The latest new release at Family Video isn’t a movie: it’s CBD, or cannabidiol.
More than 70 Family Video stores in Michigan — and 250 nationwide — are now carrying CBD products. CBD is a derivative of the cannabis plant that can be used as an alternative remedy for pain relief and anxiety, and is free of the psychoactive effects that come with the THC in marijuana.
“There are a lot of people that use CBD to relax, and guess what, that’s what a lot of people use movies for,” said Levi Dinkla, president of enterprise development for Highland Ventures Ltd., the parent company of Family Video.
Though there is little scientific research to support its use, its popularity has exploded in the past year — especially as hemp was nationally legalized in December 2018.
Outside a Family Video store in Westland, signs dot the median advertising CBD products at Family Video.
“As soon as you put the sign out there, customers that are already using it — are coming in,” said Jason Yuhasz, regional director of operations for Highland Ventures Ltd.
The Westland store started selling CBD sprays, oil, lip balm, gummies, muscle rub, water and pet oil two weeks ago. They’ve had to re-stock twice since then, Yuhasz said. Most sales don’t happen on the first visit, he said.
“They came in here to rent the Avengers; they didn’t come in here to get pain relief,” Yuhasz said. “But when they return their movie, in five days — ‘Oh. I’m going to give that a shot now.’ And that’s how most of our sales turn out.”
The decision to add CBD to Family Video locations came directly from company owner Keith Hoogland, who used CBD it to treat his tendonitis, Dinkla said. The relief Hoogland found from using CBD was an experience he wanted to bring to people in a way that they could trust and know is safe, Dinkla said.
Family Video stores are located in smaller communities that tend to be the last places for new trends to reach, Dinkla said.
“We see our role as being there as an educational resource for communities,” Dinkla said. “This is something that really made a difference and might be able to help people.”
Family Video stores started carrying CBD products in December 2018 — the same time that President Donald Trump signed the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill that legalized industrial hemp. CBD can be derived from industrial hemp.
Family Video decided to only sell Natural Native CBD products, an Oklahoma-based company that grows industrial hemp in Colorado through a research partnership with Colorado State University.
At the Westland store, the display case next to the register holds empty product vials to prevent shoplifting. The most expensive product is a $150 vial of oil, which lasts about a month. There are smaller, cheaper CBD products as well, like a $3 lip balm, $5 water or $25 trial size of an oral spray.
Dinkla said none of the Natural Native products sold at Family Video contain THC — the active chemical component in cannabis that, depending on the concentration, gets users high.
“We could be selling lottery; we could be selling alcohol. There’s a lot of things we could do,” Dinkla said. “We have a nice little neighborhood location in most communities that’s close to where people live, they can bike there with their families. We could do a lot of things. It doesn’t mean we want to do them.”
Family Video executives say customers — especially younger customers — are returning to the store for the first time in a long time.
“They’re coming in to buy CBD, and then they go, ‘I haven’t been in a video store in a long time,’ and then they set up an account,” Dinkla said. “Customers have really resonated with it.”
Though there is no federal or state age requirement for CBD products, Family Video only sells its CBD products to those age 18 years or older.
To Michigan officials, the sale of CBD products marketed as dietary supplements is considered illegal, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved the practice. The USDA will be reviewing its stance on CBD products in a series of hearings in May.
Although local health departments in Michigan have ordered coffee shops and restaurants to stop the sales of infused drinks, no action has been taken by officials against retail stores.