By Carol Tannenhauser
Steven Phan’s grandmother is neither certain nor pleased about what her grandson does for a living.
“He sells drugs in a store,” she tells friends when they ask.
“Grandma, no!” Phan, 29, protests.
Like so many other people, he said, in a recent interview with WSR, his grandmother doesn’t understand CBD, which is what he does sell in his stores, aptly named, Come Back Daily. He and his partner, Waseem Ghattas, already have locations in TriBeCa and the Lower East Side, and are opening on the Upper West Side on September 6th. (Are we possibly becoming hip?)
Come Back Daily will be in the Turnstyle Underground Market, beneath 8th Avenue, between 57th and 58th Street. (You do not need to swipe your MetroCard to enter.) Go down the stairs and turn left and left again, and you’ll find Phan eager to educate you about CBD, aka Cannabidiol, a component of the Cannabis plant about which everyone is raving, skeptical, curious, fearful, and confused.
We spoke to Phan about CBD this week, as he worked to ready the store.
“Having been a Cannabis advocate and activist for the past decade, I see this as really exciting,” he said. “For the first time in my life, I can say, ‘Hey, this is a positive thing, and it doesn’t get you high.’”
With that key fact established, we turned to the question of legality. CBD is made from hemp, which is a cousin of marijuana but it’s not marijuana. Hemp was deemed legal (under certain conditions) by the 2018 federal farm bill, but earlier this year, the New York City Health Department banned restaurants from serving CBD-infused drinks and food. What gives?
“The issue was that they were adding CBD to food that comes on a plate,” Phan explained. “If I hand you a plate of food, there’s no way of you knowing if there’s really CBD in it or how much. Our products are all prepackaged and clearly labeled. If it doesn’t say it on the package, we don’t carry it. Suppliers have to produce lab tests. It’s not mandatory, but we ask for it.”
In what forms does CBD come?
“We’ll be selling tinctures (sublingual oils that go under your tongue), creams, honey, gummies, chocolate, tea, drinks, and many other things,” Phan said. “Again, they are all prepackaged and labeled, just as if you went to Rite-Aid and bought a KitKat.”
What is CBD used for?
“The number one reason people use it is for pain, from basic muscle soreness to sports injuries to recovering from surgery. The creams are nice, because they’re external. They’re not too intimidating and very familiar. You put Bengay on when you have muscle soreness, so customers are a little more open to it.“
As for the second most popular reason for using CBD: “It’s very close between stress and sleep,” Phan answered, “because they’re interrelated.”
How do you know how much to take?
“It’s not as easy as me saying, ‘Take 25 mg. That’s gonna do it for you,’” he said. “We have to experiment. This is plant medicine. You have to understand how it works for your body. Medicine and health care cannot be the same for everyone. Pain tolerance and stress level come into play. Everyone’s stress is different.”
Phan is eager to get before Upper West Siders and explain what he’s learned through study and experience about CBD. He acknowledges that scientific explanation is limited, and will only say that “CBD works by promoting balance in bodily systems” and is good for inflammation. “If the root cause of your problem is inflammation,” he said, “I’d bet my own money it will work.”
It did for a woman who came into the TriBeCa store with her adult grandchildren. They were cajoling her to “just try it,” Phan recalled, “and she was like, ‘no, no, no!’” Come Back Daily encourages customers to “try it before you buy it,” and has many testers and samples available. “I said try it on your ankles,” Phan continued. “They must hurt after a day of shopping. She agreed to put it on one ankle. Ten minutes later, she said, ‘Can I put it on the other ankle?’”
The September opening will feature CBD mock-tails, and some snacks and finger bites. Phan urges “everyday” Upper West Siders to drop by.
“I don’t need to be in front of stoners,” he said. “I want to be in front of ordinary people. I want a chance to educate them. I want a moment of their time to shed some light on something they might be misinformed about, and that might help them very much.”
Read more about another UWS business that experimented with CBD here.