Did Ohio Really Just Ban CBD?

CBD products are available in stores and online in most states across the US. CBD is offered in vape juices and edibles for sufferers of myriad problems, including anxiety, depression, and even epilepsy. This year, the FDA approved the first CBD medication for rare forms of epilepsy in children. Even convenience stores and grocers in states like Ohio are starting to carry CBD products. Businesses cite the 2014 ‘Farm Bill’ as precedent for legal sale.

Last week, however, Ohio state officials announced that cannabidiol is illegal in their state, local sources report. The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy issued guidance clarifying that only state-licensed dispensaries are allowed to carry CBD oil and other products derived from either hemp or marijuana. Dispensaries in Ohio are months away from opening, however. Currently, any retailer carrying CBD products in Ohio is technically breaking the law.

Officials Clarify Cannabis Law

Ohio’s medical marijuana law passed in 2016, but Ohio still has no pilot program for its medical marijuana licensees. In June of just this year, the Pharmacy Board issued a total of 56 provisional licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries. Those businesses have six months to build their facilities and ensure they meet all federal and state requirements.

Medical marijuana can be prescribed by a specially-certified physician for one of 21 different medical conditions, according to state legislature. Retailers offering CBD products in Ohio since they have begun to trend have no certification or legal standing to sell, as none of the dispensaries is also a gas station or grocery store.

In Ohio, all parts of the cannabis plant, including the stalks and fiber, are considered illegal for use. The state’s stance on cannabis includes industrial hemp CBD. Officials released their statement after some of the licensees asked if dispensaries were allowed to carry similar products as those seen in other stores. Spokesperson Ali Simon gave them a flat no. She cited Ohio’s marijuana legislation to clarify their position.

Products Must Be Regulated and Tested

One of the board’s biggest concerns came from the unregulated nature of current CBD products on offer in grocers and gas stations. “All products must have a known source, as well as known quantities of active ingredients,” the board explained. Their recommendation echoes FDA labeling requirements for products like CBD oil.

The state also announced that specific laboratories “licensed by the Ohio Department of Commerce” are the only ones allowed to conduct product tests. Products that meet these standards are the ones that will be made available in state dispensaries, once they open. Unregulated products pose at least potential buyer’s remorse, if not more serious consequences.

Retailers and Consequences

Retailers face similar potential blow back. The board’s spokesperson, Simon, claimed she has not heard of any arrests or criminal charges in the matter, yet. Anyone caught in violation of state legislature may be subject to “administrative or criminal action,” according to their statement. Earlier this year, two Ohio businesses caught dispensing CBD products were issued cease and desist letters, and surrendered their inventory to major crimes investigators. Had they not cooperated, authorities told business owners they would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

An employee at one of the two busted shops voiced her frustration: “You’re helping people,” she told the Lancaster Eagle Gazette after the incident. “No one’s getting high from these products. There’s no hallucinogens in it. I have nurses come in and get it for people that they take care of and for their families. It helps with so many things.” Their supplier also claimed the products are legal in all 50 states, which is patently untrue.

Stay Educated and Stay Safe

A number of hemp CBD manufacturers default to the 2014 Farm Bill as their defense, but the bill allows only universities and research groups to grow and cultivate CBD under an established state pilot program. While a number of states have since designed programs and written legislation to accommodate CBD manufacture and sale, not all 50 US states have done so.

It is equally important for retailers and consumers to know their local and state laws regarding CBD. The FDA has classified CBD as a Schedule I drug, just like its psychoactive counterpart, THC. Regardless, states are drawing up or modifying their own cannabis legislation to account for the rampant growth of the CBD industry. And, with an officially-sanctioned CBD drug about to hit market, federal authorities may soon have to rethink their position on CBD as well. Until then, be sure only to buy CBD products from reliable sources who include or can provide ingredients lists, and check local laws before buying.

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