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New ‘Paper & Leaf’ hemp company opens in Kent

DeArrius Gleaves
LED display outside of Kent’s new hemp shop, Paper & Leaf, on Jan. 27, 2024.

With three locations across the northeast, Paper & Leaf’s fourth location, co-owned by Dave Keller and Shane Carter, opened in Kent on Jan. 18, offering a “reputable, trustworthy experience” to purchasing hemp-derived THC products.

“We’re here to educate you on what these products are, we’re not here to just sell it to you,” store manager Rachael Sage said. “We believe in the product and all of us are experienced users.” 

The concept of Paper & Leaf, located at 168 Cherry St., was motivated by Keller’s late brother.  

“Who found significant relief with cannabinoids for a great number of mental stresses including social anxiety, ADHD and depression,” Keller said.

Twenty years ago, Keller initially “passed significant judgment” on his brother’s choices to use cannabinoids due to the war against drugs. But he saw opportunity after the implementation of The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, otherwise known as the 2018 Farm Bill, to allow access to the products and help others avoid judgment he had shown in the past.

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 “authorized the production of hemp and removed hemp and hemp seeds from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s schedule of Controlled substances,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website. The USDA is directed to issue regulations and guidance to hemp related programs throughout the United States under this bill.

Paper & Leaf is now open in Kent, Ohio as of Jan. 27, 2024. (DeArrius Gleaves )

“Every product we offer has a lab certification verifying contents, and are almost exclusively sourced directly from the manufacturer in an effort to assure purity and potency in everything we sell,” Keller said. “Our stores are organized in a fashion specifically tailored to assist customers in finding the right products for them.”

From 2023 to 2030, the global recreational and medical cannabis market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 34.03%.

“It’s cool to watch the world change and to educate people so they understand where the benefits are recreationally and medicinally,” Sage said.

Owners and employees at Paper & Leaf aim to assure that individual experiences are custom tailored to patron needs, no matter what their current familiarity with THC is, according to Keller.

“The purpose of all of our bud tenders is to educate and help ensure someone is not walking out of the store with something uneducated,” Sage said. “We will guide you through your experience, educate you as much as possible and help you understand how it compares to something at a dispensary, so you can utilize every product to give you the experience you’re looking for.”

Paper & Leaf sets up product tables at Kent State hockey games and open skate nights at the university’s ice arena, immersing themselves into the student population.

“Everyone has been very welcoming,” Sage said. “The student population is so cool there.”

Animal studies and self-reports suggest CBD may help people with anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, inflammation, arthritis and addiction but may cause side effects including nausea, fatigue, irritability, increased blood thinning and abnormal liver related issues, according to Harvard Medical School.

Medical cards are not needed, but all customers must be 18 years or older with valid identification to purchase at Paper & Leaf. Some products may state 21 years or older on packaging due to it being manufactured in states such as California, according to Sage.

Paper & Leaf’s official ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially announce their new location to the public is scheduled at 5 p.m. March 1.

The owners are working toward opening a fifth location in Johnson City, Tennessee.

“I saw an opportunity to enter a market that I knew would be flooded with bad actors in a short period of time and sought to offer a reputable, trustworthy experience to hopefully allow access to these products via upscale shopping experience with reasonable price point,” Keller said. 

Lauren Bischof is a beat reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

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    T KingFeb 11, 2024 at 5:48 pm

    What are the store hours? 😉 Thanks!!