By Susan E. Campbell
Hemp and its plant oil extract, cannabidiol, or CBD, are becoming popular for people to invest in. One local business, Saratoga CBD Co., has located in Saratoga Springs.
The owner is Ella DiPietro, once a stay-at-home mom with experience in sales and degrees in sports management and nutrition.
Unfortunately, a serious injury while coaching several years ago landed her in surgery to replace her ACL. But, fortunately for her career as a business woman and entrepreneur, the silver lining was her introduction to CBD.
“During my recovery friends gave me a bottle of CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD, the latter having a tiny trace of the drug THC,” she said. “I didn’t want to use cannabis for pain or be vomiting up opioids. Only 17 hours after surgery, I was up walking around and was totally healed within three months, not the usual one year.”
When she went jogging after four months, medical professionals told her she was “an anomaly. I knew then I wanted to be a part of the hemp industry in a way that helped people to get involved,” she said.
There has been much confusion and even fear among the public in the months since the FDA began to evaluate a regulation strategy. And recent news stories are leaving consumers wondering, if CBD is legal and safe.
According to a World Health Organization Expert Committee on Drug Dependence report presented in 2018, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential.”
Buyers should beware, though. Not all CBD products are what they are marketed to be, according to DiPietro.
“The average consumer lacks the knowledge and sophistication to evaluate products and make choices on their own,” she said. “These products are pricey and some that claim to have 250 cannabinoids in them actually have zero. That company is looking to deceive you.”
Because she “hates to see inferior products brought into the community,” DiPietro said she is “committed to being a strong resource for people who need healing.” Her business model is to source out the best quality product and “vertically integrate the company from seed to CBD” to maintain control over quality and distribution.
She does not have a storefront or retail space. Her Saratoga CBD Co. brand is distributed directly through mail order. She is a broker of CBD in whatever form of product her clients want, from oils and creams to roll-ons and food additives, either under her own brand or as a private label opportunity.
DiPietro said she sources from growers in the mid-Atlantic “sitting on acreage going back 300 years. There’s ancestry in the farm. It matters where the hemp is grown. This is not coming from China or someone’s kitchen, but FDA-certified facilities.”
CBD is extracted at plants in Kentucky where it is made into product and shipped to clients according to their needs. That could be chewing gum or cream. Recently she helped an entrepreneur open a store at Aviation Mall in Queensbury, where the business will sell her brand. She trains the staff not only about product but also how to relate to clients. The store owner is free to shelf other brands at the same time, she said.
She has a referral network of pain management professionals from New York City and upstate whose clients need a therapeutic approach but who, by personal choice, reject taking drugs or medical marijuana.
Her latest endeavor is establishing her company as the exclusive distributor of CBD products through smart vending machines in the northeast down to Florida.
“The first vending machine is being manufactured right now,” said DiPietro. “One costs $22,000, so it is much cheaper than staffing and training personnel.”
The machine is “smart” in that the owner can keep track of inventory, sales data, times of use and other analyses by cell phone. The age of the consumer using the vending machine is determined by fingerprint. After inputting the type of symptoms, the machine makes a product recommendation that can be purchased, and repurchased, on the spot.
She said that quality CBD products are helping people get off dangerous pain medications and for this, and other health and wellness benefits, “everyone in the world should have access to them.”
People who are on prescription drugs would be wise to talk to their pharmacist, who DiPietro says “has the greatest ability to advise patients and may make recommendations.”
By Susan E. Campbell