Carrie Rengers

New CBD stores to open even as state targets products

The CBD American Shaman chain is expanding in the Wichita area at what is proving to be a tricky time for businesses that sell products with cannabidiol oil, also is known as CBD.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt issued an opinion last week saying that he thinks it is unlawful to have or sell products that contain any CBD. That came in response to a request from district attorneys in Johnson and Shawnee counties.

This week, House Bill 2566 was introduced to establish the same penalty for possessing CBD as possessing marijuana.

“It’s kind of an interesting time, I have to say, to be considering opening a CBD business,” says Mary Ware, who is doing just that.

“I’m going on faith,” she says. “I really believe … that people need this.”

Ware is working for Trevor Burdett, who owns the American Shaman at 4004 W. Central along with one in Lawrence. He is partners in stores in Emporia and Overland Park.

By early March, Burdett and Ware will open Shaman Botanicals in Tallgrass Centre on the southwest corner of 21st and Rock Road. Burdett and another partner are opening another American Shaman at 200 N. Baltimore in Derby in three or four weeks.

Earl Smith owns Wichita’s CBD American Shaman at 327 N. Hillside, which opened Dec. 19, and is opening another one in Hutchinson in a few weeks. He has a couple of others in the works that he doesn’t want to discuss yet.

American Shaman is based in Kansas City, Mo. There are about 50 franchised stores, Burdett says, and there should be about 300 nationally by June.

“They’re popping up all over the place,” Ware says. “This industry isn’t just booming, it’s exploding.”

She says the chain sells four categories of CBD products.

There’s the type that is mixed into a fluid to drink; there’s a drop for under the tongue; there are topicals that are beauty and bathing products; and there are smokable and vapable products.

“Our products are made from the hemp plant, and they’re not marijuana,” Ware says. “The marijuana battle is its own battle, but this isn’t marijuana.”

Burdett says there’s a lot of misinformation about CBD products.

“There’s a lot of people that are just ignorant about it,” he says.

Education is key, Smith says.

He says that Shaman corporate is working to get an injunction that would allow its stores to keep operating despite legal challenges.

There was some incorrect information in Wichita news this week that Smith was forced to close his business.

Smith says he wasn’t in his store on Monday when someone claiming to be with the state stopped by to say the store’s sales are illegal. He says he didn’t want any trouble for his employees, so he told them to close the store. It’s now open again.

“Yesterday was a serious scare,” Smith says.

He says that “the whole Shaman family, we’re all banding together on this to fight the fight.”

Smith, Ware and Burdett all say there are myriad medicinal reasons someone might use CBD products.

They say that could be to help with the pain of arthritis or to stimulate the appetite of someone undergoing cancer treatments. In addition to helping with physical ailments, they say some CBD products can help with depression.

“There’s virtually no kind of side effect at all except feeling good,” Ware says.

The “Shaman” of American Shaman stands for healer.

“We have people who need our products,” Ware says. “It’s not a want or desire.”

Schmidt’s opinion and the Legislature’s bill seem to be causing extra interest in the stores, she says.

“It’s been a hoppin’ day,” Ware says.

“We’ve created products that are getting more and more popular,” says Burdett, whose Wichita store has been open since October.

He and Ware say Shaman has known this battle has been coming, because it’s happened in other states as well.

“Being that these are red states that they’re starting in, they knew there would be issues that would come up,” Ware says. “It’s going to be a long legal battle, is our expectation.”

She says Shaman corporate is being proactive and has no intentions to “quietly slink away.”

“I really do believe Derek Schmidt is on the wrong side of this one.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers