NEWTOWN, PA — What started as a small kiosk in the Lehigh Valley Mall has grown to four storefronts in three counties.
Smooth Roots CBD, which sells organic products made from hemp plants farmed in Oregon, recently celebrated the opening of its fourth location at 120 S. State Street with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in downtown Newtown.
Cannabidoil, or CBD, is a chemical extracted from the cannabis or hemp plant. It contains zero or extremely low levels of THC, the chemical in marijuana that causes a psychoactive effect, according to the Harvard Medical School.
While medical experts disagree on the chemical’s potential health benefits, proponents of CBD tout it as a treatment for everything from aches and pains to anxiety and sleep disorders.
Eddie Salzman, a Lehigh Valley native, runs Smooth Roots CBD with his partner, Dave Leib, a Newtown native and veteran who served four tours overseas.
In 2014, Salzman moved to Oregon and learned the ropes of the cannabis business, and by 2018, he had a small investment company with enough capital to start a retail business.
“My whole goal was to learn the business and bring it back here to Pennsylvania,” Salzman said, but he’s faced resistance from a state legislature that appears reluctant to pass meaningful legislation that would ease restrictions on medical marijuana and open the door to recreational marijuana.
“If we could begin our [medical marijuana] licensing process in PA, we would, but they’re not accepting new applications,” he said.
Salzman also expressed frustration with Gov. Tom Wolf’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, which he says unfairly hurt small businesses. During the government shutdown, he sent in forms to request that his business be considered essential, claiming his products help people with issues in their immune system and those who suffer from anxiety, but his was not one of the 348 Bucks County businesses awarded the exemption and was instead forced to close his businesses for three months.
While Pennsylvania lags on issuing any more medical marijuana licenses, Salzman says they have plans to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Oregon under the Smooth Roots name.
“If our only goal was to sell CBD, we wouldn’t have retail stores,” Salzman said. “We would do it all online, because the overhead is immense to have a retail store. This is setting us up to become a full-service dispensary once Pennsylvania opens up the system again.”