’s health benefits, though manufacturers of products containing it, including the Taylors, avoid claiming it can treat or cure specific medical conditions. The federal Food and Drug Administration classifies it largely as a supplement, meaning almost all products that contain CBD are not regulated or subject to safety and purity testing; to date, only one CBD-based drug has been approved, to treat rare childhood forms of epilepsy.
But anecdotal testimonials abound in this country for the salubrious effect of CBD. In Europe, one study found reduction in arthritic pain and inflammation after topical application of CBD-based products and another shows CBD helps with chronic neuropathic pain. Writing in a Harvard Medical School newsletter last year, faculty member and medical doctor Peter Grinspoon wrote, “We need more research, but CBD may be prove to be an option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain.”
Kaelan Castetter, a CBD and hemp-products expert who will be at Saturday’s Cannabis Curious event, says, “We definitely need more research, but what’s coming online now is proving what the massive amount of anecdotal evidence has been telling us for years.”
Castetter is CEO of Binghamton-based Castetter Sustainability Group, which consults with growers, producers and governments on hemp-related laws and regulations, conducts genetic research on hemp strains and partners with farms to turn fresh hemp into CBD oil and related derivatives. The company also advises on marketing the finished products, and another business owned by Castetter and his father makes Sovereign Vines, a line of wines infused with hemp (but, for legal reasons, no CBD yet), which it says results in wine that is “earthy, fresh” and lacking in the acidic bite found in many wines.
Castetter has been working with LandCraft on its hemp and CBD product lines. He says the company’s research and processes currently in place will make it compliant with upcoming state mandates set to take effect after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s expected signature on a bill passed earlier this year by the state Legislature that more formally regulates the production and sale of hemp extracts, including CBD.
The Taylors are already convinced that CBD will be a bigger part of their future, both as professional opportunity and personal regimen. They would like to make a beer with CBD, which should be permissible under the forthcoming law, and LandCraft is developing products incorporating its CBD with a local chocolate maker and a honey producer.
“We’re being approached by people all the time for collaborations,” says Taylor. “There are possibilities for baked goods, salad dressing — so many things,” says Taylor. “As more people learn about it, the demand is only going to grow.”
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If you go
Cannabis Curious CBD Event
What: A social and interactive event exploring the local CBD scene. Talk with local hemp farmers and CBD experts, sample CBD oil, buy CBD smokable bud and taste CBD-infused cocktails.
When: 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: R.S. Taylor & Sons Tap Room, 26A Congress St. (Congress Plaza), Saratoga Springs
Admission: Free and open to the public, age 21 and older only
CBD trendy — and pricey
If after reading the accompanying story you thought, “I’d like to try this CBD stuff,” be warned: It seems expensive, at least to the uninitiated.
A 1-ounce bottle of 1,200-milligram CBD hemp extract — the middle strength produced by the company — costs $99.99. After explaining about the high cost of development, growing, processing and independent lab analyses that attest to the quality of each batch, a section on LandCraft Wellness’ website says the following, about the recommended sublingual ingestion:
“A 20mg/day moderate dose … will last the average person about 2 months. It works out to less than $2 per day to enjoy all of the benefits of a high quality full-spectrum hemp extract in your life. Is your health and well-being worth $2 a day? We think it is.”
— Steve Barnes