The ABC's of CBD

Updated: Jul 19

At The Coffee Joint in Cornish, Maine, the front windows are large and the sun spills eagerly into the cafe. The space - bright and airy, is filled with various house plants and succulents. The walls are adorned with local art, there are books, and even a few board-games tucked away in cozy nooks. The vintage loveseat is a sweet oasis for a midday break, and if you’d like to hang out and do some work, they also have free WiFi for customers. In this welcoming space, they offer locally roasted coffee, espresso beverages, tea, and gluten-free baked goods.

The Coffee Joint in Cornish, Maine offers coffee by Carpe Diem. Photo by Dasha Smirnova

The coffee they brew is roasted by Carpe Diem, which is a woman-run coffee roasting business located in North Berwick, ME. It is both Fair Trade and organic. It's also delicious and affordable. They offer other local snacks like Grandy Oats Granola, which is made at a solar facility in Hiram; Gutsey Bars that are packed with good ingredients; Tourmaline Spring water; and Maine grown Fox Family potato chips.


Dan Drake owns The Coffee Joint, and Margaret Downing is the cafe manager. Dan has lived in New England most of his life: born in New Hampshire, he’s been in Maine for 10 years, and in Cornish for the last four. He is passionate about rock climbing and loves spending time in nature. He wanted to open a place that supports other local business and gives back to the community. Margaret is new to Maine, but is loving Cornish and is eager to make this town her home; she is also a talented baker and barista. Together, Dan and Margaret are excited to keep growing and expanding the space. Their mission is sweet and simple:

“Our mission is to have a place where the community may meet, gather, and share with one another; regardless of beliefs or walks of life. To offer a place other than work or home to unwind, relax, and share a coffee in a community setting.”

The Coffee Joint is a gluten-free facility, which means they do not have any wheat products in the store or the food prep areas. This is important to people with Celiac’s disease who otherwise have trouble finding a place where they can safely pick up a snack. Don’t worry though, this doesn’t taste like health food! The blueberry muffins, rosemary biscuits, and chocolate chip cookies are among some of my favorites.

Aside from coffee and baked goods, recently The Coffee Joint added an option to add CBD to your coffee. Having heard the buzz about the health benefits of CBD recently, I was curious to try it. The first time I walked in, I shied away from asking - someone else was in the store and it seemed taboo. Eventually, I did ask, Dan and Margaret were happy to inform and answer questions.


I thought it would be good to share what I learned with the community. Dan graciously agreed to the interview, and was eager to share his knowledge and de-mystify their offerings at The Coffee Joint.


Q: Is the coffee joint a coffee shop like they have in Amsterdam? Are people taking cannabis when they get coffee?

A: No, there’s no recreation or medical cannabis consumed on site.


Q:  So, you don’t sell marijuana?

A: No, we do not sell marijuana.


Q: So what if somebody gets a coffee with CBD in it? Isn’t that a cannabis product?

A: Our state law defines hemp products differently than cannabis products. The Department of Agriculture over-sees hemp products and the CDC (formerly known as DHHS) oversees cannabis products.

Q: What is the difference between hemp product and cannabis product?
A: Hemp product is defined as something that contains less than .3% of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. Any hemp/CBD product produced in Maine under the Industrial Hemp Bill (Title 7, Chapter 406-A: Hemp) is not federally illegal in Maine, and even outside of Maine. Unlike cannabis/marijuana, CBD does not have any psychoactive effects.

Q: So what is  CBD oil then?

A: CBD is a cannabinoid called cannabidiol. Cannabinoid is one of many compounds in a hemp plant, but is not specific to just this single plant genome, and can be found also in plants like hops and possibly some other ones. We sell full spectrum hemp extract.


A hemp field in Côtes-d'Armor, Brittany, France, Europe's largest hemp producer. France was the third-largest producer of hemp in the world in 2017.

Q: Does full spectrum mean that there’s THC in it as well?

A: No, it only means that it has other non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBN and CBG, and it also still contains terpenes.


Q: What are terpenes?

A: Terpenes organic compounds of essential oil that are expressed as aromas, so that’s what is responsible for the piney scent of the CBD oil.


Q: How is CBD extracted?

A: It is extracted by various methods using solvents like ethanol and carbon dioxide, and sometimes butane.


Q: What if I don’t want anything that is extracted with butane, how would I avoid it?

A: Some CBD producers label their product as to the extraction methods; it’s generally a guide to ask questions that are important to you.


Q: What does CBD oil do?

A: Although this product is not meant to treat or cure any disease, people take CBD oil to help with symptoms like inflammation, anxiety and depression, and epilepsy. People use it for their pets as well. It has become extremely popular with athletes, and moms looking for a more holistic approach to their physical and mental health.


Editors note: In June of 2018, the FDA approved the first drug comprised of an active ingredient (CBD) derived from marijuana to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy. Read more here.

Q: Since athletes take it, will they test positive for marijuana?

A: No, because drug tests test for THC.


Q: How do I take CBD and how much?

A: There are many different products available on the market. Some people smoke it rolled in a cigarette, vaporize it, or eat it in many different forms. It comes as tinctures and topicals. But here, at The Coffee Joint, is a full spectrum tincture suspended in MCT oil. It's available in many different dosages. Most people start with about a 10mg dose, and that’s what we add to our coffees upon request.

Gluten free muffins are made in a gluten free kitchen.

Q: Do I need a prescription or a medical card?

A: No, the medical card is for people that are taking cannabis under Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program (MMMP).


Q: What about the product you sell at the coffee joint?

A: MCT Oil is used as a vehicle for suspension in the Cultura Hemp Extract that we use the cafe. Cultura is a company whose mission statement is something I appreciate. It is grown organically in Vermont, and is an affordable, high quality product. We did just bring in Maine grown, full spectrum hemp products to support local economy.


Q: Is it organic?

A: Organic Certification by USDA does not yet cover hemp products. MOFGA (the Maine Organic Farmer and Gardeners Association) has started certifying Maine grown hemp.


Q: Are there medical studies on CBD?

A: We are behind on research because there’s been a lack of federal guidelines at the moment.


Q: Where do you get your information?

A: Most of it through leading pioneers in the industry: MCR Labs and Steep Hill Labs.


Q: What resources would you recommend to learn more?

A: CBDistillery, MCR Labs, Project CBD.


I was so glad to have asked these questions, and I learned a lot.


Unfortunately, when I walked in there last time, the CBD products were removed from the counter until further notice. There are still misconceptions about CBD products and how they are different from recreational marijuana. We are learning together and, thankfully, we have people in the community willing to talk about it and help us learn about what is going on. It is a learning process, and (though there are many other shops in the state that sell CBD) there’s no concrete precedent to model after. So if you have questions, go see Dan and Margaret; they are eager to share their knowledge and if they don’t know the answer they’ll be happy to find it with you.


All else considered, CBD add-on is simply another option for your morning cup of coffee or tea. It is up to you to decide if you like that kind of thing, and the good news is that there’s still cream and sugar at The Coffee Joint if that’s what you prefer!


By Dasha Smirnova