A brand-new store will debut on Sag Harbor’s Main Street on Memorial Day weekend, and it just might be the East End’s first shop dedicated to CBD hemp and Chinese herbs. Here comes Dragon Hemp Apothecary.
Owner of the apothecary and the Dragon Hemp line of CBD-based formulas, Kevin Menard, LAc. has been based in Sag Harbor for several years now — operating his sports medicine acupuncture clinic there since 2012. As an acupuncturist, he was able to study the medicinal effects of Chinese herbs and share his findings with clients. Unfortunately, despite the researched benefits, the herbs he recommended to clients weren’t always well-received.
“I am a huge fan of Chinese herbs and use them in my practice, but the problem is, even though they’re super effective, the compliance is really low,” Menard says. “They taste horrible, they have a bad smell, they’re brown, they’re gross.”
By 2018, CBD hemp was well on his radar, and he reports finding great results for anxiety and pain, so he began to experiment blending CBD with his Chinese herbs, and discovered a surprising level of synergy.
“Sometimes the CBD hemp will activate the other herbs, and sometimes the other herbs will activate the CBD hemp,” he explains. “It’s like making a cake — you have all these ingredients that work with each other to make something really special.”
Rebranding as Dragon Hemp last year, Menard teamed up with Hudson Hemp to perfect the formulas for his brand’s three pillars: sleep, recovery and performance. “I’m good with Chinese herbs; CBD hemp is relatively new for me,” he admits, explaining why he wanted to team up with an expert chemist for his product launch.
Now, a little wiser and more researched in the benefits of CBD, Menard looks forward to personally sharing his products with Sag Harbor. He chose the village not only due to proximity and familiarity, but because of the community’s interest in alternative approaches to medicine.
“Sag Harbor is really special, because its kind of a mecca for alternative healing. There are a lot of great yoga studios, Pilates studios … massage therapists,” he says. “There’s a lot going on over there.”
Menard has been an active member of the Sag Harbor community for years — offering free teen clinics and student anxiety support, and working with local soccer and rugby teams — and he didn’t realize at the time that his community work would act as the serendipitous catalyst to opening his Main Street storefront.
“Quite honestly, it was luck. I had been looking for a while; it’s impossible to find any real estate places in Sag,” he says, explaining that one day a real estate friend alerted him to an off-market property that could be his if he could strike a deal with the owner. “I did a lot of work in the community, and he (the owner) kind of liked that, so he put me at the top of the list, and I was able to get the store.”
He continues, “I like to feel like I’m part of the community and to give to the community. Doing as much work — especially with the teens and kids — it’s what it’s all about. To work with the locals and continue to make Sag Harbor even more vibrant on this level means a lot to me.”
His drive to help the community is partly what motivated him to evolve the Dragon Hemp brand with a brick-and-mortar. He already has product on the shelves of White’s Apothecary and Provisions Natural Foods Market, but feels that “there’s a steep learning curve to learn exactly how they work” and to learn what each of the Chinese herbs are used for, and how CBD relates to cannabis, THC, the endocannabinoid system and other terms that many have heard of but few can properly define and differentiate.
“The reason I opened the store is A: It’s an opportunity to educate people on CBD and cannabis, and about all the different health benefits,” Menard says. “And B: The Chinese herbs part. People don’t really know that much about CBD — they know a lot less about Chinese herbs.”
To that end, he intends to turn Dragon Hemp Apothecary — designed by Alfredo Paredes, former CCO at Ralph Lauren — into an experiential space, hosting discussions and tutorials with local practitioners, massage therapists, yogis. Even when a visiting expert isn’t onsite, patrons are invited to peruse, ask, smell and learn before they buy.
“CBD only treats certain conditions; it’s not a magic bullet that treats everything,” he notes. “So I will be extending the type of products I have in there.”
The current Dragon Hemp product line includes organic full-spectrum CBD hemp tinctures, capsules and balms for sleep, recovery and performance. As Menard introduces new forms of formula, such as gummies, and new core ingredients, such as medicinal mushrooms, he’ll be there to help patrons learn all about them.
Visit dragonhemp.com to learn more.