By Casey Verderosa
For Sarah Robarge and her husband Brian, the drive behind founding their own CBD oil business, IthaCannabis, was personal. Three and a half years ago, Sarah was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease which attacks the nervous system. Robarge was taking up to 14 medications daily to control pain and seizures and, in her words, “had fully embraced western medicine.”
Her lowest point came during Christmas of 2017 when Robarge came down with shingles. A painful experience for anyone, contracting shingles was doubly so for Robarge as it also affects the nervous system. “It was devastating,” she said. “I honestly thought at that point that I was on the verge of being completely disabled at the age of 38.”
A friend from Colorado mailed her a bottle of CBD oil to see if it could help. “I didn’t have a lot of expectations,” she said. “When you have MS people send you all kinds of things.” But Robarge’s experience with CBD oil was transformative. She reported that within two days, all of her seizure activity was gone and after eight weeks so was most of her pain.
It isn’t only people suffering from MS whom Robarge believes will benefit from CBD oil – she asserts it can help manage stress, act as an anti-inflammatory, and assist with many other emotional and physical ailments associated with the nervous system.
In CBD oil, Robarge had found something that worked for her, but accessing it posed another challenge. Importing it from Colorado was expensive and she couldn’t access a quality product locally. The Robarges were unusually well-suited to make their own product. Sarah’s background is in biology and Brian’s is in beer making, which uses similar extraction techniques, so they developed their own hemp-rich, high quality CBD oil.
They’re diving into an industry that’s now emerging on the national stage and have looked to Rev for guidance. “The legalities of the world of cannabis seem to change by the day and by who you talk to,” said Robarge. “We wanted a resource to be able to educate ourselves, be leaders in the industry, and survive what’s going to be an explosion in the industrial hemp world.”
As they join Rev, IthaCannabis is hiring a regional sales manager. The company is also looking to connect with more local farmers growing hemp to provide them with guidance and support in finding processors and markets for their products. One motivation behind the Robarges’ work with local farmers is the intention to reinvigorate the family farm in New York State.
Robarge sees the company growing into a national brand. “The most exciting part right now is being able to facilitate the growth of this industry in a meaningful and impactful way,” she said.