BUDDING BUSINESS: Syracuse Hemporium looks to educate people on CBD, navigate businesses through new industry


hile on a trip to Colorado in 2015, Jim Charon was looking for cheaper medicinal options for his chronic shoulder pain. Although he didn’t know much about it, Charon decided to give CBD a try, which ultimately helped him towards recovery.

Once he returned home to Syracuse, he started to educate himself as the cannabis industry developed. He began to understand how CBD products can provide a form of relief for injured people, without needing to pay high medical expenses. After a few years of experiencing CBD’s benefits, Charon decided to take the next step and open a business of his own.

“I’ve been building the business to help people understand what the products are and breaking the stigma behind cannabis and hemp products,” Charon said.

Charon is the founder and owner of Syracuse Hemporium, a licensed CBD retailer in Syracuse. Since opening the business in 2018, he’s focused on selling quality and affordable CBD and hemp products, helping other businesses enter and navigate New York’s cannabis industry and educating people on what the products can do.

To further his educational mission, Charon will be hosting an event celebrating 4/20 on Thursday, where customers can enjoy the products of different cannabis vendors and connect with other members of the cannabis community.

Charon started the business at a local farmer’s market, where he could connect with people on a personal level and educate customers on what his products could do, all without having to pay for advertising. His number one goal is to help customers buy the best products for themselves and explain how CBD products differ from other forms of medication.

“With the CBD products, the most important thing is (that) it’s the health benefits without the high, so that’s where it’s not the same as marijuana or cannabis,” Charon said.

As the cannabis industry is still relatively new in New York, getting the proper authentication to legally run a business like Charon’s is quite a lengthy process, he said. Charon said that there are a lot of strict rules and regulations he must follow.

“With the cannabis industry, you’re looking at so much compliance that you got to make sure you’re taking, and dotting the Is and crossing the Ts from the beginning to the end,” said Charon.

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Joe Rossi —a cannabis practice group leader at Park Strategies, a top lobbying firm in New York State — has worked on the legal side of cannabis in central New York since 2018. He represents the Cannabis Association of New York, an organization in which Charon is the central New York committee chair.

As part of his job, Rossi advises and assists people as they enter the CBD industry. He explained that as people continue to get into the New York cannabis industry, it is very important for them to follow the different guidelines that have been put in place by the state government.

Rossi specifically cited the New York Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), which created the Office of Cannabis Management that issues licenses and develops regulations on how and when businesses can participate in the industry.

As the industry continues to expand — both across New York and the whole country — Rossi knows that there will be a lot of complications, but said that those who are truly passionate about cannabis will find success in the industry.

“It’s a rollercoaster. There’s ups and downs, twists and turns that you can’t see and come out of nowhere, and you just got to roll with it,” Rossi said. “I think the folks that will be passionate about the plant can help create this legal cannabis industry.”

Crystal Guess, a senior account executive at cannabinoid wellness company NuLeaf Naturals, has been working with Charon since he started Syracuse Hemporium to educate people about CBD products. One of the reasons people have a negative opinion about CBD, she said, is ignorance of how CBD products can act as medication.

For the CBD industry to continue to grow and to have customers coming back, Guess said that retailers also need to be properly educated on how to market the products. Specifically, she said that it’s very important to be able to explain exactly what CBD does to people’s bodies.

Guess said that many people think that CBD products can be used as needed like Band-Aids, however that is not the case. Proper usage and dosage are extremely important to explain when teaching people about CBD.

Consistency is key when taking CBD products for medication, Guess said. She compared the effectiveness of CBD over time to that of toothpaste — investing in a high-quality CBD product will have the same long-term effectiveness as investing in a high-quality toothpaste will have.

If people use CBD to help recover, Guess said, they won’t see results after a few days, but after consistent use, the effects of CBD can really take hold.

“(It’s a) miracle over time, not overnight. Consistency is key,” Guess said. “And usually, people start seeing the really good benefits of it, (in) minimum at least five to seven days after they start consistently taking the product, and then the miracle starts to happen.”

Charon said he would like to continue operating Syracuse Hemporium as a CBD retailer and will apply for a dispensary license once those are made available in New York state. He hopes that when cannabis sales become fully legal, it will be easier for people to learn about how the products can help.

“What I’ve been trying to do is build the cannabis community in central New York,” Charon said. “And (the 4/20 event) is another way to help unite the community.”


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