Editorials

What are the KC-area laws for cannabis extract CBD? The answer is still hazy

The nation’s fascination with hemp-based products is growing. Stores that sell cannabidiol, a hemp derivative known as CBD, are popping up across the Kansas City area.

Unfortunately, laws and other regulations and guidelines addressing CBD aren’t keeping pace. Facebook banned a Lee’s Summit CBD vendor in December, its owner says. Some cities and police departments, including Kansas City, are fuzzy about CBD’s legality.

States have different policies regarding the substance. Consumers aren’t sure what’s going on.

That needs to change. In 2019, regulators and lawmakers must develop clear and fair policies that allow the sale and use of CBD remedies in food, pills and ointments.

There has been some progress. In December, Congress passed a farm bill removing hemp from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Schedule 1 list of illegal substances. That should make it easier to buy CBD that contains little or no tetrahydrocannabinol, the substance in marijuana that gets you high.

But the Food and Drug Administration says putting CBD in food is still illegal, as is making any claim that CBD products have any health value at all.

“Selling unapproved products with unsubstantiated therapeutic claims is not only a violation of the law, but also can put patients at risk,” the agency said in December.

It’s a mess. Some states, empowered to draft their own laws and regulations concerning CBD, are also struggling to enact consistent policies their residents can understand.

“There’s a lot of confusion,” said Philip Wilson, who runs the Sacred Leaf CBD store in Lee’s Summit, the one booted from Facebook. “It’s hard for the public to know what to do and where to go.”

The FDA must take the lead here. It plays an important and necessary role in reviewing food and drug safety and efficacy and should not abandon those standards for CBD.

At the same time, the public’s support for CBD is clear. The agency should assume CBD is legal, then accelerate its study of the product with an eye on making it widely available this year.

CBD without tetrahydrocannabinol — known as THC — is legal in Kansas. Missouri allows CBD for some uses, although the legal framework for general use remains hazy. A national standard would help clear up the confusion.

Once that work is done, concerns about marketing CBD on websites such as Facebook may be easier to address. While the government shouldn’t require popular sites to promote CBD, or any product, a clear legal framework may make it easier for the company to allow the CBD ads and pages.

Policymakers must come to grips with reality: Most Americans believe cannabis-related products should be available for some medical purposes. That includes products with high THC content. Voters in Missouri endorsed medical marijuana in November.

Recreational marijuana is a more complicated subject. Even so, voters and lawmakers in a growing number of states have legalized pot, and more are considering doing the same.

The public is far ahead of its representatives on these issues. In 2019, legislators and Washington should work to catch up.

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