PASADENA, MD — Nobody is invincible, not even Nicholas Patrick. Years ago, the Anne Arundel County resident felt discomfort below the belt and decided to get it checked out.
Patrick thought it would be a quick fix, nothing that an antibiotic couldn’t solve. He was wrong.
“When you’re 27 years old, you don’t expect somebody to say the word ‘Cancer’ to you,” Patrick said. “It was a terrifying experience.”
Through that horror, Patrick found a drug that changed his world: CBD. The cannabis-derivative relaxes its users without giving them a high.
The compound helped Patrick claw through chemotherapy and eventually open Pasadena’s newest CBD shop. Before Patrick, now 35, became a multi-store business owner, he had to fight through the pain.
Patrick was diagnosed with stage 2 testicular cancer in July of 2012. The disease knocked him into a scary place. He lived with his mother, had a 5-year-old son and lacked a sense of direction. Patrick was lost.
“I did chemotherapy 6 hours-a-day, 5 days-a-week ,” Patrick said. “It was like a full-time a job.”
The intense regimen gave Patrick frequent nausea. Then, his doctor told him about Marinol, a drug made from marijuana.
The medication worked wonders. Patrick could stomach food again, and he quickly became obsessed with how cannabis interacts with human bodies.
Doctors lifted the weight off Patrick’s shoulders in February of 2013, telling him he was now cancer-free. Patrick got the call while driving back to his home state of New Jersey. He immediately pulled his car over and prayed to God.
“I was going to use it as a launch pad to a completely different season in my life,” he said. “I had a new lease on life, and I wasn’t going to take it for granted.”
Patrick spent the next several years traveling the country as a motivational speaker. He tied his story into tales of personal and business development.
The days on the road made Patrick long for his family. His passion for loved ones and drive to own a business brought Patrick home.
Patrick realized his dreams in January of 2019 when he opened the first location of Embrace CBD Wellness Center with his wife and co-owner, Megan Patrick. By that October, the Glen Burnie shop spawned a sister store in Ellicott City.
The company’s third location, called Embrace CBD Wellness Center & Hemp Dispensary, opened last Thursday in Pasadena. The store will have its ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Northern Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 20
The family business allowed Patrick’s mother to retire and work at the shop. His stepfather also works at store. Patrick’s son, who is now 13, occasionally visits and learns about the uses of CBD.
“It is opening [my son’s] eyes to the possibilities of what somebody can do when they put their mind to it,” Patrick said, explaining what the business means to his family. “I can’t put a price tag on how great it is to be able to work with my wife.”
Though Embrace CBD Wellness Center & Hemp Dispensary brought the Patrick family closer together, the relatively-new CBD industry remains largely untamed. Congress legalized CBD about two years ago with the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, more commonly known as the Farm Bill.
The legislation authorized the use of a cannabis plant known as hemp. This strand of marijuana contains loads of CBD and trace amounts of THC, the chemical that creates a high. Because hemp has less opportunity to impair its users than traditional marijuana, Congress believes the CBD-rich plant is safer.
Though legalized, hemp and its CBD byproducts have seen little regulation. The Food and Drug Administration approved one CBD-derived medicine in 2018, but that’s it. That drug, called Epidiolex, treats two severe forms of childhood seizures.
The agency says the jury is still out on CBD’s safety and medical applications, noting that even Epidiolex can cause liver damage. Proponents say CBD can relieve pain and anxiety. Despite these positive testimonies, the FDA balked at reviewing other CBD products, saying the process could take up to five years.
The legality and underregulation of CBD allowed untested substances to seep smoke shops and gas stations around the country. Many of these workers are not versed in the science of CBD, Patrick alleges.
“It opens the door for bad actors,” Patrick said. “These are the things that happen when you leave an entire industry to self-police itself.”
Patrick and his 31-year-olf wife, who is from Crofton, want to be the changemakers. Though the FDA has not approved any of their products, the Patrick’s claim to have stepped up their own review.
Store employees explain the items to customers, determining which are safest based on their medical history. Workers also consider these factors to suggest appropriate doses.
Patrick admits that doctors know best, but he is correcting the misinformation that shrouds the industry. Some distributors declare that CBD is a miracle, cure-all drug, but Patrick examines cases on an individualized basis.
These professional practices earned accreditation from the Better Business Bureau. The organization has recognized four CBD stores in Maryland. The Patrick’s own two of them.
“This is a cash grab industry right now,” Patrick said. “We want to be the opposite of that.”
Embrace CBD Wellness Center & Hemp Dispensary sells oils, cremes, smokables and gummies. Patrons must be older than 18 or have the company of a parent to enter. Customers have to be at least 21 years old to buy the smokable products.
The store is located at 2608 Mountain Road Suite 2 Pasadena, Maryland 21122. It is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays. The shop can be reached at (410) 616-3588. For more information, head to the business’s website.
Have a story idea? Please contact me at [email protected] with any pitches, tips or questions. Follow me on Twitter @JacobBaumgart and on Facebook @JacobBaumgartJournalist to stay up-to-date with the latest Anne Arundel County and Prince George’s County news.