CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — State laws regarding various controlled substances are sometimes puzzling, especially when it comes to cannabis.
The Wyoming Legislature recently debated whether to strengthen laws pertaining to edible or concentrated marijuana, once again failing to reach agreement on the issue. But some, particularly those suffering from chronic illness, are demanding clarity on an element of cannabis that lacks psychoactive properties — cannabidiol, most notably found in CBD oil.
Cannabidiol is one of the two main molecules in marijuana, the other being tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is known to have mind-altering effects.
Recent studies suggest that CBD oil may treat epilepsy, anxiety, schizophrenia, heart disease and cancer. The molecule attaches itself to certain receptors in the body to act as a pain reliever, using methods similar to those of THC without the associated high.
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Last year, a report from the World Health Organization found that no public health problems are associated with the use of CBD, suggesting it has little potential for abuse.
Wyoming is one of a number of states that have not legalized marijuana, but have laws directly related to CBD and other hemp extracts, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported .
During the 2015 legislative session, Wyoming’s “hemp extract bill” legalized the use of these products for registered epileptic patients. The extracts must be extremely low in THC and high in CBD — those containing less than 0.3 percent THC and more than 5 percent CBD by weight are legal with a registration card.
The law requires neurologists to provide a statement to the Wyoming Department of Health detailing how a patient would benefit from hemp extracts, after which they may qualify for registration.
Since 2015, there have been a total of 34 applications made, with 26 unique cards issued, which must be renewed annually, according to health department spokeswoman Kim Deti.
Right now, there are approximately nine individuals with active, approved cards in Wyoming.
The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation says CBD oils are being distributed at multiple locations throughout Wyoming, including in pet stores, convenience stores and grocery stores.
In Wyoming, it is illegal to possess, use or distribute any substance containing THC without this hemp extract registration card.
“The CBD oils are legal to possess as long as they do not have THC in them,” DCI Commander Matt Waldock said. “But, if the CBD oils contain even a trace of THC, the only way to legally possess it is with a card.”
That said, it can be difficult to know exactly how much, if any, THC exists in CBD oils.
“I don’t know how accurate the THC contents are,” Waldock said. “Businesses may be selling CBD oil that says it has none, but we have tested some and found trace amounts. I think the quality control there is lacking on the testing process, but the bottom line is right now we are trying to educate people.”
CBD oil is marketed in everything from liquid drops to lotions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve these products for any purpose, which means their production and distribution are not subject to federal regulation.
For this reason, it can be difficult to know whether a product has the properties stated on its packaging.
If someone is caught with THC-laced CBD oil, the DCI has the legal authority to charge them with possession of a controlled substance, but Waldock said the department is looking to set the record straight first.
“Obviously, if we were going to charge someone, we would work with the jurisdiction and get multiple opinions on what we should do about it. But I think there is some confusion about this topic, so I would like people to have the right information first.”
Waldock also said it can be difficult to determine if a product is laced with THC, due to limited personal-use testing facilities in the state.
“Just use your best judgment,” he said.
Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, http://www.wyomingnews.com