Updated: Feb 28, 2019
By Jack Shea email@example.com Dec 28, 2018
Photo: Spencer Kalker, left, and Kurt Kalker in their shop Cape Ann Botanicals in Ipswich, which will soon open a store on Pleasant Street in Newburyport. (Photo Credit: BRYAN EATON/Staff )
NEWBURYPORT — The city’s first cannabis-related business is coming to a Pleasant Street storefront in as little as two weeks, but it won’t be getting people high.
Cape Ann Botanicals, owned by Ipswich resident Spencer Kalker, specializes in selling products containing cannabidiol – or CBD — a hemp-derived compound that lacks THC, the intoxicating ingredient found in marijuana, but is said to offer a variety of medicinal benefits, including treatment for pain, inflammation and anxiety.
When the shop opens in January, downtown shoppers will be able to purchase CBD products that include oil tinctures to be dissolved on the tongue, vaporizers, balms, lotions, chocolates and even dog treats.
Kalker — whose other business, Old Planters of Cape Ann, is opening a marijuana retail dispensary in Rowley — opened his first CBD shop in Ipswich in July and said he hoped to give the community insight on the benefits of the cannabis plant.
“With cannabis, there’s such a chasm between perception and reality, and so much is still being discovered,” he said. “We felt there wasn’t enough education for the community and we wanted the store to be an educational emporium for people to come in and discover it for themselves.”
Kalker said that in the months since Cape Ann opened in Ipswich, the shop has been embraced by many residents and has earned its fair share of returning customers who tout the benefits of CBD.
“It’s at a point now where everybody loves us, and we’ve been doing reasonably good business,” Kalker said, adding that he looks forward to opening in Newburyport, where he hopes to shed light on what he believes to be the benefits of cannabis.
“I hope we can help give people a better perspective,” Kalker said. “I’m there to provide an opportunity for people to find relief.”
CBD products have not been evaluated by the federal Food and Drug Administration, and while studies have indicated a level of legitimacy for CBD products in treating some symptoms, they often hint at the role of the placebo effect and call for more research.
Kalker admitted that while the placebo effect may be present in some cases, he has seen real results in many of his customers.
“In some cases, it is” the placebo effect, Kalker said. “When you try something new, you hope. But we’re finding people that are coming in three months later and still buying products, and if they stop using it, the effects go away. That’s not placebo.”
Kalker also said that inconsistent product quality is common in the CBD market due to deceptive labeling and that Cape Ann uses a “very serious” vetting process to ensure the quality of its items.
“Some products are not what they say they should be. Every product we have in the store, we have lab results on — it really is a buyer-beware situation,” he said.
Also on staff at Cape Ann is Kalker’s brother, Kurt Kalker, a registered pediatric nurse who will consult with customers and make product suggestions based on their needs and current medications.
Kurt Kalker explained that not all CBD products are created equal and that Cape Ann Botanicals carries a variety that often contain different essential oils and cannabinoid blends, each aimed at providing users with relief for various symptoms.
“Anxiety is what brings in a lot of people into the store,” he said. “I thought we were going to see mostly people with pain, but that’s not the case. It’s been anxiety, and a lot of people have gotten relief from using our products.”
There are no age restrictions for buying CBD products, but Spencer Kalker said his store won’t sell to anyone under 18 without a parent being present.
Spencer highlighted his shop’s goal of having a positive impact on the community and said he hopes to serve Newburyport in the same way a pharmacy would.
“We’re trying to enhance people’s capacity to enjoy life,” he said. “For us as a company, it’s really about having that community support and interaction. It’s a different approach, but it’s how I live.”
For more information on Cape Ann Botanicals, visit https://www.capeannbotanicals.com.
Staff writer Jack Shea can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.