Come Back Daily opened its doors in downtown New York this month as the “world’s first educational CBD hub.” The store sells a range of products derived from CBD.
Steven Phan, founder of Come Back Daily and a first-generation Asian American originally from San Francisco, explained his vision behind the business: “People would ask me what I miss about home when I moved to New York in 2009,” he said. “The difference was back there I went into a store to buy my cannabis, I could ask questions, and they would tailor their service to my needs.”
Phan worked previously in the CBD business with Natural Xtract. “I got to see every angle of the customer interaction, but never in person,” he said. “You can livechat with someone brand new to CBD and explain everything to them, but they could never come see the product in person. So I saw a disconnect there.”
Visitors are invited to actually try the CBD-infused pills, chocolates, kombucha drinks, and more within the store at their "discovery bar," or to relax in a separate lounge area that also offers meditation, yoga, and massage services. “We want people to touch the products and discover on their own what stands out to them,” Phan said. “We’re really trying to curate an inventory that will speak to people and be clear about why products are priced differently.”
Unfortunately, CBD enthusiasts in New York are not always getting the right information about what they’re consuming. “The biggest problem in New York is misinformation,” said Sydney J. Tiedt, co-founder of New York-based CBD brand Apricity Collective. “Many consumers and business-owners are confused by what CBD is and how to consume it. This market is hard to navigate because there’s not much regulation in place now.”
“For example, a lot of coffee shops and bars are infusing their beverages with CBD oils,” she continued. “But this doesn’t work well because CBD oil has to be held under the tongue for 30 to 60 seconds to be absorbed sublingually. When you just drop the oil into a beverage, it doesn’t absorb into the body the same way.” Apricity Collective specializes in water-soluble CBD, which can be easily added to any drink and consumed orally.
Andres Moreira, president and co-founder of New York-based CBD brand Lock & Key Remedies, shared similar sentiments with Tiedt. “Anything that helps people experience and better understand CBD is really good,” he said. “CBD may or may not work like a Tylenol that makes your headache go away. It’s being marketed as a wonder drug with so many benefits, but we’re still learning how it works in the body.”
In the absence of a fully legal cannabis market, CBD is sourced from industrial hemp, which by law must contain less than 0.3 percent THC. CBD may be sold as an "isolate," which is the most purified form of the compound at about 99 percent purity, or in "full-spectrum" form, which includes other cannabinoids and terpenes also found in cannabis.
Tiedt urged consumers to understand the difference between these two, as CBD by itself may not be the only useful compound for a certain illness. CBD works together with other compounds in cannabis, a phenomenon called the "entourage" or "ensemble effect".
“CBD isolate is cheaper and generally cleaner,” Moreira explained. “But the problem is you may need a lot more to do the same job that a full-spectrum will do with less. The isolate also plateaus at a certain point in its effectiveness treating conditions, while full-spectrum generally does not." Even so, isolate may even be better for you in some cases, he added, since it can help you see exactly what CBD in particular does to your own biochemistry. "The content of a full-spectrum may change batch to batch and between different plants," he said. "For some people that won’t matter. But for people with specific illnesses, it is relevant.”
CBD brands also fail to properly label their products, Tiedt said. “We offer a sticker with the external lab analysis to be placed on infused beverages. It shows the cannabinoid and terpene profiles and pesticide analysis, that shows the product is organic and free of pesticides or heavy metals. You have to make sure the product you’re buying is what it says it is.”
Moreira added that sometimes the problem is mere lack of access to information — companies may keep test results private and not share this information with consumers. He noted there are no specific regulations for CBD, which the FDA considers "authorized for investigation as a new drug."
“When there’s not much regulation, it’s easy to get into this space,” Tiedt said, “which is why there’s so many brands jumping into the market not knowing the in’s and out’s of using CBD and the plant. If you’re someone interested in trying CBD, do some research first. But go out and try it, it’s not something to be afraid of.”
Regulatory and marketing issues aside, CBD is going nowhere in New York. Come Back Daily’s opening hosted a diverse and enthusiastic crowd of New Yorkers eager to explore new ways of using this strange compound and undaunted by a sudden, six-inch-deep snowstorm.
And with political momentum in New York moving inexorably towards cannabis legalization, it is likely consumers will only find more ways to ingest and benefit from CBD. “The fact that CBD integrates with our endocannabinoid system just can’t be dismissed,” Phan said. “This isn’t one of those superberries that’ll make you skinny.”
He acknowledged that the CBD and cannabis industries have much work to do with building better relationships with consumers. “Just speaking as an Asian American, all of my family back in California is still 150 percent against this. And I pushed the subject hard around the time my grandmother died of cancer, but it’s very hard for them to open their minds to it," he said.
“I think it’d be great for Asian Americans to continue fighting for a spot in the industry so we can show the other side of cannabis. And as an industry we have to work as a whole to change what cannabis is. I want many people coming in our store for the first time asking, ‘What is CBD?’ and I’m gonna give them my spiel over and over again. This is a pivot to reach everyone.”