Cannabinoid Creations helps pioneer the non-THC marijuana extract CBD in drinks.

By Stuart Thornton  |  Photos courtesy of Cannabis Creations

The 2017 Nightclub & Bar Show in Las Vegas unleashed booths promoting adult toys like customized beer pong tables and confetti bazooka cannons to rapt and rave reactions from hospitality industry professionals. But one of the most popular booths in the Las Vegas Convention Center was publicizing something that drew more enthusiasm than the more fiery showcases: tasty hemp sodas containing cannabinoids, or CBD, a legal compound cousin of THC that studies have shown deliver medicinal benefits.

The sodas poured by Cannabinoid Creations at the Nightclub & Bar Show included Cartoon Cereal Crunch, which somehow duplicates the taste of a sugary cereal drenched in milk, and High Tide HoneyDew Melon, which enjoys a refreshing, lightly fruity taste that works well in vodka cocktails.

Michigan-based Cannabinoid Creations was founded and remains owned by Scott Leshman, a leader in the CBD industry and the first to market a hemp soda for national distribution. Leshman’s desire to create CBD products was spurred by his own debilitating injury. In 2006, Leshman, a former Division 1 soccer player at Western Michigan University, cleared his throat, which miraculously ruptured a disc in his back and caused painful sciatic issues.

For months, Leshman was prescribed 7,500 milligrams of Vicodin a day. “I wasn’t happy being on them,” he says of the pills. “They really didn’t provide me any relief at all.”

After seven months of pain and pills, Leshman smoked a bowl of marijuana and discovered immediate relief.

“How can I put all of this into a pill and make it like Advil?” he asked himself. “So you are not in left field—and still remember the conversation we’re having without the pain—that is really what led me on the path to cannabinoid therapeutics.”

CBDs are unlike cannabis in that they do not give users a high. Rather, proponents of CBDs maintain that the compound helps with pain management, while counteracting anxiety and inflammation. At this time, there have been few scientific clinical studies to back these claims.

Leshman has all the evidence he needs given the discovery of CBDs changed his life. “I never took any opioids ever again,” he says.

In 2014, Leshman launched Cannabinoid Creations. The company receives hemp extractions from Europe and then infuses it into their products, including the popular sodas and hard candies, chocolates and vape products. New items at the Nightclub & Bar Show included a CBD simple syrup and a hemp-infused bottled water.

Leshman notes that consumers may feel mellowed out by his products, but never high. “It’s actually the anti-high,” he says of CBDs. “For people who took too much THC or too much of an edible, you actually take CBD, and it brings you back level—kind of like a teeter totter.”

For the uninitiated, he offers some guidance. “The easiest way to describe having CBDs is like taking prescription relaxers [without the addictive side effects],” Leshman says. “It is going to be chill.”

CBDs are also said to have a special benefit that may appeal to those who enjoy imbibing cocktails and craft beers.

“It helps people with hangovers,” Leshman says. “If you have a hangover or if you have it [CBDs] while you are drinking, you are going to end up feeling better the following day.”

Having had to use CBDs to remedy his own pain, Leshman provides his company’s own quality control.

“I am a patient first and foremost, so if it doesn’t work for me,” he says, “and I would never put my name on it or put it on the market.” >

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