He lost 30 pounds, and his cholesterol dropped 400 points. The pain in his knees, feet, and ankles from playing sports and being overweight began to subside. He started sleeping better, and even reversed a diagnosis of prediabetes. And it all started with a two-month regimen of cannabidiol—better known as CBD, which introduced Mike Sims to a different yet powerful side of the cannabis plant.
“I’m no longer hurting,” Sims says. “I’ve lost an additional 25 pounds, and I feel incredible. And all of this, I can really attest to CBD. It’s allowed me to get on this healthier lifestyle.”
Sims has brought that message to Five Points with the opening of Charlotte CBD, a Columbia branch of the successful Queen City flagship dispensary he opened along with two partners in October of 2018. Sims is much more than a business owner — on the subject of cannabis, he’s also an advocate, political activist, non-profit founder, distributor, and believer in the power of education.
“We talk with vendors, travel to farms, go to the places where these products are made,” Sims says. “We want to make sure we’re bringing everybody the best quality products we can. And ultimately, our vision is to keep it standing and be ready for when medical marijuana or recreational marijuana hits the shelves in South Carolina and North Carolina.”
Tipping the scales
CBD comes from hemp, a type of cannabis containing .3 percent or less of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient in marijuana that gets users high. Although hemp and marijuana are related and often confused, they’re not identical — opening the door for the federal government to legalize hemp in 2018, with the state of South Carolina following suit.
Judging from the reaction to the opening of Charlotte CBD’s first store — where “we saw thousands of people come through the door in the first few weeks,” Sims recalls—the timing was right. A business partner who graduated from USC recommended Charlotte CBD look at Columbia, where some members of Sims’ family live. The former Copper Penny space at 610 Harden St. offered a location in the heart of Five Points.
“We just fell in love with the area,” Sims says. “So far, we’ve been welcomed with open arms.”
The plans for the Columbia location are ambitious, and part of Sims’ goal to separate himself from competitors through education and expertise. His products are tested for purity by a lab at Wingate University. He’s teaming up with a network of doctors who can offer customers advice on how CBD might affect any medications they’re on. He’ll have a licensed physician who can offer medical cannabis cards.
Sims says Charlotte CBD at Five Points will hold classes on cannabis, and there are also plans to open Columbia’s first hemp bar in the evenings on Thursday through Saturday. And Sims adds that he and his staff are always available to answer questions about the product.
“It’s not uncommon for us to spend 20, 30 minutes with one customer,” he says. “The beauty of that is when they leave our store, they’re going to tell their friends about what they learned and how much it’s helped them and why it’s helped them. That’s the most powerful tool we have — not just for our business, but for our industry as a whole. We’re fighting 100 years of lies and stigma, and we’ve had our hands tied the whole time. Now, we’re finally tipping the scales.”
Euphoria and relief
The need for CBD products is evident to Sims in his store every day: people who come in wracked with pain or riddled with anxiety, and desperate to find something that will help. Sometimes, staff members are driven to tears. Sims says he’s witnessed occasions where even a sample of CBD gummies or tincture brings some relief.
“We have an opioid epidemic in this country where people are looking for pain relief, natural pain relief, and we’re becoming educated consumers now,” he says. “We realize that there are way better options that we need to pursue, and I think we’re on the front edge of that.”
Although CBD is not yet regulated — the reason Sims puts his products through such rigorous testing — a derivative medication is being used to help treat certain types of childhood epilepsy, and researchers also see hope for those dealing with insomnia, anxiety, and chronic pain. To find a personal testament to CBD’s effects, Sims needs only to walk into his store. Or, look in the mirror.
“I was its biggest skeptic,” he says. “I smoked weed my whole life and was like, ‘If it was gonna do this, it would’ve done it.’ But I realized as I was taking the CBD, it really has given me much more than that just the THC could do. Being high is great for me and a lot of folks, but when you take the things that don’t get you high, that really give you some relief and some euphoria, it’s amazing. It’s a wonderful thing.”
Interested in learning more about CBD? Visit Charlotte CBD’s Five Points location at 610 Harden St., call (803) 563-6012, follow on Facebook or Instagram, or visit their website at CLTCBD.com. Charlotte CBD ships to all 50 states, accepts all major credit cards, and the month of October is buy one/get one half off at all of their stores and online.