In June, 2018, the first ever Connecticut location for Florida-based Sunflora selling CBD (Cannabidiol) product under the SunMed brand was opened in Milford by Clayton Percy, a New London native and the company’s franchise director for North America, and Jillian Shipchack, a Milford native and events coordinator for the business. “Since opening in Milford a little more than six months ago, we have served more than 4,000 customers,” Percy says. “I can't even put into words what we've seen as far as results from our customers. Our very first week, I can remember seeing customers come in — 5,7,10 people at a time — with various issues and seeking information and a place to tell their story of what they were fending off. We open at 10 a.m. and we would pull up to a storefront to see customers lined up at the door, and we stayed open well past our closing time so we could accommodate everyone.”

Today the company boasts 22 Connecticut locations (with ten leases pending), including East Lyme (also started by Percy and Shipchack), as well as outlets in Danbury, Fairfield, and Greenwich, and Norwalk, among others, launched by other owners, several of which are actual Your CBD Store customers who believed in the product so much that they decided to open their own store.

“We’re now the largest brick and mortar CBD outlet in the world,” Percy states, “with 600 locations in the U.S. and also stores overseas.”

What are the company’s origins? Florida native Rachael Quinn was suffering from Crohn’s Disease and looking for a way to simply feel better when she turned to CBD, a phytocannabinoid discovered in 1940, to help combat the debilitating effects of her illness.

Quinn, a wife, mother, and business owner, decided to research industrial hemp, the ‘sister cannabis plant’ made legal by the passing of the 2018 Hemp Bill, which states that all industrial hemp-based products lower than 0.3% in THC could be farmed and sold in the U.S.

Quinn and her husband, Marcus, recognized that not only was CBD helping Rachael, but they quickly realized that there was an opportunity to not only help others understand the misconceptions around cannabis and also to create a space where others could feel comfortable learning about the human endocannabinoid system and the possible benefits of this new plant science that was emerging rapidly.

Consequently, the couple opened their first store in Bradenton, Fla. in 2018. The stores typically resemble dedicated wellness spas but offer a natural alternative to more formal pharmaceutical treatments of many medical conditions, diseases, and illnesses, according to the company’s website. CBD has been in clinical tests nationwide, including studies in Connecticut, but without approval yet from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, sellers can’t make medical claims, although many satisfied customers have offered testimonials.

The company’s products come in various forms and levels to meet each customer’s needs and preferences, according to the Your CBD Store website. Customers can choose from water-solubles, edibles, tinctures, soft gels, and topical applications, and the company even offers tinctures and treats for pets, with the pet products intended to be used as an herbal supplement. “You should consult your doctor before you quit taking any medications with the intention of replacing them with the natural and holistic option of hemp,” the website states.

“We’re technically a plant science company,” Percy explains, “as we do all of our own formulation in-house led by Dr. Anthony Ferrari, PhD. “We operate the farm where the product is grown, and we do the extraction and the formulation process.”

The product comes from USDA registered farms, and is extracted and formulated in SQF Level 3 FDA registered labs, according to Percy, who notes the impact that Your CBD Stores have on the communities of which they are a part. “Our mission was to educate the masses on the misconceptions around the cannabis industry, specifically hemp-derived products made legal by the newly adopted 2018 Farm-Bill,” he explains. “Most people don't know that not all CBD products are the same, or that we are discovering new compounds besides CBD in U.S.-grown industrial hemp plants. We want our customers to be comforted in knowing that we are there to partner with them in their journey to living better with healthy extracted CBD.”