Jim Charon’s path to Syracuse Hemporium, the city’s first licensed cannabinoid retail store, is similar to ones taken by other dispensary founders: after personally experiencing the benefits of CBD products, he wanted to share those benefits with others. “What motivated me most to get into the industry was being able to help people,” he told us recently.
Jim and his wife Stacey are longtime cannabis users and medical marijuana patients. Stacy suffers from fibromyalgia, the mysterious disorder that causes all-over body aches and muscle pain. During a trip to Colorado in 2015, she discovered Apothecanna CBD lotion, which proved effective for treating her symptoms. At about the same time, the Charon’s Rottweiler underwent surgery and she, too was successfully treated with CBD supplements, from Canna-Pet.
Three years later, discouraged by the high prices and limitations of New York’s medical marijuana program, Jim started researching the hemp plant’s second-most-prevalent active ingredient. “I discovered NuLeaf Naturals CBD wellness products and purchased a bottle online since no one sold it locally,” he explains.
Stacey started using it that May and by July, she was able to stop taking her other pain medications.“All the information I had discovered, combined with Stacy’s success with the oil, led me to create Syracuse Hemporium in June,” says Jim.
His hemporium was launched at the Central New York Regional Farmers Market in August 2018 and has been there every weekend since. In 2019, Jim opened a permanent location at 320 Northern Lights Plaza.
“I carry a large variety of CBD oils, pills, gummies, edibles, beverages, vape cartridges, hemp flower and pet products, as well as Delta 8 gummies,” Jim explains. “Current bestsellers include CBD oils, gummies, pet products, hemp flower, and Delta 8 products.”
The customer mix is large and diverse. “The common factor among them is that they’re all looking for relief for themselves, a family member, a friend or a pet. A whole section of the store is dedicated just to pets. We offer CBD oils, pills, treats, hemp ropes and hemp collars,” he says. “I have received some referrals from doctors, but most veterinarians will not give a referral because of American Veterinarian Association guidelines.
“Our store’s simple design with Plexiglas safety walls provides a comfortable and safe environment in which to receive one-on-one compassionate cannabis care,” he adds.
In the past three years, Jim has witnessed a variety of CBD-use success stories. “A customer who received knee injections every year was able to stretch out the time between shots to 16 months. What’s more, the customer is a golfer and was able to walk the course for the first time last year.
“I’ve had customers tell me that they’ve finally been able to sleep through the night, and many say they have pain relief and better mobility using the CBD salve I make,” he continues. “One of my customers uses CBD oil to help their dog who suffers from seizures.”
In addition to serving his customers and dispensing remedies, Jim also spends time educating consumers. The goal is “to remove the social stigma created by the prohibition of marijuana and the war on drugs,” says syracusehemporium.com.
The history of hemp and its different uses over the centuries, and the effects of CBD/hemp versus the effects of marijuana are just a few of the topics he discusses. “The biggest misconception is that people will get high or intoxicated using CBD,” Jim says. “It comes from ignorance, incorrect information, and false propaganda. I also toss in some of the hypocrisy of the federal government.
“For people who are still hesitant about using CBD, I explain that it’s been used for thousands of years,” he adds. “When I discuss its natural benefits compared to prescription medications, most people are amazed.”
Since MRTA was signed into law last March, business at Syracuse Hemporium has increased. “People feel more comfortable buying CBD, hemp and cannabis,” says Jim. “I plan on applying for a cannabis dispensary license since I’m already established as a CBD dispensary.”