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Confusion over CBD oil and what's legal when purchasing in stores or online

Users say CBD oil helpful in treating pain

ABC’Ss OF CBD

Medical marijuana is in the news a lot these days, with a compound called CBD, a component of cannabis, and products containing CBD exploding in stores and online. But not much research has been done, so it’s hard to know whether CBD is effective. And laws vary from state to state, so it can also be difficult to know what’s legal. Consumer Reports cuts through the confusion and reveals the ABCs of CBD.

CBD comes from hemp or marijuana. The CBD products sold on most store shelves have little to no THC, the chemical that makes you feel high. CBD is often sold as an oil, a cream, a gummy, or a pill.

There is promising early research showing that CBD can be helpful for conditions such as pain and anxiety. But at this point, it has only been proven to treat epilepsy. The FDA recently approved the first cannabidiol drug in the U.S., Epidiolex, to treat two rare but severe forms of epilepsy.

ABC3340 talked with several local health food stores who says CBD oil is very popular. Many people are using it to treat pain with good results and the cost is much less than prescription medications.

But the legality of the CBD products you can buy online, at a store, or at a dispensary can be confusing. Because the federal government classifies anything that comes from the marijuana plant, including CBD, as a schedule 1 controlled substance, like heroin or LSD, it is illegal at the federal level. But with growing interest in the possible health benefits of CBD, many states have legalized it.

CBD is regulated differently from state to state, even in states where it’s legal, and regulations can get particularly confusing when you’re looking into products that are sold online.

ABC3340 News asked the Alabama Attorney General's office for clarification:

"The possession, use, sale and distribution of CBD oil is illegal according to Alabama law. The narrow exception under Alabama law allows a person to only use or possess CBD oil to treat a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition diagnosed by a doctor."

We also reached out to the Jefferson Co. Sheriff's Office for comment:

"If the substance being sold as CBD oil does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or any other substance deemed illegal by the laws of the state of Alabama there is no legal basis for a seizure."

Last year a study found that only 26 of 84 products that researchers purchased online contained the amount of CBD claimed on their labels. Some didn’t contain any CBD, while others were found to also have THC.

With so much confusion around CBD, there are a few additional steps you can take. First, look for CBD companies within states that have legalized the recreational and medical use of cannabis; these states tend to have stricter standards. Also, some states with medical marijuana laws require testing. Next, look for companies that contract with third-party testers that do additional analysis beyond state requirements. And ask to see a Certificate of Analysis, or COA, that shows the results of testing.

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