Bay View’s Erth Dispensary Opens Amidst CBD Boom – Bay View Compass

January 2, 2019

By Sheila Julson

Cannabidiol (CBD), which is extracted from hemp, has become a blooming industry since it became legal in Wisconsin in spring of 2018. Hemp is marijuana’s cousin but without its psychoactive compounds.

CBD has quickly gained a large, loyal base of users who seek natural alternatives for relief from chronic pain, anxiety, and other issues. 

On Dec. 8, Erth Dispensary, 1200 E. Oklahoma Ave., opened its doors to a line of people waiting outside its door. From the neighborhood and beyond, they eagerly waited to see and purchase CBD tinctures, oils, bath and body products, edibles, hemp flowers, vapes, pet products, and more.

Jennifer Kawczynski, who, with her family owns and operates Erth Dispensary, is a clinical aromatherapist. Photo Tom Grimm

Jennifer Kawczynski, who, with her family owns and operates Erth Dispensary, is a clinical aromatherapist. She started up two years ago as ErthScentials, selling her handcrafted natural bath and beauty products, which she sold at craft fairs, events, and other retail outlets. She studied the craft through coursework offered by the Aromahead Institute.

Kawczynski said she and her family were always passionate about natural, holistic wellness, alternative medicine, and clean eating. Around the time she began researching CBD and using it for herself and her family, customers also began asking for it. She started adding CBD to her products and eventually changed her niche to a CBD company offering products infused with essential oils.

The storefront on Oklahoma and Clement served as a dentist’s office before its most recent incarnation as a computer repair shop. Kawczynski noticed the storefront while visiting her aunt, who lives on Pine Avenue. “I just kept driving past and seeing this space with the For Lease sign, and when I got home, I thought, ‘I’m going to call and see what they want for it,’” she said. She called and found that the lease fit her budget. The open layout was ideal. After setting up the interior and installing a sophisticated security system (customers must be buzzed in, a common measure for most dispensaries), Kawczynski was set to open.

Essential oils infused with CBD oil. Photo Tom Grimm

Medi-Kare Pharmacy was also a previous tenant. Kawczynski hopes to find a historical photo of the building with the Medi-Kare sign and mount it side-by-side with a current photo of Erth Dispensary. 

There was a steady stream of customers on a Tuesday afternoon in December when the Compass stopped by. Previously, Kawczynski worked full-time in the finance industry but now operates Erth Dispensary full-time, with help from her husband, her daughter Cheyenne Code (store manager), and Kawczynski’s mother, known as Grandma Bud.

Kawczynski is also one of the “budtenders” at Erth’s Bud Bar, where customers can get an up-close look at the pure hemp flowers available and experience the different textures, smells, and potencies. “We have a featured Strain of the Week, instead of a Sale of the Week, with hemp buds prepackaged and pre-rolled in joint and blunt format,” Kawczynski said. She plans to expand the Bud Bar with additional strains.

Kawczynski affirmed that CBD’s popularity is testament to people seeking natural options for wellness. As a product that is derived from cannabis sativa and that has just recently become mainstream, there’s still a gray area, and Kawczynski does hear misconceptions about CBD. 

“A lot of people come in and ask if they need a medical card, so the first thing we tell them is that this is CBD, not marijuana,” she explained. “They’re both cannabis, but from different families. You have the hemp, and you have the marijuana.”

Education is a key component to the business, Kawczynski said, and she makes sure there are enough employees available to answer questions. “We don’t want to be too busy where we can’t help people, especially if they don’t know what they’re shopping for,” she said. “CBD, in general has benefits, but there are so many different methods and uses, and we want to welcome and help everybody that comes through the door.” 

CBD oil — apply it to skin, add it to food, or bathe in it. And, yes, you can buy CBD-infused kombucha, too. Photo Tom Grimm

Erth Dispensary has a cooking line, a pet line, a bath and beauty line, edibles, tinctures, smoke, and oils. Bins near the entrance display packaged edibles, mostly gummies, which start at six milligrams and go up to 200 milligrams. Kawczynski recommends those for people new to CBD to learn what works best for them. Near the back of the store, there are higher potency edibles that go up 1,000 milligrams.

A cooking line includes items such as Cannabis Shake, which is pure ground-up stems and leaves that can be used with tea, soups, and smoothies. There’s cannabis seasoning, CBD-infused energy drinks, and LoveBootch Kombucha, a CBD kombucha crafted by a Muskego-based company. Coffee lovers will find Milwaukee-based PhiloCoffia’s CBD-infused bottled espresso shots.

Kawczynski points out the CBD coconut oil, good for cooking or for topical use, which can help relieve psoriasis or dry skin. She noted that people seek CBD products for a wide range of issues. Pregnant women use it to alleviate nausea. She hears from cancer patients receiving chemotherapy who use CBD to help improve their appetites. However, Kawczynski emphasized that CBD does not cure or heal any condition. She said it does help alleviate anxiety, chronic pain, and inflammation-related conditions.

Erth Dispensary also carries CBD honey sticks, throat lozenges, and a line of bath and body products that features soap and bath bombs. A soap maker in Cudahy crafts them using Kawczynski’s own blend. Varieties include Muscle Recovery, Pain Relief, Relax, and Zen. Kawczynski still makes her essential-oil based lotions and bath salts, infused with CBD. 

Pain products consist of menthol thermal patches with 40 milligrams of CBD; CBD balm crafted in what she calls “pain sticks” that are available in three different blends, and roller balls.

People who seek natural relief for ailments, all want the same for their pets. The pet line has two varieties of tincture and also CBD capsules, with additional nutrients such as glucosamine to ease joint and hip pain in elderly dogs. There are also pet treats that can be given as needed to help animals with separation anxiety or to help them relax during thunderstorms or noisy events.

Erth Dispensary also offers a line of non-CBD coffee, condiments, and seasonings made by Not Just Salt & Pepper, a Greenfield-based business run by Tim Novak, a family friend. At a small snack area near the back of the store, customers can sample cookies made by Grandma Bud. 

Customer Robert Hoeppner has been a regular customer since Erth Dispensary opened. He recently learned about CBD and searched online for a source. When he saw that a dispensary was going to open nearby, he stopped in to see what they had. “I use CBD oils to help me sleep,” he said. “I also use CBD products that give you more energy, and I can’t believe how much energy I have after just a couple of days. It helps out a lot.”

A booming industry

Kawczynski is very particular about the companies from which she sources her products. “We like to source locally and test all of our products ourselves,” she said. “We want to offer good quality products to customers, rather than just throwing something out there because the industry is booming.”

Because Wisconsin’s hemp farming industry is fairly new — Wisconsin’s first round of hemp farmers harvested their first crops this past November — Kawczynski sources from established suppliers in Colorado, Florida, and Kentucky. She’s in the process of forging connections with Wisconsin farmers.

Kawczynski said those who would produce or manufacture CBD must be registered, but because she doesn’t produce or manufacture it and just sells it, she was only required to obtain a sellers permit. She keeps reports from all the companies she works with on file. The reports list information about potencies and extraction methods.

“There are no state regulations or licensing, but in this type of industry, you want to make sure you’re doing things correctly. We have one of the best lawyers in the cannabis industry to help us through the steps,” Kawczynski said. “It’s been a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but it’s something I’m passionate about. When we hear that our products are offering relief to people that have been dealing with ailments on a daily basis for 10 or 20 years, it’s really rewarding.”

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