Downtown store rebrands as CBD lounge

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A downtown business is rebranding around a substance that's related to marijuana.

The vaping store formerly known as Smoke Brake Vapes is now called Sweet ReLeaf and while the store will still carry vaping products, its new focus is on a compound called CBD, short for cannabidiol.

CBD is derived from hemp, a close relative of marijuana. CBD is legal with some regulations, and while it won't get users high, it's being used by some people to treat all kinds of ailments from anxiety to epilepsy.

Sweet ReLeaf co-owner Tracy Riffel says she first tried CBD a few years ago for hip pain, and she was skeptical it would do much. But she was pleasantly surprised when her hip improved so much that her massage therapist commented on it.

"I didn't tell her I was taking CBD, and she noticed,” Tracy said. “She told me I was very even, and whatever I was doing, to keep on doing it."

Tracy's daughter, Bree Riffel, encouraged her mother to carry CBD products at her vaping store, so Tracy began stocking up.

"There are CBD sublingual drops, there are several tinctures you can add to a vape pen,” Tracy said. “There are dog treats, vitamins, and CBD flower.”

Studies cited by the Harvard Medical School show CBD is effective in treating epilepsy, insomnia and anxiety, and it may help with chronic pain. But there are some risks, and as a supplement, it's not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Demand for CBD has spiked as people have learned about it, and Bree suggested to her mother that they rebrand the store with a CBD focus.

"I figure that we could have a much broader, more open spectrum of customers,” Bree said. “People that we can get to with CBD then when we were being so closed off with vaping."

Tracy agreed and brought Bree in as a business partner in Sweet ReLeaf.

"It is just booming right now, this mushroom effect, and we wanted to get in and be one of the first CBD lounges in Central Virginia," Tracy said.

One issue that may arise is that the CBD flower is hard to distinguish from marijuana. The Charlottesville Police Department declined to comment on how officers will tell the difference.

Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Joe Platania said only that it's “an evolving area of the law that presents unique legal issues.”

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