Council supports moratorium on business licenses for stores selling CBD
CBD oil testing positive for THC in O.B. could lead to felony arrest regardless of percentage
By John Mullen
Police Chief Joe Fierro said legal confusion around CBD products led him to flag a business license for what would be the second store in the city.
He said in October the state attorney general said any CBD products not approved by the FDA were illegal. Then about two months later the Alabama Department of Agriculture OK’d growing industrial hemp in the state and Congress took the hemp out of its definition of marijuana.
During the business license process, licenses are reviewed by various city department heads and any of those people who have concerns about a particular license can ask the council for a review of that license.
“It’s very easy to get confused,” Fierro said. “Basically, the state of Alabama needs to make a determination as to what they want to do so we know what we have to do or not to do. Until that happens perhaps a little bit more time may be better to take a closer look at it.”
Hemp contains about 0.3 percent of THC, the substance that gives marijuana users a high. Marijuana can contain as much as 20 percent to 30 percent of the substance.
At a July 9 work session, the council aired those and other concerns as they discussed a business license for Lotus of Orange Beach. Also, during a 90-minute-long discussion, council members voiced support for a moratorium on business licenses to stores wanting to sell CBD products.
“All we’re doing is saying let’s take some time to create an ordinance that will prevent what we know what is going to happen with the frauds and the fakes,” Kennon said. “Do we require onsite recordkeeping so when we walk in and look at the product you’ve got the lab tests are right there for us? And what we do with our police department?”
Chase Smith, one of the owners of Lotus and owner of another shop in Foley that sells CBD, said his research says the oil and other products have been declared legal by four state agencies.
Smith quoted one of the releases to read that “as a result of a Congressional action CBD derived from industrial hemp with a THC concentration of no more than 0.3 percent can be legally produced sold and possessed in the state of Alabama.”
“There’s no ambiguity there,” Smith said. “It’s legal per all four of those departments that have issued those press releases.”
After concerns about quality control and products getting in that might contain higher percentages of THC, Smith said all of his products are tested by an independent lab.
“Everything in our store comes with a certificate of analysis,” Smith said. “Not even the company themselves but an outside lab to run the tests to show all the oils that are in it.”
Kennon said his concerns weren’t with the legitimate dealers with tested products but with products that aren’t as controlled getting into town.
“I have been in the supplement industry and I know for a fact if there is a fad and there’s money to be made then the fakes, the frauds as CBD oil companies and they will be marketing CBD oil that is not less than 0.3 percent that’s not regulated,” Kennon said.
For law enforcement, if a vial of oil is found in a car and tested for THC, the result will be a positive test no matter what the percentage reads.
“Our police have to deal with the fact that if it tests at even 0.1 it’s an illegal situation because they don’t know if it’s 0.1 or 21,” Kennon said.
Just having that little bit of oil, Fierro said, can lead to a felony arrest. And, it would take months for a backlogged state forensic lab to find out if the percentage was indeed criminal.
Kennon said this is why the city would like to implement the moratorium to get an ordinance in place to ensure the products are safe and legal.
The other shop specifically selling CBD products in Orange Beach is Your CBD Shop on Canal Road. Smith said four other stores at The Wharf have CBD products for sale as do the two Tom Thumb stores in the city.