Michael Lowery remembers a time when e-cigarettes and vaping products were used primarily by smokers who wanted to quit their habit. “Originally, it was a replacement for cigarettes,” he recalls.
Although never approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a smoking cessation aid, vaping products have been shown, in at least one study, to increase the likelihood someone will successfully quit smoking. That’s what Lowery saw when he got into the business in 2011 too. “It was helping people get off cigarettes,” he says.
Lowery opened his first store in Grand Rapids and then moved into Lowell about six years ago after realizing a core group of his customers came from Saranac and the surrounding areas. However, in the years since, the vaping industry moved in a direction he never expected. Newer products seem to be marketed to non-smokers, and teens took up the habit in increasing numbers. Then, last year, there was a rash of deadly vaping-related illnesses although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says those were all linked to products containing THC, the psychoactive substance found in marijuana.
“The word vape got so tarnished,” Lowery says. People would walk by his shop and make disparaging comments about his business. “After building a brand for so long, it hurt.”
However, Lowery understands that the market has changed and that he must change too. While he continues to serve his current customers, he wants to build a business based on promoting wellness. When the federal Farm Bill went into effect last year legalizing hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) oil, he knew exactly how he wanted to rebrand.
Late last year, he unveiled a new look and vision for his business, and the Lowell Hemp Co was born. Located at 216 W. Main Street, Ste. 2, the store has a focus on sourcing high-quality CBD products of all kinds.
Lowell Hemp Co: Focus on Wellness
CBD seems to be having a moment, and Lowery says it’s for good reason. He uses CBD for pain in his shoulder and finds it beneficial. The FDA has also approved a CBD-based medication for the treatment of two rare forms of epilepsy. What’s more, research is looking at whether the substance might be effective in treatment for a range of medical issues such as pain and inflammation, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, opioid addiction and even osteoarthritis in dogs.
For the time being, CBD products are not FDA-approved and, therefore, can’t be marketed with specific medical claims. While some products may have small amounts of THC in them, CBD is non-psychoactive and shouldn’t be confused with marijuana. “It’s the same family [of plant], but you’re not going to get the high,” Lowery says.
Plus, he says it’s not a product that you can overdose on. While some people may have negative reactions, research indicates overdosing is highly improbable, and CBD oil doesn’t contain addictive elements.
Lowell Hemp Co sells a variety of products from edible supplements to tinctures to patches. Lowery says not all products are created equal, and he works to find vendors offering high quality goods.
“Just because you see something advertised nationally, that doesn’t mean it’s a quality product,” according to Lowery. Most reputable companies, he says, have codes on their packaging that can be scanned by a smartphone so consumers can view lab results for the product online.
After nearly a decade in business, Lowery is excited for what the future holds. He hopes to have expanded store hours in 2020 and continue to find products that will enhance the wellness of his customers.
To learn more about Lowell Hemp Co, visit the store’s Facebook page. You can also read more about CBD on the FDA website. As always, consult with your doctor before taking any new supplement, particularly if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking another medication.