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Historic downtown Wilson will soon be the location for an emerging industry: hemp and cannabidiol.
“Marijuana contains high THC, low CBD while the hemp plant contains high CBD and low THC,” said Armaney Richardson-Peterson, co-owner of The Hemp Source. “Under the USDA, our Delta 9 THC level has to be under 0.3 percent and Delta 9 is a tetrahydrocannibinol, which is the molecule responsible for the marijuana high. CBD stands for cannabidiol, which bonds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors that are in every part of your body and your brain. The CBD finds those receptors and binds to them to block the pain signals while also repairing the receptors.”
Franchisee Siyonka Braswell said using The Hemp Source oil for her anxiety was incredibly beneficial and she jumped at the opportunity to share the products grown in Zebulon and manufactured in Wendell. Braswell leased a storefront on the 100 block of Goldsboro Street and shared the variety of products with attendees of the N.C Whirligig Festival.
“We sold out of stuff during the festival,” said Richardson-Peterson. “A lot of people were educated about it, but we also had some people we had to start with the basics and that is usually the case in every store and every city. Some people know nothing about it and think it is marijuana.”
Richardson-Peterson was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis as a young teen and was prescribed a variety of medications to treat her symptoms and the side effects of other medicine.
At 19, she got fed up with medical cycle and turned to marijuana for relief. She said she saw relief, but didn’t like the feeling of being high. She admitted to ordering CBD products online from other countries, but didn’t like the idea of not knowing much about how the plants were grown and products were manufactured.
When she was growing up, her father farmed tobacco, but changing markets forced him to turn to other crops to make ends meet.
“He came home one day and said he had learned about growing hemp at a meeting,” she recalled. “He asked if that was something I wanted to get into and I said, ‘Yeah’”
A year ago, she and her husband got a license from the state and soon started developing formulas and products to help others, first selling online, then branching out to storefronts in Wendell and Charlotte. Now The Hemp Source is opening locations in Wilson, Goldsboro, Durham, Wingate, Greensboro and Mount Rainier, Maryland.
“We are seed to shelf,” Richardson-Peterson said. “We don’t buy from anywhere and resell. Everything is grown on the farm in Zebulon and made at our corporate location in Wendell and sold at our stores.”
The products carried by The Hemp Source include CBD oil in a variety of strengths, a pain salve, gummies, edibles and products for animals. Customers must be over 18 to enter the shop and sign a disclaimer noting the staff are not physicians.
Richardson-Peterson said staff can give an overview of the products and refer to other customers’ experiences, but do not make recommendations.
“People think it is going to be a miracle, but once you start taking it every day, you’d start seeing a difference. I definitely did,” she said. “I thought I’d try it and have another thing I could say I tried, but didn’t work. It did work though and I haven’t had a flare-up since using it.”
Braswell recommended customers do their research and check with personal doctors before starting a CBD regimen. Richardson-Peterson and her husband, Charles Peterson, said they hope to change the mentality surrounding hemp and CBD, through locally grown and manufactured products.
“I think the roots of tobacco in Wilson has an influence on the location here as well,” Peterson said. “Big tobacco has a history here and now there is a hemp manufacturer in Wilson, so we’re bringing the retail aspect of industrial hemp to the public along with the benefits.”
For more information, visit thehempsourceusa.com/. The store will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, from noon to 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays as well as 1 to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
During a Tuesday morning board meeting, Wilson Economic Development Executive Director Jennifer Lantz pitched spending $5,000 to hire DCG Corplan Consulting to prepare an emerging industry analysis report for Wilson County.
“It covers every kind of job and shows you, based on your past, where they think we’re going. It takes our history and what is happening now and projects where we’ll go in the future,” Lantz explained. “I see it as investing in the future, so we can invest our marketing dollars even better than we are now.”
The board supported the decision, noting it will complement the information gathered during the recent Economic Strategic Summit to enable area leaders to build the infrastructure for a better tomorrow.
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