NEWBURYPORT — Officials in the city’s Health Department decided on Thursday to prohibit a Pleasant Street cannabidiol business from selling its edible and vaporizer products.
Cape Ann Botanicals, owned by Ipswich resident Spencer Kalker, opened earlier this year at 49 Pleasant St., becoming the city’s first shop specializing in selling products containing cannabidiol – or CBD — a hemp-derived compound. CBD doesn’t contain THC, the intoxicating ingredient found in marijuana, but is said to offer a variety of medicinal benefits, including treatment for pain, inflammation and anxiety.
Frank Giacalone, the city’s director of public health, said the Health Department ruled Thursday night that the shop has until January 15, 2020, to deplete its stock of edible CBD products, which include honey sticks, gummy candies and chocolates, because in June the state Department of Agricultural Resources effectively outlawed the sale of food products containing CBD.
In addition, the shop was ordered to immediately stop selling its vaporizers and CBD oil cartridges. Giacalone explained that the city has issued its maximum number of permits for tobacco products, which under Newburyport laws, include all smoking or vaping products regardless of whether they include nicotine.
Between the decisions by the local and state departments, Cape Ann Botanicals is being prevented from selling a number of its products, but can still sell CBD-infused oil tinctures, balms and lotions.
Kalker said he is disappointed with the government rulings, and said the shop will have to deal with some significant losses in business until the laws eventually change.
“We’re not going out of business — we think this will be squared away by January,” said Kalker, noting that bills are in the works that would allow hemp-derived CBD products to be made and sold in Massachusetts
In the meantime, Kalker said he plans to send customers in need of vaping products to his shop’s Ipswich location, where town laws do not consider CBD vape products to be tobacco products.
Carla Villa, the Newburyport shop’s manager, said she feels the regulations are putting an “unnecessary burden” on customers who use the products as relief from medical conditions.
“The reality is that nobody is using (CBD) like tobacco products. No one is going to smoke a Juul pod to take down their shakes for Parkinson’s,” said Villa, adding that CBD edibles and vapes can still be bought easily and legally from online retailers.
“Nothing is keeping these products from being available to the public because you can go online and purchase them,” she said.
Noting that many convenience stores in Massachusetts are still selling CBD products without consequence, Kalker said he feels Cape Ann Botanicals is being unfairly treated.
“There’s dozens of stores within five miles of here that are selling products. The only reason we’re seen is because we’re selling a professional service,” said Kalker. “We feel like, in a sense, we’re being targeted.”
Staff writer Jack Shea covers Newburyport City Hall. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.