In 2005, Chris Potratz was deployed in Kuwait. The war in Iraq had already taken the lives of some 2,000 U.S. soldiers, and many of those who returned were plagued with anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain, as Potratz was.
Upon completing his service, Potratz sought relief. He tried pharmaceuticals prescribed by the Veteran Affairs Medical Center, as well as marijuana. Then he discovered cannabidiol, or CBD.
CBD is a chemical derived from the hemp plant. Unlike THC, the famously psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, CBD does not cause a high. It does, however, affect the body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulate appetite, immune system function, pain, stress response and more.
To Potratz’s amazement, CBD products eased his anxiety. They helped him sleep through the night. Finally, he’d found a treatment that fit, and he wanted to give others a chance to experience the same relief he did.
So he opened Greenlight Natural, an upscale CBD product retailer located at 70th and Maple in the Benson neighborhood of Omaha.
“I really wanted to help people, and this store felt like the best position for me to do that,” Potratz said.
A Place Your Grandmother Would Feel Comfortable
When initially conceptualizing his store, Potratz said he asked himself, “Where would my mom or grandma actually go to shop?”
Surprise, surprise: it would not be a place filled with glass pipes, incense sticks and packets of kratom.
In his effort to distinguish Greenlight Natural from the typical CBD retailer (such as “head shops,” gas stations, tobacco retailers, etc.), Potratz created a place that feels like a blend between a day spa and an Apple store: plenty of open space and natural light with soft colors. Everything seems to be geared toward a clean, comfortable experience for Greenlight’s customers.
Potratz offers a wealth of knowledge about CBD, knowledge he eagerly shares. He also spends hours researching and testing products before stocking his shelves.
Since CBD is not regulated by the FDA, he said it can be a challenge to sort through all the products out there. “I do my best to find the highest quality in each category of product.”
And while he knows CBD is no cure-all, he considers it an effective and affordable option for conditions it’s been known to treat, such as epilepsy, anxiety, troubled sleep and pain. He also said it’s important for people to consult their physicians if they have any questions about CBD or how it would affect them, as the compound can have potentially dangerous interactions with certain prescribed medications.
CBD and the Law
The CBD retailed at Greenlight Natural comes from the hemp plant and is legal at both the state and federal levels thanks to last year’s passage of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018.
Although CBD can also be found in the marijuana plant, many people, like Potratz, do not enjoy the high produced by marijuana’s THC component. THC can cause extreme anxiety, nausea, dizziness, rapid pulse and paranoia. CBD cannot produce a high.
Potratz said: “There is a spectrum of opinions about cannabis: one end supports the study and use of cannabis and the other end does not even tolerate the idea. CBD gets caught in the middle.”
He acknowledges the stigma attached to CBD products, as some people do not understand the difference between hemp and marijuana.
“I was very surprised to learn how many people I know are still confused about CBD,” he said.
Under federal law, all CBD products are legal as long as they contain less than 0.3% THC. In Nebraska, Legislative Bill 657 removed the controlled substance classification from hemp and, ultimately, CBD. But as recently as May 2019, people have faced felony charges for selling cannabidiol.
“Clearly,” he said, “there is a need to further the conversation.”
To learn more about the store, visit www.greenlightnatural.com or check out the shop at 7016 Maple St. in Omaha.