Council Bluffs Police Issue Notice to CBD Retailers

CBD products available for sale at American Shaman, 1517 Farnam St. in Omaha, include dietary supplement tinctures. (Photo by Scott Stewart)

Council Bluffs – Iowa is cracking down on businesses that sell CBD oil without a state medical marijuana permit, reminding them that the products remain illegal.

The Council Bluffs Police Department posted Monday on its official Facebook page that it is distributing a letter by the Southwest Iowa Narcotics Enforcement Task Force to local businesses that sold CBD oils warning them that doing so is against the law.

“You must immediately discontinue the sale of any products containing CBD and remove them from your premise, as possession of CBD products is also in violation of the law,” the letter states.

Lt. Chad Meyers states in the letter that the task force will conduct future compliance checks.

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a chemical compound derived from hemp, which refers to a variety of cannabis plants. CBD products generally contain a trace amount of THC, the psychoactive compound found in much larger amounts in the varieties of cannabis cultivated for marijuana.

CBD proponents say it offers benefits like relieving pain and reducing anxiety. The availability of products in the Omaha metro area has skyrocketed in recent months, and the federal government is in the process of legalizing industrial hemp products.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller issued guidance last month on the legal status of CBD after the Iowa Legislature adopted legislation to legalize hemp products last spring. He said that until the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave approval to the state’s plan, those parts of the new state law are not in effect, so CBD oil remains a controlled substance.

“Any product sold over-the-counter containing CBD or THC technically falls within the definition of marijuana and is considered a Schedule I controlled substance,” Miller said. “When the Iowa Hemp Act becomes fully effective, CBD products containing no more than 0.3% THC will no longer be controlled substances under Iowa law. But this does not mean that all such products will become legal.”

Miller said products marketed with therapeutic benefit claims must still be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in accordance with the federal agency’s current position, and that it is illegal to market CBD or THC products as dietary supplements.

Consumers should be wary of CBD products that are not FDA regulated, Miller said. They could contain contaminants or falsely represent the concentration of chemical compounds, and they could put consumers at risk.

“Distributors of CBD products should also be aware that strict product liability laws make the seller of a dangerous product liable to a person injured by that product, even though the product was manufactured by another entity,” Miller said.

Iowa’s ban on CBD sales doesn’t extend to its legal medical marijuana program, which allows for limited sales at a handful of locations across the state, including at the Have a Heart dispensary in Council Bluffs.

Iowa had 3,261 patients and 537 caregivers with active medical marijuana registration cards as of Aug. 1, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The legal status of CBD oil in Nebraska also remains murky.

Similar to Iowa, the Nebraska Legislature passed a bill legalizing hemp and its products last session, but there’s been no guidance issued since Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson released a memo last November, prior to the legislation, reminding law enforcement that CBD sales were unlawful in Nebraska.

Both Iowa and Nebraska await regulations from the USDA and the approval of their state plans.

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