New rules under Ohio’s new medical marijuana law, which takes effect Saturday, will leave some boutique shops and health stores without CBD (cannabidiol) oil. Used for ailments like pain and anxiety, CBD oil is one of their top-selling products.
High Up Head Shop on North High St. is one of the Columbus stores that sells CBD oil derived from hemp. But under the new law, any product with hemp is considered the same as marijuana.
“None of our products are derivative from cannabis in any way, shape or form. They come directly from hemp," says manager Alison Rinehart. "They all have certified insured lab reports behind them as well. There’s no THC content in them whatsoever."
THC is the main psychoactive component of cannabis, and produces the "high" usually associated with marijuana.
Rinehart says she knows there can be confusion about the medical marijuana law.
“CBD can be sold from being derivative from cannabis, so when it comes to that, I think people get very confused and get very scared to purchase,” Rinehart says.
“Under that definition of marijuana in the Ohio Revised Code, there is no exception for hemp," says Board of Pharmacy spokesperson Grant Miller. "Therefore, it still falls under the definition and is considered marijuana here under Ohio law."
Miller says people wanting to buy and use CBD oil will have to get examined by an approved physician for a prescription and then purchase the product through a medical marijuana dispensary. There are 56 dispensaries currently approved around the state, five of which are in Franklin County.
But one day before the September 8 deadline, none of those dispensaries are operational. Some of them could open by the end of the year.
"I continue to be incredibly disappointed in the slow and inefficient rollout of Ohio's medical marijuana program," said Senate minority leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) said in a statement. "It is unacceptable that patients who have been waiting for their quality of life to improve for the past two years will have to continue to wait."
Stephanie Gostomski, of the Ohio Deparment of Commerce, told the Statehouse News Bureau on Thursday that the medical marijuana program was slowed down by lawsuits, as well as weather, equipment delays, building issues and permitting problems. Licensed growers are still in the process of producing the product.
“If CBD oil does continue to be sold illegally, despite us issuing the clarification and the frequently asked questions, we will reassess at that time,” Miller says. “Right now, our chief aim is to make everyone aware of how these things are defined under the revised code.”
Miller says the Pharmacy Board will not clear out store shelves on Saturday.
Some health stores around the state are pulling the products already. WKSU reports that Kent Natural Foods removed CBD offerings after the Pharmacy Board ruling.
"We haven't got any notice or anything like that, but we just don't wanna have any issues," says buyer Mary Jayne Stone. "So we've pulled the products and we just hope that it gets straightened out."
Meanwhile, Rinehart says that High Up Head Shop will keep selling CBD oil unless the state specifically tells them not to.
"If we do have to pull it from the shelves, we'll 100 percent pull it from the shelves," Rinehart says. "We won't continue selling it if this is what they decide."
Columbus Botanical Depot, a Clintonville business, issued a statement telling customers that it will continue selling CBD products as well.