Franchise owner plans to open more CBD stores in Tri-Cities

If you let him, Donnie Lewis will talk your ears off about hemp and the virtues of CBD oil.

He isn’t alone in his enthusiasm. Many people are turning to CBD to help with a variety of ailments, ranging from lack of sleep, anxiety and depression to pain relief.

That’s why Lewis opened a CBD American Shaman franchise store in October at 6821 W. Clearwater Ave., Suite A, in Kennewick.

“On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being most successful), it’s a 10,” Lewis said. “I still pinch myself every day.”

CBD stands for cannabidiol, an active ingredient of the cannabis plant. Yes, that controversial plant. The one that produces marijuana.

But most CBD comes from the hemp plant, a relative of the marijuana plant. And while a marijuana plant has a higher percentage of THC, the ingredient that provides a high, CBD from the hemp plant has less than 1 percent of THC.

The health benefits of CBD and marijuana have long been controversial.

CBD may relieve pain from multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis; relieve anxiety, depression and cancer-related side effects; reduce acne; provide neuroprotective properties; and benefit heart health, according to Healthline.com.

But the website also cautions against possible side effects, including tiredness, diarrhea and changes in appetite.

According to the Harvard Medical Research website, CBD shouldn’t take the place of diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.

Lewis will be the first to say that CBD should complement traditional medications.

“CBD deals with the inflammation in our bodies,” he said. “People are starting to realize that CBD oil can be used right along with their pharmaceuticals, and it makes the medication more effective with the body. And maybe then people can go to their doctor and say, ‘Can maybe we get rid of the medications that work the least?’ ”

This isn’t Lewis’ first foray into CBD American Shaman, which opened in 2014 in the Midwest.

“I’ve been doing this close to two years now,” Lewis said. “I was involved in another CBD American Shaman store in Oklahoma. Me and my buddies started the first store in Tulsa in 2017. In Tulsa, 90 days after we opened, we did $92,000 of business in a month.”

CBD is becoming big business around the country.

The CBD American Shaman has 130 franchise stores around the country, according to its website.

“But there are going to be over 300 stores, with many of them getting their paperwork completed, around the country soon,” Lewis said.

The cost to open a franchise ranges from $25,000 to $45,000, depending upon the market area, according to the American Shaman website.

When the U.S. Farm Bill passed in December, it ensured that any cannabinoid derived from hemp will be legal, if the hemp is produced in a manner consistent with the Farm Bill, associated federal regulations, state regulations, and by a licensed grower, according to The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization.

The CBD market is expected to grow to more than $22 billion by 2022, according to The Brightfield group, a cannabis industry analyst group.

Lewis moved last August from Oklahoma to the Tri-Cities to be near his mother.

But he also has plans to expand the franchise.

“Within six months, there will be three stores in the Tri-Cities,” he said. “One in each city.”

He said he has more than 20 different products in his store. They vary from water solubles to creams, to candies and popcorn. There are even pet products to ease cat or dog anxieties.

 “Our top sellers are the water solubles and the anti-inflammatory creams,” Lewis said.

And on the company’s website, customers can find lab reports on each product.

“In another month, it’ll be 35 products here,” Lewis said. “I’d like to eventually bring in hemp clothing. As we see more and more people come along, you’ll see a lot more than CBD.”

Lewis said he also feels the need to educate people about hemp.

“In Oklahoma, people know the difference between hemp and marijuana,” he said. “But in Washington, a lot of people believe hemp and marijuana are no different.”

Lewis says he’s on a mission, and that’s why he came to the Tri-Cities.

“I had three goals in coming here,” he said. “No. 1, be close to my mom. Two, get the agriculture side of the business going. And three, get the industry side going.”

The agricultural component involves encouraging farmers to grow hemp.

“In this part of Washington, we never thought at one time it would be such a Mecca for hops,” Lewis said. “Or how wine has been produced here. Hemp could be the same exact thing.”

CBD American Shaman: 6821 W. Clearwater Ave., Suite A, Kennewick; 509-405-2365; cbdamericanshaman.com; Facebook.

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