The world of CBD is changing fast, for a number of reasons. Not only are people learning more and more about the holistic considerations of cannabidiolum (CBD), they are also looking to new frontiers – mainly New York State’s ongoing play towards legalizing marijuana.
Recently, I got a chance to taste-test some delicious CBD infused honey at The Stagecoach Market. The honey was the first product to be released by Mike Nicosia and Maria Provenzano, owners of Lions Mane Infusions. Today, Mike and Maria have between 10-12 CBD products that they sell to retailers, while traveling to markets and festivals throughout NYS.
It was originally Mike’s idea to launch Lions Mane Infusions. After injuring his shoulder, he decided not to take pills to ease the pain, as they made him feel like garbage. Instead, he opted to go the CBD and THC route. Realizing the potential of these oft-misunderstood remedies, he attended a medical marijuana conference in NYC. That’s where and when his eyes were opened to the future of the products, and the potential at hand. Mike was already familiar with brand development, the distribution process, and how to launch a product, as he was formerly a liquor rep. That meant that he was also familiar with NYS regulations, and how to cut through the red tape.
“My daughter had Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease when she was young,” Mike told me. “I referred to the doctor, who told me that he was OK with me giving her CBD, and the sores in her mouth disappeared. I began to research how CBD could balance your body without pharmaceuticals.”
“When I first met Mike, I was still in pain from a car accident,” said Maria, who is Mike’s partner in life as well as his business partner. “I took CBD and it helped my neck pains. Then, during the pandemic, my entertainment business was sidetracked, so I decided to jump onboard with Mike, to help him do research and marketing. It was the infused honey that sparked my interest, but then we began thinking about other products, to broaden the potential of the business. We create our products based on personal experiences – our products are designed to help people to combat pain and anxiety.”
Mike and Marie told me that they love attending the events and the markets, because they get to interact directly with customers, many who don’t understand the differences between CBD and THC. This is where the CBD-infused honey tastings come into play. It gives them a chance to tell customers that the honey is sourced from a beekeeper in Lockport, and that the CBD is third party lab tested and GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certified. The more that Mike and Maria can educate people about the products and their applications, the likelier people are to try sample them.
Lions Mane Infusions uses cannabis sourced from New York State licensed farms.
The market is also where Mike and Maria find like-minded makers to collaborate with. Their most recent mash-up was with Nickel City Nitro, where they brewed a CBD honey infused peach blueberry nitro tea (on tap). They have also collaborated with Flat #12 Mushrooms for their Lions Mane CBD mushroom tinctures. The lion’s mane mushroom, considered a “brain booster” mushroom, is said to help with cognitive and memory functions.
Aside from collaborating with marketeers, they are also discussing ways to work with local chefs. They are in talks with Jay Manno from Soho (and head chef JJ Richert), about playing around with a dish such as: Stuffed French toast filled with bananas, and CBD infused honey, topped with the NYS maple syrup, powered sugar, and orange zest.
Then there’s Munch gastropub located inside Froth Brewing and Wingnutz – additional restaurants that are looking into ways of potentially incorporating Lions Mane Infusions products (including a CBD olive oil) into their menus. So be sure to keep a lookout, as these relationships begin to solidify further, into delicious, healing meals.
Mike and Maria try to source as much as they can locally (including hemp) while choosing ingredients that are ethically sourced, chemical free, and fragrance free. They also try to use as much biodegradable packaging as possible, thus creating more sustainable products in the process.
CBD is one thing. THC is another. Mike and Maria feel that they are perfectly positioned to smoothly enter into that new marketplace, as soon as they get the green light. Their production partner is in the process of applying for a conditional Processing and Manufacturing License.
“We are planning on transitioning our products into the adult-use market,” said Mike. “NYS just opened up the application for the Conditional Dispensary License by OCM (Office of Cannabis Management). They are actively setting up meetings, especially in Buffalo, to inform people in the industry, including those in the legacy ‘street’ market to go legit. There will hopefully be a dispensary in Buffalo by the end of the year. Our goal would be to have our products in those shops, as they open.”
While the THC market is a priority, Mike and Maria said that they would continue to sell CBD products, although they might not be able to sell both under the same label. There are a lot of uncertainties at this juncture in time. The rules and regulations are changing as the wind blows.
“Since the MRTA (Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act) passed over a year ago, it’s been a constant adjustment on our end,” Mike explained. “Prior to that, CBD and hemp were under the Department of Health and Department of Agriculture. Now, it’s under OCM. Our packaging and labeling is always changing, to stay compliant. Hopefully things are starting to settle down, and we won’t have to change too much moving forward, but the industry will continue to evolve (in ways that no one can imagine at this point).”
For anyone interested in sourcing Lions Mane Infusions products, you can head to their website, or find them locally at The Kratom Shop, Rustic Buffalo Artisan Market, Nature’s Remedy in Ellicottville, Buffalo Artisan Food Traders, or Smokin’ Joes in Sanborn. You can also find them at places like The Stagecoach Market, where they will be setting up this coming Sunday (9am-1pm). The massage oils are now available at Harlow Spa @ Curtiss Hotel.
Products include blood orange lip balm, massage oil, olive oil, elderberry gummies, mushroom tincture, pet oil (calming, for dogs that are afraid of fireworks), and honey.