CBD oils seized in the state of Alaska

February 20, 2017 Brenda Craig
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Photo credit: Levi Brown

Controversy has sparked in the marijuana community. On Feb. 9, Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office raided all marijuana retailers in Alaska of CBD oils. Cannabidiol, known as CBD, is a non-psychoactive substance that gives the medicinal properties of cannabis without being high. CBD is extremely low in tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that causes a euphoric high, which allows consumers to get the medical purposes of marijuana without the effects.

According to the Alaska Marijuana Regulation, the CBD products were from out of state and were not packaged and labeled correctly, which violates the state’s law. Sara Chambers, director of AMCO, wrote in a press release that marijuana retailers selling the CBD products did not go through the states testing and packaging requirements. This led to AMCO confiscating all the unapproved CBD oils from licensed marijuana retailers.

The removal of CBD oils has left many Anchorage residents confused on the situation when federal law allows oils with low THC concentrations.

“Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office are majorly suspect for taking away the vape kids means of getting high, especially when CBD oils are federally legal,” Jeremy Locke, Anchorage resident, said. “They should have worked toward getting the amendments to the law, or at least reimbursed the retailers.”

Many individuals rely on CBD oil to self-medicate and because there is no protection on the oils, they are left without it.

“CBD oil provides many wonderful medicinal effects associated with it and AMCO is denying patients medication that, in many cases, affects their quality of life significantly,” Zach Lestenkof, civil engineering major, said. “I think the AMCO seizing CBD oils is ridiculous and I believe there should be legislation to protect the sale of CBD. I believe that current legislation should protect marijuana concentrates as well as industrial hemp oils.”

Before the raid, Sam Ingram, lead register at Alaska Fireweed, was selling CBD oils to customers looking to ease their pain.

“I’m not trying to sound like a doctor or give medical advice because we aren’t allowed to do that, but it really helps people and it’s a shame they took it off the shelves,” Ingram said.

CBD oils come in various forms and have numerous medical advantages that can replace over the counter and prescription medicine.

“These products can vary from lotions, salves, edibles, sprays, or tinctures. People use these products for a variety of medical conditions, CBD helps those suffering from anxiety, seizures, arthritis, diabetes, depression, PTSD, and a plethora of other common conditions,” Lestenkof said.

Along with the salves, lotions, edibles and other topical consumption methods there is also CBD oils, which rely on extraction using solvents, pressure and low heat. CBD oil can be taken directly via “dabbing” inside of a pill, mixed into foods, Lestenkof mentions.

Other methods that are more discreet are using CBD tinctures that are alcohol based extracts that can be dropped onto the tongue. However, one of the most common methods for consuming CBD is vaporizing that can help an individual get the medical benefits faster than the other methods.

A lot of people believe that AMCO could have handled the situation differently without leaving marijuana retailers and residents confused. Without warning, marijuana retailers were not aware that CBD were not illegal in Alaska and were not given the chance to take the oils off the shelves.

“I think AMCO should have attempted to contact shop owners rather than raid shops and give little to no explanation. I understand that current legislation doesn’t protect the regulation of industrial hemp oils but I don’t believe AMCO handled the situation the right way,” Lestenkof said. “Rather than raiding shops, they should have notified them that CBD oils were not yet legal for sale in Alaska and instead should have pushed for the current legislation to be altered allowing the sales of CBD oils.”

It is unsure when and if CBD oils will return to marijuana retailers. Before it is decided whether or not CBDs will be legal to sell, there will be a board hearing determining the decision.

“Retail establishments cited by AMCO will appear before the Alaska Marijuana Control Board to determine the disposition of the products inventories by the state,” according to AMCO’s press release on Feb. 10. “The board hearing will be closed to the public, but a record of the board’s decision will be made public.”

Although CBD oils are not for sale in local cannabis retailers, the raid did not affect health food stores because of the lack of resources. Until the board hearing, the fate of CBD oils is unknown in Alaska. AMCO will be providing further information on the agency website about the sale of CBD oil.