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Budding beauty: Cannabis makes its debut in skin care


Moisturizing under the influence. In New York State, the ingredient in this skin-care line could get you arrested.

Apothecanna productsSkin-care products often have a star ingredient. But in New York City, the one in this new line of natural products could get you arrested. That’s because Apothecanna contains cannabis. (The flower oil, seed oil, and plant matter to be exact.)

Apothecanna was founded last year when Brooklynite James Kennedy moved to what he calls the “Bushwick of Denver.” Kennedy, who worked in product design and branding for natural brands such as Aveda, wanted to start a company based on the topical benefits cannabis—a legal possibility in Colorado, but not the Big Apple.

You might be surprised to hear it, but “cannabis is a very versatile plant when it comes to skin care,” says Kennedy, who makes four products with Mary Jane: Body Budder, Super Salve, Lip Buzz, and Pain Creme. They also contain great natural ingredients from nourishing plant-seed oils like rosehip and grapeseed to antioxidants like green tea and acai.

The man behind the marijuana—James Kennedy.
The man behind the marijuana—James Kennedy

To prove its main ingredient isn’t just a gimmick, however, Apothecanna cites studies published in scientific journals that verify the topical benefits of cannabis. Most of the research has centered around cannabinoids, compounds that reduce inflammation.

And topical THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) shows promise as a remedy for acne and dry skin. But Dr. Neil Sadick, a leading NYC-based dermatologist, says the research is not substantial enough yet. “I can’t give an evidence-based opinion on the product,” he says.

Conclusive research or not, you don’t have to worry—moisturizing with Apothecanna will not make you giggle or eat an entire box of cookies. “It won’t get you high,” says Kennedy. “Go ahead, try to smoke a Body Budder. It’s not going to work.”

Even so, federal laws still prohibit the sale of the skin care, except in states where medical marijuana is legal. “There aren’t laws to regulate the topical use of cannabis yet,” says Kennedy.

Cannabis plant
Research has revealed the possible healing properties of the cannabis plant, but more needs to be done

“It’s a hazy territory, to use one of the many bad puns available.” So right now, you can only buy Apothecanna with a medical marijuana card at dispensaries in Colorado. There aren’t even any dealers to our knowledge.

In the near future, Kennedy hopes to take Apothecanna national, starting with states like California, New Mexico, and New Jersey, which have medical marijuana laws. But he’s banking on New York jumping on the medical marijuana bandwagon. “We’re long-time New Yorkers and our ultimate goal is to set up headquarters in New York,” says Kennedy. “As soon as we’re no longer criminals for making our skin-care products.” — Lisa Elaine Held

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