I can’t believe it: There is a hemp store in my hometown, Fayetteville, North Carolina!

The Hemp Farmacy opened on Aug. 10, 2018, and you better believe I was there to welcome it to town.

When I was a teenager and learned of a place in the world where cannabis use was tolerated – Amsterdam, Netherlands – I was shocked.

As is the case today, international drug treaties dating back to the early 1960s, overseen by the United Nations’ Office of Drugs and Crime, make cannabis illegal worldwide, putting every “legal” state and country at odds with that regulatory body.

When I was a teen, dreaming about visiting Amsterdam, I never thought I would see any kind of hemp or cannabis store in North Carolina, in part because of international prohibition. But even that may be changing.

In December 2017, following a World Health Organization (WHO) convention where a medical cannabis expert made a presentation on the non-psychoactive form of cannabis, the WHO “made the expert recommendation not to schedule cannabidiol (CBD) as a drug,” according to a press release from Medical Marijuana, Inc. – the first publicly traded cannabis company in the United States.

Now, the U.N. is conducting its first-ever full review of marijuana’s legal status under international law.

CBD, from “shitweed” to life saver

The pivotal moment seems to be when the world learned about the struggles of a girl named Charlotte Figi who was having hundreds of uncontrollable seizures each week with no help or relief in sight.

Charlotte has Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. She experienced her first seizure when she was only three months old. At the height of her suffering, she was experiencing multiple seizures each day, and some that lasted as long as four hours.

The pharmaceutical drugs her doctors prescribed not only weren’t helping the child, according to Charlotte’s mother, they were causing her child to stop breathing.

Fortunately, the seven Stanley Brothers, founders of Charlotte’s Web, a California-based cannabis company, thought they may be able to help.

[See the embedded mini-documentary, an edited version of Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s “Weed” documentary produced by CNN.]

[Video (below): CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta on why he’s changed his mind about cannabis and why cannabis media matters.]
The Stanleys were growing a strain of cannabis that is high in CBD but low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound in cannabis that leads to the “high” feeling, or the psychoactive effects recreational users enjoy.

Critics reportedly asked the brothers why they would bother; who would want cannabis that didn’t get you high?

The brothers, knowing high-CBD cannabis was useful, began making CBD oil for Charlotte. It helped ease her symptoms immediately. Today, she is 11 years old and reportedly on a regular CBD regimen.

Now people with all sorts of health problems are using CBD oil to treat their conditions.

We’ve come a long way

I never thought I would become an activist, but I am an activist for cannabis because I’ve witnessed how it helps people; it helps me.

Because I am a well-networked activist in the Carolinas I can tell you with confidence that it is because we’ve banned together and demanded access that The Hemp Farmacy was able to open in my hometown.

The store in my town is veteran-owned, and it’s clear that the owners are part of the greater community not just here to make a buck.

In my world, I am surrounded by active military and veterans, so when I learned that The Hemp Farmacy location was veteran-owned I was even more pleased.

Veterans stand to benefit from the end of prohibition in myriad ways.

As Kevin Murphy wrote in his article, “It’s time for Washington to help veterans access cannabis,” published in Forbes magazine:

America’s veterans have given their all to protect this country — putting their bodies on the line regardless of the cost. Too many are now dealing with the side effects of their service, problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain. But increasingly, they are struggling to gain access to medication that could help them effectively cope with those side effects.

I am so glad I’ve lived long enough to see my home state come this far.

“Education before legalization”

The Hemp Farmacy in Fayetteville is owned by Tiffany and Ray Toler. They credit family and friends for helping them to realize their dream.

The store itself, located at 123 Person St., is small, but welcoming. The staff is knowledgeable and able to answer any questions you may have, and their prices are reasonable compared to their competitors.

Knowing that medical cannabis and recreational cannabis may also be on the way to North Carolina I asked the Tolers if they’re ready to become a medical dispensary once prohibition ends in our state.

[Read: S.C. to legalize medical cannabis in 2019?]

The Tolers told me they are ready to expand once laws allow, however, they want to be clear that they adhere to the motto “education before legalization.”

Both owners said they aim to educate the public about all aspects of industrial hemp and CBD oil.

What can you find at The Hemp Farmacy?

The Hemp Farmacy’s house brand of CBD oil is called Carolina Hope. They also carry multiple lab-tested hemp oils along with tinctures and massage oils.

You will also find CBD edibles like gummies and CBD chocolate. They even have coloring books for the kids.

The price range begins around $12 and goes up depending on what you’re looking for.

Soon, The Hemp Farmacy in Fayetteville will also host educational seminars with Dr. James Taylor, owner of Integrated Pain Solutions.

Taylor recently spoke at the Carolina Hemp Festival, in Raleigh, and encouraged the audience to first educate themselves, then their doctors, on the benefits of CBD.

Prohibition is at its end

North Carolina may not have complete regulatory certainty when it comes to cannabis law, and we definitely shouldn’t think of ourselves as a “legal state” even though we have an industrial hemp pilot program and can purchase CBD products.

We have a long way to go.

Still, it’s thrilling to watch my neighbors in Fayetteville take a chance on something that may help our veterans live better, healthier lives. And our children and others who are ill, who, like Charlotte Figi, have suffered needlessly due to antiquated prohibition laws.

With that, I want to take a moment to offer my sincere thanks so all of you who have made it possible to purchase CBD in my home town.

Mike Weston

Mike Weston

Contributor

Mike Weston* is a North Carolina-based freelance writer and cannabis activist focused on the cannabis industry in his home state.

*Not his real name. He will reveal his identity when cannabis prohibition ends in North Carolina.

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