Up the street from the Minnesota Twins home opener, a different kind of debut took place: The first storefront dedicated to hemp and CBD products in downtown Minneapolis opened.
During the opening celebration of Stigma, a new shop at 250 3rd Av. N. in the North Loop, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey expressed his support for the rapidly growing industry and renewed his push to legalize cannabis statewide.
"This is going well, this is a business that's sticking around for the long haul and yes, indeed, we are continuing on the track toward full legalization, as well," Frey said.
Frey has supported statewide legalization and decriminalization of cannabis throughout his time in City Hall. As a council member, he co-authored an ordinance lowering the penalties for small-scale possession of the drug from a misdemeanor to a petty misdemeanor.
Earlier this month, Republicans in the Minnesota Senate swiftly voted down a measure to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. Citing public support, Frey said he hoped full legalization will happen within the next few years.
"As we legalize, we need to make sure that the benefits are seen broadly," he said. "This can be an important industry that contributes greatly to our economy in a way that is inclusive."
Unlike cannabis, hemp and CBD can't get anyone high. But consumers are turning to the products for a number of health concerns, despite a lack of research into their effectiveness.
St. Louis Park resident Josh Maslowski founded Stigma in 2018 after a friend and his mother-in-law were diagnosed with cancer. While looking for natural treatments online, he came upon hemp and CBD.
"We got passionate about the idea of being able to help people in a world right now where stresses are up and disease is up and all that," he said. "We're looking at this as a supplement or another alternative option for people to just try to make themselves feel better."
Stigma now sells products such as oils, creams and joints using plants grown regionally.
Maslowski acknowledged the CBD industry is not properly regulated nationwide, leading some sellers to market products with inaccurate contents. He said having a storefront allows customers to ask questions about the products and build trust with the company.
"We're here to be transparent," he said.
His wife, Sarah Maslowski, was skeptical of CBD at first. Now, she consumes CBD extract to relax before flying and in the mornings before her workouts.
She has since gotten several of her friends interested in the products. Her mother, Susan Graner, who was diagnosed with brain cancer, also consumes CBD as a pain reliever along with medical cannabis.
"I hope people will take a moment to learn more about it," she said. "I like the idea, for a consumer, that it might take away a pill and it will bring health to them."
Along with Frey, Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson was also present at the opening.
Frey called the opening of Stigma "a big step forward for Minneapolis" in normalizing the use of cannabis products.
"You can't ignore the real life impacts that CBD has on people, and I'm proud to say that we aren't," he said.