Local business selling more CBD oil


A substance known as cannabidiol or CBD oil has made headlines in Indiana over the past year.

And in recent months, it has helped put a local small business on the map.

Krystal Harrell, owner of The Herbal Alternative in Seymour, said nearly every customer who walks in her store is looking to buy or ask about CBD products.

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She’s happy to educate them on what cannabidiol is and isn’t and the benefits it may have for people with physical and mental ailments.

From oils and capsules to salves, disposable vape pens, gummies and even products for pets, if it’s labeled CBD, it’s hard to keep on the shelf, she said.

People are driving from other communities, including Indianapolis, to get their CBD from Harrell, and she ships it to customers all across the country.

She also is seeing people coming in who have been referred to her by doctors who support the use of CBD, she said.

Harrell credits the high interest in CBD to people wanting options to cure pain and other conditions rather than prescription medications, which often include highly addictive opioids and use of illegal drugs.

She encourages people to talk to their doctor and keep them in the loop if they are considering or are taking CBD products.

“Some clients have worked with their doctors to reduce their medications using CBD,” Harrell said.

Although she promotes the use of cannabidiol to customers now, there was a time last year when she was worried she might be arrested for selling it.

In November 2017, the state attorney general ruled it was illegal to possess, use or sell CBD products because they are made from cannabis or marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance.

Cannabidiol, however, does not have the mind-altering effects of marijuana because they contain such low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.

“You can’t get high,” Harrell said.

After receiving pressure from Hoosiers, Gov. Eric Holcomb called a moratorium on CBD sales enforcement to allow store owners to continue to sell their products while lawmakers made a decision on whether they wanted CBD to be legal in Indiana.

During that time, Harrell said sales really took off because people were afraid the state would crack down on CBD. But that’s not what ended up happening.

On March 21, Holcomb signed Senate Bill 52 into law, officially making it legal to use and sell CBD oil as long as it has a THC level that is 0.3 percent or lower.

Harrell not only sells CBD products, but she and her family and all of her employees use them, too.

“CDB has made a big difference in his life,” Harrell said of her husband, Tom, who suffers from arthritis and bursitis in his shoulders.

Tom Harrell tried going to the chiropractor, but that treatment was only going so far in relieving his pain, he said. He also did acupuncture and physical therapy for months.

“He needs to have two shoulder replacements,” Krystal said. “I’d literally not seen him raise his arms above his chest in a year.”

But that changed when he started using CBD products.

“He starts taking CBD and using the salve, and he’s changing light bulbs,” she said.

Medical studies have found cannabidiol to have medicinal properties that help with pain, inflammation, anxiety, sleep, appetite suppression, movement disorders, memory, seizures, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

Although it worked for him, Tom wanted to be sure it wasn’t just a fluke, so he stopped using CBD twice. He doubted that just a few drops of liquid could keep that much pain away.

But it does, he said.

“The pain comes back, and I can’t function,” he said.

Krystal said she takes CBD oil to battle anxiety.

The scientific reason why it can help people is that the body has an endocannabinoid system that feeds a person’s nervous system where pain receptors reside, Krystal said.

“When you start to feed your endocannabinoid system, it’s like you have a dry riverbed in your body, so when you start feeding that again, you start putting water in the river and everything flourishes,” she said.

Krystal said she became interested in being a CBD distributor after her husband purchased a bigger building at 2015 N. Ewing St. in April 2017 for her to relocate and expand The Herbal Alternative.

“We knew we were going to have more square footage, and you’ve got to fill your space, right?” she said. “That’s when we started researching CBD, the laws of CBD in Indiana and what CBD can do for people.”

She started requesting samples from different companies producing CBD products and in July made the decision to start selling it. The goal was to have the product in stock for customers when the store reopened in early September.

There are different brands, strengths and forms of CBD products, and no two people are the same, she said.

“That’s why I like to have a conversation with my customers, and I like to make suggestions based on what their symptoms are,” she said.

The Herbal Alternative sells two brands: Charlotte’s Web and Pur 7. Prices range from around $20 for salve to $190 for high-potency oil.

“I’m the biggest account that they have,” she said. “I’m purchasing $15,000 a month in CBD.”

Harrell said she still fights the stigma people have that CBD is marijuana.

“I still have people that come in and go, ‘I need some of that cannabis,’” she said. “It’s not cannabis. Cannabis is marijuana, and that’s illegal. I’m still educating people that there is a difference. People just don’t know, and that’s OK. That’s why we’re here.”

It’s the education piece that’s just as important to her as making a sale because she wants to help people get healthy.

“I’m not just somebody trying to sell you a product,” she said. “I truly want you to feel better.”

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