SYRACUSE, NY — It seems CBD is everywhere these days — at retail stores and coffee shops, and in ointments, oils, tinctures, salves, gummie candy, cupcakes, lattes and more. Even pet treats.
So you’d expect to find the cannabis derivative touted for its health benefits at Central New York’s biggest product emporium, the New York State Fair.
It’s there, but probably not in the volume you’d expect. Just a handful of booths offer CBD, and two of those specialize in pet products.
Plus, under current New York state rules, no CBD-infused foods or beverages meant for human consumption can be sold at the State Fair. The state Department of Agriculture & Markets, which oversees the fair, is still working to clarify the overall legality of such edible CBD products outside the Fair. It does appear the department has started notifying businesses not to sell some CBD-infused edible products.
“We have everything here at the Fair except what you can eat or drink,” said Yardley D. Burgess Jr., operator of one of the Syracuse area’s Empire CBD shops. His stand at the 2019 State Fair is along State Fair Boulevard, across from the back of the Toyota Coliseum.
A sign Burgess brought to the fairgrounds lists several of the products — but has a black taped “X” across the section for edible Gummies. “For now, those (edible) products are still available at our stores,” he said. “Maybe not for much longer.”
Cannabidiol is a naturally-occurring compound, extracted from the flowers and buds of the two forms of cannabis plant — marijuana and hemp. It does not contain significant amounts of THC, the psychoactive substance that creates marijuana’s “high.”
CBD is touted for its therapeutic properties, such as relieving inflammation, pain and anxiety. Some of its health claims — such as preventing seizures — have more scientific evidence behind them than others (like inhibiting cancer.)
CBD’s availability exploded in the past year or so, accelerated by the 2018 federal farm bill, which legalized the farming of hemp (but not marijuana). New York is now licensing dozens of hemp growers across the state. The law also eases restrictions on the use of CBD products containing less than .3% of THC.
CBD at the State Fair
Regardless of its legality, CBD vendors at the Fair have been drawing crowds.
At Empire CBD’s three regular retail shops, in Syracuse, Camillus and Cicero, those who venture in have often already heard a little about CBD, Burgess said. At the Fair, he said, people passing by are sometimes mystified by the products, which include balms, slaves, tinctures, lotions and patches.
Two questions have been most popular: Does it work? And: Will it get me high?
“The first answer is ‘yes,’ ” Burgess said. “The second is ’no.’ ”
Similar questions are common at a second CBD booth, belonging to IthaCannabis. It’s located in the Center of Progress Building.
On one of the Fair’s senior days, long lines of gray-haired folks, some using canes or scooters, stopped by to make inquiries.
“Most want to know if it will help their arthritis,” said Ken Ellis, who was staffing the Ithaca company’s booth. “We tell them, yes — yes it does.”
This is IthaCannabis’ second year at the Fair. It offers oils, tinctures and more — and was able to offer samples of an oral tincture to curious customers. It also has no edible or drinkable products at the Fair.
Nearby in the Center of Progress, a company called Whisker Biscuits had a big sign at its booth proclaiming “CBD Available Here.”
The booth operated by a company from Stroudsburg, Pa. specializes in pet treats. The CBD tincture found there is for pets. It looks like the human tincture, but has a small dog on the label.
“Anything CBD can do for people — anxiety, inflammation — it can do for your pets,” said Dan Maioriello, the representative at the booth.
A second booth in the Center of Progress also offers CBD for pets. That booth is called Love 2 Pet.
In the Horticulture Building, a booth called Young Living Essential Oils, based in Utah, has a small amount of CBD oils mixed among its other products.
With the crowds of people looking for new things, the State Fair makes a good venue to expose more people to the effects of CBD, said Burgess of Empire CBD.
“A lot of people have questions, or concerns or maybe some concerns,” he said. “This gives us an opportunity to take the time and explain the benefits of CBD.”
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Don Cazentre writes for NYup.com, syracuse.com and The Post-Standard. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him atNYup.com, on Twitter or Facebook.