Brands Entrepreneurship Mar 01, 2016

How Hemp-Based CBD Is Changing Lives at Ambary Gardens, With or Without the FDA

Recently, Ambary Gardens received an email with the following story:

“I just wanted you to know how much CBD oil has changed my daughter’s life. My daughter has chronic Lyme Disease. It causes her to have severe migraines, high anxiety, arthritis in her spine, and worst of all, grand mal seizures. It’s horrifying to watch.

The doctors gave her doses of medicine, and then (more) medicine for the side effects of those meds. We finally got tired of watching these seizures ruin our girl’s life. I had heard of CBD oil helping with seizures. I figured it was time to try it. I took her a bottle of CBD. She had her last seizure in May of last year.

Thank you SO much for supplying oil for us. If we didn’t have access to it, she would still be living that life that was ruled by her next seizure.”  

These are the types of stories that the staff at Ambary Gardens hear every day.  Unfortunately, because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved any drug products containing cannabidiol (CBD), Ambary Gardens and other CBD product providers are limited to promoting their benefits through testimonials.  Even though the United States Department of Health and Human Services has a patent on the antioxidant and neuroprotective benefits of CBD, companies cannot point to the specific illnesses CBD is known to treat, such as cancer, anxiety, nausea, seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder, and inflammation.  This is true even for products like those from Ambary Gardens, which are derived exclusively from industrial hemp (rather than marijuana) and contain less than 0.3% THC.

That didn’t stop Steve Cohen from opening Ambary Gardens in Kittredge, Colorado last year.  Cohen built the greenhouses located on the company’s property over 30 years ago, where he then operated a year-round garden center for 24 years.  He sold the business only to see the new owner close the doors several years later.

The property sat empty for four years before Steve decided to try and grow industrial hemp to provide CBD hemp oil to pain sufferers.  “I researched the healing qualities of CBD and I had an empty greenhouse sitting there – so I put two and two together.”  He hired an experienced grower, Samer Abilmona, and a biochemist, Evan Clinthorne, to assist him in his goal of growing a high-yielding CBD hemp strain and manufacturing a line of CBD products.

Cohen believes that the key to Ambary Gardens’ success will be education.  With the misconception that industrial hemp is associated with THC-rich medical marijuana and with doctors that are hesitant to prescribe CBD before FDA approval, most customers will need to learn about its benefits by other means.  For the education arm of Ambary Gardens, Cohen joined forces with Terri Leek, a water Zumba instructor who was selling her CBD treatments from the back of her car.  While at first she was hesitant to offer marijuana-based products to her clientele, she found that she soon had a large following with a high demand for her homemade pain salve.  When she heard about the high quality CBD oils from Ambary Gardens, she jumped at the opportunity to purchase bulk oil for her own products.  “I was really excited to buy oils from Steve, but he had another idea,” she explained. Cohen bought Leek’s business, and she became the Sales Director for Ambary Gardens.

As a five-time Teacher of the Year award winner in Oklahoma and a self-proclaimed CBD activist, Leek is a natural fit for the role.  She is developing the curriculum for a series of free, weekly classes about cannabidiol, which she will teach at both the Ambary Gardens retail location in Kittredge and in Conifer, Colorado, with eventual plans to expand to Denver.

The team also hired a registered nurse and licensed cannabis professional, Jennie Stormes, to operate the company’s hotline.  With over a decade of treating her son and other patients with CBD, she helps Ambary Gardens’ customers identify which products might work best for their particular ailments.  

Additionally, Ambary Gardens’ CBD oil will be used in independent clinical trial studies for PTSD through Milestone Research.  This will bolster the company’s education efforts with unbiased, scientific results that demonstrate the health benefits of CBD.

Until then, Cohen, Leek, and the team will continue to educate people about CBD, a single patient at a time, with the mission of improving patients’ health and giving healthcare practitioners alternatives to conventional medical treatments.  In fact, they told us that they’re going to the local children’s hospital this week to offer their CBD products to the family of an infant with who is suffering with over a 100 seizures a day.  We’re in the business of miracles,” Leek said. “It’s pretty exciting!”