It’s been a hot topic all across the country, cannabidiol, also known as CBD, oil. Many claim the oil can help fight seizures, cancer and anxiety. In 2015, Gov. Butch Otter vetoed a bill that would have allowed kids with severe forms of epilepsy to be treated with CBD oil. The governor said more research needs to be done.
Forty families in Idaho are being given clinical trials of Epidiolex, an FDA-approved CBD oil, to see if it has any impact on seizures. It’s all a part of the Department of Health and Welfare’s Expanded Access Program.
However, one local business claims they have found a loophole in Idaho’s law and plans to start selling CBD oil in the next few weeks.
Under Idaho Code it’s illegal to sell any part of the marijuana plant, except for what it calls the mature stalk. It’s that loophole, Mike Larsen with Welcomed Science, says they’re using to extract the oil.
“So all of our products are derived from the mature stalks of plants. So not from the buds or the leaves or anything else," Larsen said.
Larsen says they’re working with a company out of California to isolate the CBD from the hemp stalk, which means none of the other ingredients, including the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana, THC, will be in their oils.
“They extract just the CBD from the plant. The CBD molecule itself," Larsen said. "They break it down and extract that out and then we infuse that into the products themselves. So there's no THC anywhere in our products.”
However, Elisha Figueroa with the Idaho Office of Drug Policy says CBD, like THC, is also illegal in the state.
“CBD is illegal according to Idaho law and according to federal law. So with or without THC, CBD is illegal,” Figueroa said.
Larsen and Welcomed Science is not backing down though and says that’s not what Idaho Code states.
“The products that we're selling with no THC that are derived from mature stalks have always been legal in Idaho," Larsen said. "There's never been a time when they weren't. It's just a matter of going through all the necessary steps to produce a product that is effective and still within those bounds.”
However, Figueroa says from what the state has seen many times those products aren’t within the bounds.
“As law enforcement has confiscated those products and had them tested, often times they are coming back not including CBD or including THC or including another synthetic drug that is not related to marijuana,” Figueroa said.
Figueroa added many online research studies have shown that CBD can only come from the flower of the cannabis plant.
“The issue being that when you look at research in how CBD is made the experts will tell you that it's made from the flower of the plant, which is absolutely marijuana,” Figueroa said.
However, Larsen says all of their oils will be tested by Harrens Lab out of Hayward, California.
“All of our products are batch tested, every batch is tested to ensure that it's THC free,” Larsen said.
In 2014, Congress passed the Farm Bill, which allowed universities and state departments of agriculture to grow industrial hemp as part of a research program.
“Not for the purpose of general commercial activity,” Figueroa said.
“What prevents essentially the state or police coming in here on a day and saying 'hey you guys, you can't be doing this, this is CBD oil. This isn't allowed here in the state.'” KTVB asked Welcomed Science.
“The law. The law is actually spelled out,” Larsen said.
“Could the state come in and essentially say you guys are selling CBD. This is illegal and shut them down,” KTVB asked the Office of Drug Policy.
“Well, I don’t want to talk about any business in particular. I will talk broadly about state policy, but according to Idaho law - CBD is illegal,” Figueroa said.
An answer, that only time will tell.