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Ohio Board of Pharmacy Clarifies that CBD Products are Subject to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical compound that comes from the cannabis plant. Unlike Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not contain the psychoactive components that get you high. Advocates of CBD claim that CBD products can help treat a variety of ailments including inflammation, pain, and anxiety.

Because of CBD’s promise to relieve so many conditions, the CBD market has exploded. CBD products can often be found in retail shops and routinely ordered online. Regulations surrounding CBD products are unclear throughout the United States because CBD is a cannabis plant extract. With all the buzz surrounding CBD, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has sought to clarify its stance on CBD products. Looking at the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the DEA has stated that, “products and materials that are made from the cannabis plant and which fall outside the CSA definition of marijuana…are not controlled under the CSA. Such products may accordingly be sold and otherwise distributed throughout the United States without restriction under the CSA.” In essence, the DEA states that if CBD products are made from the parts of the cannabis plant that fall outside the CSA definition of marijuana (such as sterilized seeds, oil or cake made from the seeds, and mature stalks) then these products are not controlled under the CSA.

Despite the position of the DEA stating that certain CBD products may not be controlled by the CSA, CBD regulation in Ohio is unclear. On August 27, 2018, the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy (Board of Pharmacy) issued a statement with its interpretation of HB 523, the Ohio Medical Marijuana Act. According to the Board of Pharmacy, HB 523 includes CBD oil in the definition of Marijuana. As such, according to the Board of Pharmacy, all marijuana products, including CBD oil, can be dispensed only by a licensed Medical Marijuana Control Program dispensary. The Board of Pharmacy further opined that, until dispensaries are operational, no one may possess or sell CBD oil or other marijuana-related products and any violation can subject an individual or entity to administrative or criminal action.

Some prosecutors have reportedly instructed store owners who sell CBD products to immediately cease and refrain from further sales. However, no court to date has provided an authoritative opinion to confirming this interpretation, and other states with legalized medical marijuana have inconsistent interpretations. The proper treatment of CBD products in Ohio is sure to generate controversy and litigation and may need legislative action to resolve.

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