Ohio’s hemp legalization opens door to even more sales.
CANTONÂ Water, chocolate, pet treats. You name it, and CBD has probably been added to it.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. It’s often sold as a hemp extract with little to no THC, a psychoactive compound.
The Ohio legislature in July agreed to regulate hemp â€” a stalky cannabis plant with low THC harvested for fiber and seeds â€” as an agricultural crop and allow retail sales of the plant’s popular CBD extract.
The state’s change of stance led to the establishment of a Purely CBD shop in Canton and the return of CBD products at the Raisin Rack Natural Food Market. CBD products continued to be widely available online and in local stores despite an Ohio Board of Pharmacy statement last fall about the illegality of such sales.
Raisin Rack Owner Don Caster previously told The Canton Repository Canton and Westerville stores removed “thousands of dollars” of inventory to comply with the law. He said employees began restocking hemp-based products from “highly regarded” companies in the past three weeks.
“I’m just very glad that the state looked at it and understood the difference between marijuana and hemp,” he said. “I think that’s been a misunderstanding for a long time.”
Ohio, previously one of the few states without a legal hemp market, categorized hemp the same as the intoxicating cannabis plant and, therefore, only allowed CBD sales under the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program. Federal farm bills in recent years allowed states to establish industrial hemp programs and recognized the plant as a commodity instead of a controlled substance.
Lance Jones, owner of the Purely CBD affiliate, said he closely followed the state’s actions while preparing the “boutique” dedicated to CBD products at 3524 Tuscarawas St. W. He wanted to wait until CBD was legal.
“That’s why I didn’t open,” he said. “I’ve had the lease here for two months now.”
Signs were installed this week, and the store will open Monday. Jones said he is excited to be a “pioneer” in Stark County with a shop solely focused on CBD.
He decided to enter the industry after seeing friends succeed with shops elsewhere and hearing testimonials about the benefits of CBD.
“The CBD boom is very real,” Jones said. “The effects that CBD has on your body is very real, and so it’s not surprising.”
Such products often are used to relieve anxiety, pain and other ailmentsÂ â€” regardless of U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulation. The federal agency has stated it is evaluating policies related to cannabis-derived products.
In June 2018, the FDA approved a CBD solution by the name of Epidiolex for the treatment of two rare forms of epilepsy. The approval followed three clinical trials involving 516 patients who had fewer seizures when Epidiolex was added to their medications, according to the FDA. Side effects included lethargy, diarrhea, (generally mild) liver injury and other discomforting conditions.
With limited scientific studies on CBD’s effects on humans, most of its touted health benefits are based on anecdotal evidence, Jones acknowledged. But he said he’s personally experienced the stress-relieving qualities of a CBD-infused gummy.
“We know that it helps,” Jones said.
The shop, nestled between a tanning salon and a bank in the commercial strip mall, sells primarily Purely CBD-branded products. They include tinctures, gummies and other supplements â€” from THC-free up to the legal 0.3% THC limit.
Purely CBD provides dosing guidelines based on weight, Jones said. Two sales associates will staff the store, which will be open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
Jones said he’d like to open 10 shops within a year and has signed a lease for a location in Kent. He’s driven by the desire to bring a “holistic and natural” option to customers.
“This is about helping the community,” he said.
The state’s legalization of hemp poses a new challenge for law enforcement officers and prosecutors.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) previously used microscopic and color testing to identify cannabis without taking THC content into account.
“We currently don’t have the capability to do that,” said Steve Irwin, a spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
State laboratories now must update testing procedures. Irwin said methods to measure THC content are being developed at labs in Richfield and London.
BCI advised prosecutors in an Aug. 1 letter to suspend traditional cannabis testing and not indict anyone until THC quantity can be tested. It could take “several months” to develop a method, according to the letter. A backlog of cannabis-related cases is expected once testing begins.
Irwin said agencies are welcome to send material to private labs with the ability to conduct such tests. Earlier this month, Attorney General Dave Yost announced the Major Marijuana Trafficking Grant Program for law enforcement agencies with large cannabis cases.
“We would pay for the testing of that by a lab that can currently quantify the levels of THC,” Irwin said.
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