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4/20 finds cannabis businesses turning over a new leaf

A local CBD dispensary will open a new location on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall just in time for April 20, what’s become a national celebration day for cannabis culture.

When Greener Things CBD Dispensary opens its second location at 10 a.m. on Thursday at 407 E. Main St., it will be one of five similar businesses in a two-block area downtown. As more people in Virginia and across the country are adopting cannabis derivatives for medicinal and recreational use, several local shops say they are helping customers educate themselves about the different products and their proper applications.

Proprietors say that customers tend to seek CBD products for therapeutic self-care and THC products for recreational use. Patients with a variety of conditions buy the derivatives in hopes of finding pain relief and sounder sleep. Cancer patients and others with serious illnesses often try the products to combat the nausea and inflammation that accompany the ailments themselves — or their treatment regimens. Still others seek sharper focus or relief from anxiety symptoms.

“We use more of a West Coast dispensary style,” said Elle Packard, associate director of creative projects for Greener Things. “We do believe in the therapeutic value of the cannabis plant. We offer a very patient-focused, customer-focused approach.”

Packard said Greener Things doesn’t treat cannabis products “like a beer. We don’t just give [customers] a product off the shelf, but make sure it fits their needs.” It’s important for people to check in with their primary care physicians first to make sure the products won’t conflict with other medications, she said.

“We often have customers looking for something they’ve heard about,” Packard said. “We’re actually guiding them toward a product that meets their needs.”

Some patients with pain issues in muscles and joints ask for topical products, such as creams, Packard said, adding, “Topicals are fantastic for people who don’t want to ingest a cannabis product.”

The new Greener Things location will offer some free gifts to the first 42 customers on Thursday, and there will be a variety of discounts in honor of 4/20.

Customers often walk into dispensaries requesting products they’ve read about, or that friends have recommended. Skooma manager Kenneth Townsend said it’s important to listen to customers’ needs and find out what they’re trying to treat before ringing up purchases.

“Our customer service” sets Skooma apart, Townsend said. “We try to ask customers why they are asking for a certain product, whether it’s recreational or medicinal,” he said.

At Skooma, which has been on the Downtown Mall since July 2021, employees are required to complete online training about the different products and their applications and pass exams so they can offer customers sound guidance. And to folks for whom a steady diet of movies and media have reinforced a tie-dyed stereotype of befuddled customers draped in love beads, Townsend said the actual clientele might come as a surprise.

“It’s not like it was 10, 20 years ago, when it was underground,” Townsend said. “The majority of our patients are middle-aged to elderly.” Many are looking for pain relief for chronic conditions or more restful sleep, and “they’re trying to move away from medicines,” he said. “They don’t want to take more medications with side effects.”

“I have gotten some pretty unique questions,” he said. “My best advice for that is to check with your primary health physician.”

Skooma also will have a presence at the second Virginia 420 Fest, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Thursday at Misty Mountain campground resort in Greenwood.

There will be musical performances by Pete Turpin Band at 10:30 a.m., Karlee Ray Band at 12:15 p.m., Christian Q and The Groove at 2 p.m., Chief GreenBud and Dennis Drummond at 3:45 p.m. and Rare Form Band at 5:15 p.m. A laser show will be part of the Dark Side Experience at 8 p.m.

Mark Herer, son of cannabis activist Jack Herer, will be master of ceremonies and educator for the event. Guests can take classes in cannabis plant care, cooking with cannabis and other topics. The event, with admission priced at $50, is for ages 21 and older. Details are available at

Back on the Downtown Mall, at Sweet ReLeaf customers can find a comfortable environment and a wide product range, including crystals, crystal jewelry, incense and cold drinks, employee Ella Banks said.

“We’re different in that a lot of folks say, ‘I love this place. It’s a totally different vibe,’” Banks said. “You develop friendships.”

An upstairs lounge gives customers a space to try products, and the staff welcomes “LGBTQ and everything else,” Banks said. “We really try to have something for everyone and put customers first.”


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