Cajun Cannabis

A worker setting up the Cajun Cannabis sign Friday. Located at 3802 Johnston St., Cajun Cannabis hopes to open on April 20.

Cajun Cannabis, a new hemp and CBD shop, is seeking to become the largest premium retailer of its kind in Louisiana despite pressures from state agencies against the sale of the products.

CBD, short for cannabidiol, comes from the hemp plant, which is genetically distinct from marijuana according to the Congressional Research Service, and has no more than 0.3% THC, the chemical in cannabis that gets users high. In Louisiana, CBD currently sits in a legal gray area as federal law now distinguishes between marijuana and hemp, which are both species of the Cannabis sativa plant.

It is in that gray area that Cajun Cannabis owner and founder Travis DeYoung has decided to follow his entrepreneurial dreams and educate the public on the benefits of hemp and sell the products at the same time.

"As of today there are 33 states that have (cannabis) legal for medicinal use, 10 states plus D.C. have it legal for adult use... My issue was that you can't use it, but I have chronic pain and discovered CBD. So I wanted a trustworthy place where you can go get it, but there wasn't one. So I decided to fill that void," said DeYoung, who is an investment adviser by trade. 

Currently, some CBD products can be found in stores like smoke shops and coffee shops across Louisiana. DeYoung said no business around Lafayette focuses on hemp, cannabis and CBD products and he's hoping to become the biggest in the state. He even said he hopes to expand to three stores around Lafayette within a year.

However, the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy and the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control have issued public notices saying CBD is illegal in Louisiana, although law enforcement is unwilling to crack down on it as it has little to do with marijuana and is now distinct under federal law. ATF has said that its license holders, such as bars and smoke shops, will be cited and fined if they sell CBD products.

It was because of these notices that DeYoung said he had trouble finding a home for his new business before finally settling down at 3802 Johnston St. Because Cajun Cannabis is not a pharmacy, bar or smoke shop, DeYoung says the ATC and Board of Pharmacy have no jurisdiction over his occupational license and he is pursuing Saturday as an opening date. 

Some studies have shown that CBD helps with anxiety, depression and insomnia. Some patients have also said it helps manage seizures, curbs nausea caused by chemotherapy. 

"From my own personal experience of going from pretty much a full-blown pharmaceutical addict to being four years sober and clean. It's helped me with pain management and addiction, so I'm stoked they're opening," said Broussard resident Kimberly Millsaps.

DeYoung said he prides himself on transparency and being a place where people know what they're getting and are educated on what products would be best for them. He said he will have lab reports for every product and he will make sure they're triple tested for THC levels above 0.3 percent and other impurities that sometimes arise when manufacturing these products .

"We want to have a platform for education,where people can come and get the right products and have transparency. We're going to have lab reports for every product we sell. They're a industry standard in the cannabis community. I made a spread sheet of every place in Lafayette that sells CBD and they don't have lab reports. We want our customers to know what's in our products and for people to know we sell hemp products," DeYoung said.

Along with CBD oils and gummy candies, Cajun Cannabis also will have CBD-infused bath bombs, lotions, massage oils and balms. Most notably is that almost half of the 2,850 square feet of space will be used for a cafe, which will not only have Reve Coffee and CBD sodas, but a wall that will denote the history of cannabis in America from George Washington and other founding fathers growing hemp to recreations of some of the outlandish propaganda against it during the push for criminalization at the turn of the 20th century.

"Is there a chance we can be cited or paid a visit by somebody? Maybe. But I'm following all the rules. I'm the most transparent cannabis guy in Louisiana — I guarantee it — and at the end of the day no one knows cannabis like Cajun Cannabis," DeYoung said.

Editor's note: This story has been modified to change an incorrect reference to the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control.

Follow Dan Boudreaux on Twitter, @dan_boudreaux