Lack of sleep, headache, stress and anxiety: ask almost any Cornellian and they will tell you that these are the most common ailments plaguing the student population.
By coincidence, these same illnesses are purportedly ones which can be treated with cannabidiol, or CBD, a substance extracted from the leaves of the cannabis sativa plant.
Until a few months ago, CBD medicines were only available in niche online stores and some alternative medicine shops. But with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and the subsequent passionate embrace of the cannabis industry by farmers, entrepreneurs and investors, one can find CBD everywhere from Wegman’s to GreenStar to CTB, and now, at the Cornell Health Pharmacy.
Cornell Health Pharmacy manager Tracey DeNardo told The Sun back in April that the pharmacology team was planning on doing a review over the summer to determine which CBD drug companies’ products, if any, they would sell at the campus pharmacy. That review has since concluded.
“This fall, the Cornell Health Pharmacy will be carrying locally sourced CBD tinctures, lotions, salves, and soft gels from Head and Heal in Cortland. We are responding to requests from students who want to try CBD to help treat conditions such as anxiety, pain, insomnia, and inflammation,” DeNardo told The Sun in a statement.
Head and Heal is a company based out of Main Street Farm in Cortland, about 30 minutes from Cornell’s Ithaca campus. Before getting into the cannabis industry, Main Street Farm grew a wide variety of organic vegetables and fruits. Now, it grows more than 40 acres of cannabis sativa plants, processes oil on-site, and sells its products at farmers markets across New York state. Cornell Health representatives, including DeNardo, visited the farm and facility in late July.
“I got really emotional while they were here; it felt like things had come full circle,” said Karli Miller-Hornick ’12, Head and Heal co-founder and graduate of the School of Hotel Administration. “When I was an undergrad, there were the most student suicides in a single period. It’s hard, you’re under a lot of pressure as a Cornell student. The whole time I was thinking, ‘How could I make this better?’”
Cornell Health’s pharmacy set out to meet criteria including thorough lab testing, a local farm source, a transparent production process and affordability. At Head and Heal, Miller-Hornick said that creating a high quality product free of fillers is their primary priority. Their other priority is to destigmatize the consumption of a cannabis-based product.
Head and Heal’s entire line of products — except for their pet treats — will be available for sale starting at the beginning of the fall school semester. Miller-Hornick told The Sun that while their 600 milligram tincture is their most popular product, commonly used by people who suffer from insomnia, headaches, and anxiety, their new soft gels have the same concentration of CBD oil and can be used to treat the same ailments.
Pharmacy manager Tracey Denardo reiterated Cornell Health’s commitment to assisting students in determining what medicinal products are right for them.
“Cornell Health’s medical clinicians are here to help students navigate treatment choices about any healthcare issue, and may discuss options for treatment that include CBD for patients who have an interest in this emerging product, any questions about it, or are wondering if it is a possibility for treatment for their symptoms considering their holistic and comprehensive healthcare needs,” she said.
Although New York has yet to legalize marijuana for wide medicinal use — it is currently only available to those who have a prescription — the growing distribution of CBD products represents a turning point in the culture surrounding cannabis stigma.
Many New York State politicians have publicly stated their support for the cannabis industry. Cornell’s news comes on the heels of Senator Chuck Schumer’s dedication of $500,000 to open the first and only industrial seed bank for hemp, partially located at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva.
For students who suffer from school-induced stress, these CBD products can be a welcome addition to the variety of treatment options available to them on campus. As a former student, Miller-Hornick is optimistic about the success of CBD products among students.
“I’ve been on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. I would never claim that CBD products are a full replacement, but they don’t give you any of the same side effects of grogginess or lethargy,” she said. “It’s a good alternative to pharmaceuticals.”