SURRY — Pugnuts Ice Cream shop is capitalizing on the popularity of CBD products with a hemp-based, CBD-oil infused toasted chocolate sorbet.
Owners Karlton Holmes and Eric Treworgy introduced the sorbet on June 25.
First, here’s a bit of botany:
CBD is short for cannibidiol, an oil derived from marijuana or hemp plants.
You might be more familiar with hemp’s sister plant, marijuana, which contains THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound that can result in a “high.”
Hemp and marijuana are varieties of cannabis.
Products containing hemp-derived CBD do not produce a “high” the way marijuana does because hemp contains less than .03 percent THC, according to the National Institute of Health.
That makes CBD edibles and topical products popular with users seeking pain relief. Proponents say the oil can help with a variety of ailments, including anxiety and joint pain.
“CBD has been attributed to have many beneficial effects, but there is nothing as yet in the literature that documents them,” Treworgy said. “So we don’t sell the sorbet with any claims whatsoever.”
Both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana are legal in Maine.
To that end, one Pugnuts customer asked in a social media post if the shop had any plans to introduce a product containing THC.
The shop said no.
Towns that want to allow commercial retail marijuana operations must “opt in” under state law.
Surry residents voted in November 2016 not to allow any retail or commercial marijuana sales or operations. The ban includes edible products containing marijuana.
Holmes and Treworgy consulted with the Surry Board of Selectmen about their CBD oil-infused sorbet before launching it.
“We sent an inquiry to [Maine Municipal Association] for a legal opinion and their response was it was legal,” said Selectman Bill Matlock. “There is nothing in the Surry UDO (unified development ordinance) that would prohibit the product.
“We responded that it’s OK to sell CBD-infused ice cream,” said Matlock. “I did suggest strongly labeling and carefully not selling it to under 18-year-olds, but it was only a suggestion.”
“The Maine Department of Agriculture, which oversees our production, is unconcerned,” said Holmes.
That said, several state and federal laws regulate CBD.
“At least six different regulatory schemes impact CBD, four at the state level and another three nationally,” said attorney Garrett Corbin, who is a legislative advocate for Maine Municipal Association.
“The law on this topic is very complicated at the moment,” Corbin said. “The complication has much to do with a recent change to federal statute via last year’s Farm Bill, an interpretation of the law by the federal FDA, and then another interpretation of federal law by state officials.”
“While the Controlled Substances Act includes cannabis (a.k.a. marijuana) as a federally prohibited drug, the recently enacted Farm Bill carves hemp out of this prohibition,” Corbin said.
“The carve-out on the one hand removes previous questions regarding the legality of hemp cultivation, but on the other hand leaves a new question surrounding the legality of hemp-derived products, such as CBD.”
One thing is for sure, CBD-infused products have become big business.
In addition to Pugnuts’ toasted chocolate sorbet, businesses have been injecting CBD oil into drinks, cookies, moisturizers and tinctures to name a few.
An article in Bloomberg last winter cited statistics that as many as seven percent of Americans are using products infused with CBD oil. That puts the “market opportunity” for the compound at $16 billion by 2025, the article stated.
The New York Times in a Feb. 25 article quoted a scientist as stating CBD “is a kind of a new snake oil in the sense that there are a lot of claims and not so much evidence.”
Pugnuts is not selling CBD-infused frozen treats to anyone under 18.
The shop is using CBD oil from a Unity business called East Coast CBD, Holmes said.