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CBD known for reported health benefits, but is it legal?

Posted at 10:27 PM, Feb 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-19 22:28:56-05

PHOENIX — The legalization of hemp with the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill has opened new doors for an industry that was already seeing big growth in our state.

Business is now booming for those in the CBD industry. Cannabidiol is a chemical compound found in both marijuana and hemp plants.

RELATED: Tempe restaurant lets guests add CBD oil to pizza, cocktails

While the hemp plant and its extracts are no longer considered a Schedule 1 drug, there is still a "stoner" stigma surrounding the product.

ABC15 reached out to Valley law enforcement agencies to see if CBD is legal in Arizona. We got a response from every agency except Phoenix, Glendale, and Maricopa County.

The consensus among law enforcement agencies seems to be, CBD is legal depending on the source of the chemical compound and the amount of THC -- the substance that gives you the so-called "high" effect.

Police say if the CBD contains less than the federally allowed limit of 0.3% THC in it, it is legal. Police stress that marijuana extracts such as hashish and vape pen oils that use hash oil are also still illegal.

"There is going to be some confusion as all of this rolls out," said Gunhee Park, the founder of Populum, an Arizona-based company that sells CBD oils and other hemp-derived products on their web-based business.

Despite the lack of research on CBD products, the testimony surrounding the medical benefits of CBD are powerful. From tinctures to oils, to creams and pills, people are using CBD to cure everything from back pain to inflammation, headaches, and anxiety.

"There is no high. You are just getting the benefit of the Cannabinoid," said Lilach Mazor, co-founder of The Giving Tree Wellness Center. Mazor says her dispensary is expanding to add a whole line of CBD products that will be available to customers who do not have a medical marijuana card.

All over the Valley, new CBD businesses are opening their doors, while existing businesses are adding restaurants and kitchens to draw customers in. Many are even partnering with companies who have been in business in other states to market and sell CBD products from their homes.

Parks admits he was once skeptical about the CBD industry, but education and testimonies made him a believer. He founded the company after getting a business degree from Arizona State University.

"Our first full year in business which was 2017, we did about half a million dollars in revenue," said Parks. Since hemp and CBD used to be illegal in Arizona, he had been using growers based out of Colorado to make the products they sell on their website.

The company has a distribution center in Tempe. Parks says he looks forward to bringing more of his business back to Arizona, once the hemp industry takes off.

Economists predict hemp will be a $20 billion industry by 2020, and a big chunk of that growth will come from the CBD craze.

Parks says oral tinctures are their hottest selling item. A tincture is something you put underneath your tongue. Parks says most of his customers use it for overall well-being and for addressing chronic, whole body issues.

The FDA is still cracking down on companies that are openly making health claims that CBD can cure an ailment or disease.

FDA officials say businesses who do that are breaking the law and will be cited and fined. Their products could also be confiscated for not complying with FDA rules.