Do you get into trouble for sell cbd oil

Is CBD legal? Here’s what you need to know, according to science

I’ve come upon it in pharmacy chain stores and gas stations. My dog kennel sells CBD (cannabidiol) gummies for pets, and multiple massage spas in the D.C.-metro area offer “CBD-infused relaxation” through lotions, oils and sprays. There are at least four cafes within a 15-minute walk of the White House that sell CBD coffee.

Yet here’s a strange fact about the overnight ubiquity of these products: Selling them is illegal. That’s true even though the 2018 Farm Bill removed legal restrictions on CBD if it’s derived from hemp plants.

What’s equally strange: Buying CBD products is legal…at least sometimes.

This paradox is one of many in America’s long history of both utilizing and criminalizing cannabis. As marijuana, cannabis has been a tool for relaxation, as well as an element of mass incarceration — but also for medical benefits, like to fight the side effects of cancer chemotherapy.

That tension is something two professors and their students are trying to better understand at the University of Connecticut, which launched the nation’s only college course on growing weed earlier this year.

While “there are all sorts of classes to train lawyers to understand cannabis law and programs for medical practitioners to learn how to dispense medical marijuana,” said Gerry Berkowitz, a 20-year professor of plant science who co-runs UConn’s new course, this is the first in decades to focus on questions like: How exactly does this stuff grow and how can we use it?

They’re among many in the U.S. who are peering through the fog of the clinical claims, legal quagmires and social stigma around weed.

Cannabis, which has been cultivated by humans for at least 12,000 years, is “one of the oldest plants on record as having been used for human benefit,” said Shelley Durocher, a UConn research grower who manages the hemp greenhouse for the class. It’s a fascinating plant that occupies a unique space in the natural world, Durocher said, one that has helped shape the modern existence of Western countries like the U.S.

As hemp, its fiber made the sails that carried European colonists across much of the known world. It was so fundamental to America’s foundations that its image was printed on money. George Washington was notoriously bad at growing hemp, though.

“Began to separate the Male from the Female hemp…rather too late,” Washington penned in his diary in August 1765. (We’ll get to why that’s a problem later.)

A cheat guide to CBD

If you’re looking for the abridged version of this story so you can pass your “pot” quiz, here are the main takeaways.

  • The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production and sale of hemp and its extracts. Hemp, by federal law, cannot contain more than 0.3 percent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Anything with more THC is classified as marijuana, is considered a schedule 1 drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration and is federally illegal.
  • A hemp crop can accidentally start growing marijuna packed with THC because of pollination and sexual reproduction. (Cannabis plants are typically either male or female). Unexpected pollination can easily happen in outdoor fields, given cannabis plants grow abundantly in the wild and their pollen can travel for miles. If your CBD comes from a marijuana plant, it’s illegal. If your CBD contains too much THC (more than 0.3 percent), it’s illegal.
  • The extraction process for CBD and THC is essentially the same. As a consequence, CBD can be contaminated with THC, chemical solvents or pesticides if the extraction is done improperly.
  • The only approved health use of CBD is the seizure drug Epidiolex, despite having many other suspected benefits. The FDA prohibits the sale of CBD in any unapproved health products, dietary supplements or food — which literally means everything except for this epilepsy drug.
  • If CBD comes from a hemp plant with less than 0.3 percent THC, you can buy it under federal law — but some states still have legal restrictions on the possession of CBD.

Cannabis’ reputation has shifted significantly since then, from vital resource to societal ill to maybe something in between.

Berkowitz and professor Matthew DeBacco launched the class at UConn — called “Horticulture of Cannabis: from Seed to Harvest” — to fill a desperate need in the ever-budding cannabis industry, with U.S. sales expected to reach $80 billion by 2030. Three years ago, another of Berkowitz’s undergrad classes took a field trip to one of Connecticut’s medical marijuana producers.

“The owner said his head grower learned their trade by growing pot in their basement,” Berkowitz said. In pointing this out, he was not trying to throw shade on these employees, but rather emphasizing that many of the growing practices in the marijuana industry aren’t typically standardized nor backed by research.

Which brings us back to those CBD lotions and lattes — and how they can be both legal and illegal.

Due to the way cannabis plants naturally grow and breed, many CBD products in stores contain the same drug that makes marijuana federally illicit — THC or tetrahydrocannabinol.

And even if you make sure that your CBD is pure, some federal agencies and state laws still forbid it — even in places where medical or recreational weed is legal.

So before you add CBD to your routine, it might help us all to head back to school for a few science lessons that explain how cannabis is grown, how the compound is collected, and the ways it might benefit and harm your health.

What is cannabis?

Cannabis has many names, strains and varieties, including hemp and marijuana. But these days, they’re all considered one species: Cannabis sativa.

“Marijuana” is any cannabis plant with abundant amounts — technically, more than 0.3 percent — of the mind-altering drug THC. Though 11 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational marijuna, this version of cannabis remains federally illegal and classified as a schedule 1 drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“Hemp,” by contrast, cannot legally contain more than 0.3 percent THC. There are almost no restrictions on the hundreds of other compounds made by the plant, such as terpenes (which are responsible for weed’s “distinctive” aroma).

One noteworthy contradiction in weed law: Marijuana can also produce CBD. If your purified CBD comes from hemp plants, it is federally legal, but if it comes from a marijuana plant, it is illegal. That’s because marijuna plants themselves are prohibited by the DEA.

CBD versus THC

The most obvious hurdles to making pure and legal CBD arise from being unable to tell marijuana and hemp plants apart.

Just try it for yourself:

Hemp versus marijuana. Good luck spotting a difference. Image by Devin Pinckard

“So how do we make a distinction when … basically looking at the plant structure, you really can’t tell the difference?” DeBacco, one of the cannabis course professors, asked us on the campus quad after class (located in the university’s largest lecture hall, due to its popularity).

His answer: “You’ve got to go beyond what they look like to the chemical profiles.”

Scientists suspect cannabinoids protect the plant from UV rays, much like sunscreen does for human skin.

Both THC and CBD are members of a chemical family called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are plants oils, and cannabis comes packed with more than 100 versions of them.

Scientists suspect cannabinoids protect the plant from UV rays, much like sunscreen does for human skin. They think that because up to a quarter of a cannabis plant’s weight can come from just cannabinoids — and cannabinoid levels change with light exposure. “At the top of the plant, you’ll get more cannabinoids, compared to flowers that are at the lower end of the plant,” graduate student Peter Apicella said.

Cannabis makes most of its cannabinoids in its flowers, which are more commonly called “buds.”

“If they don’t get pollinated, the buds will essentially just keep growing and keep producing cannabinoids,” Apicella said.

This is true of both CBD and THC. The only chemical difference between them comes down to a couple of chemical bonds.

CBD and THC are like the “fraternal twins” of plant chemistry. They are basically identical, aside from a couple bond. Image by Adam Sarraf

All cannabinoids start out as a bit of sugar, which hitchhikes around the plants’ enzymes, changing its identity, bit by bit, with each ride. In some cases, this wandering sugar reaches a crossroads, where it can either can bum a ride from one of two enzymes: THC-a synthase or CBD-a synthase. One route leads to becoming THC, the other to becoming CBD.

But in hemp, THC synthase is genetically dormant, Apicella said. As a result, some hemp plants can make loads of CBD because there is no internal competition for making THC.

“With other highly valuable crops — like saffron or vanilla — you get a small percentage of the plant that’s actually usable yield,” Apicella explained. But with hemp, “it’s a huge amount.” Some strains have are upwards of 12 to 15 percent CBD by weight.

How a hemp crop can sometimes become marijuana

Thanks to the “miracle” of reproduction, a hemp crop can start off making only CBD and then unwittingly turn into a THC-laden field of marijuana.

Let’s just say that again because it is a bit mind-blowing. A hemp crop — that is federally legal and only makes CBD — can become marijunana. Studies have found that if two certifiable hemp plants hook up, most of their offspring will be able to make THC. In fact, some of these seedlings will ONLY make THC.

Cannabis is abundant in the wild — meaning an outdoor hemp field is one gust of pollen away from accidentally breeding marijuana.

The wild card for hemp growers is pollination. Most flowering plants boast both male and female parts. They’re hermaphrodites that can mate with themselves. But a cannabis plant is an exception, in that it is almost always either female OR male. And when the plants reproduce sexually, their traits mix and once dormant genes — like those behind THC production — can suddenly be replaced with active versions.

Any biological organism is going to fluctuate — a variable that farmers and growers are always really concerned about, Apicella said.

So to prevent sexual reproduction, UConn’s greenhouse smashes the (cannabis) patriarchy. You don’t want a male in your greenhouse, Apicella said: “If there’s a male, your whole crops can be destroyed.”

So UConn’s greenhouses only grows female hemp plants — all of them are clones. There’s even a small pistil — called a preflower — on young plants that allows horticulturists to identify females without a genetic test.

To grow an all-female group, “you snip a part of a plant off, and you put it in soil with a little rooting hormone and that cutting is actually genetically identical to that first mother plant that you took from,” Apicella explained, raising his arms and pointing to a long row of hemp plants. “So these are all genetically identical to one of the mother plants we have in here.”

Keeping a greenhouse all-female is easy, but it’s a different story growing hemp outdoors.

Cannabis is abundant in the wild — meaning an outdoor hemp field is one gust of pollen away from accidentally breeding marijuana.

The other way that THC can sneak into your CBD bottle

To collect CBD or THC from hemp, farmers harvest the plants and send them to an extractor, who collects the drugs and preps them for sale. The issue is that extracting CBD or THC is essentially the same process. If your supplier does it incorrectly, your CBD bottle might carry an illegal dose of THC.

“It happens all the time,” said Rino Ferrarese, COO of the medical marijuana extractor CT Pharma, who is frustrated by low-quality and tainted products flooding the CBD market. Under Connecticut law, Ferrarese’s company must ensure their products match the labels on their bottles — which they accomplish through pharmaceutical-grade extraction.

Ferrarese said many states across the country do not hold their CBD suppliers to the same standards and federal enforcement is lacking.

Cannabinoids are extracted as oils or resins, which can be gooey. Image by CT Pharma

“What a lot of consumers don’t realize is that the FDA, who’s charged with protecting our safety with respect to food and medicine in the U.S., are not on top of policing those CBD products that you see in the gas station or at the grocery store,” Ferrarese said. “A lot of these products are also not under the purview of departments of public health either.”

As a lark, he and others at the company keep tabs on the sloppy and sometimes illicit products flooding the CBD market. Ferrarese said the results vary widely, and rarely do these products ever meet the claims on their labels.

The math that’s fueling the CBD green rush

A little math can explain why farmers and suppliers are excited about CBD.

To make CBD, farmers can grow up to 4,000 hemp plants in an acre. A single hemp plant can make about a half kilogram of plant material for CBD extraction.

A half kilogram of this cannabis material can yield about 75 grams of CBD, according to Rino Ferrarese, COO of the medical marijuana extractor CT Pharma. That much CBD can make about 350 bottles of lotion, he said, which each typically hold about 200 milligrams of the compound.

That means a single acre of hemp can make about 1.4 million bottles of CBD lotion. If you sell each of those bottles for $30, that’s…a boatload of greenbacks.

“Whenever we see CBD at a gas station or in a retail location, we purchase it and we send it to our independent third-party laboratory,” Ferrarese said. “Sometimes it even contains THC in the bottle when it’s not supposed to. It’s really a crap shoot.”

Extractors can prevent THC from entering a CBD supply. To sap CBD or THC from plant material, all extractions use a chemical solvent. That sounds nefarious, but a solvent is any substance that can dissolve another. Water, for instance, is one of nature’s best solvents — but it wouldn’t be effective for something like this.

“In Connecticut, we’re limited to using only [liquid] carbon dioxide as a solvent for extraction or ethanol as a solvent, Ferrarese said. “In other states, such as Colorado and California, they’re allowed to use solvents like butane.”

Liquid carbon dioxide and ethanol come with distinct advantages. Carbon dioxide is very efficient at stripping cannabinoids from plants, but it must be kept at cold temperatures — -70 degrees Fahrenheit — to stay liquid.

Ethanol extraction, meanwhile, can be conducted at warmer temperatures in a process similar to making liquor, said Kimberly Provera, the operations manager at CT Pharma.

“There is a process called fractional distillation, where you can actually isolate different cannabinoids,” Provera said. “Each cannabinoid will separate based on a specific temperature…so you can isolate just CBD and THC.”

Once the gooey cannabinoids are separated, they add a little heat. The carbon dioxide and ethanol will eventually evaporate, leaving behind pure CBD or THC — but only if the extraction is done properly.

If your supplier makes a mistake, it might taint your CBD with THC — a consequence that can be problematic if your job randomly drug tests. Poor extractions can also leave behind the chemical solvents, which is hazardous in the case of butane, or even pesticides.

“There is a certain consumer expectation that we have here in America when we interact with our products, and cannabis should be no different,” Ferrarese said. “Cannabis, as a consumer packaged good, should have to meet those same standards for purity, identity and composition.”

Before you buy CBD, ask the store how its extracts were made and if they’re validated by a third-party tester.

Why you shouldn’t assume CBD is a cure-all

Raise your hand if you’ve heard someone state a version of the following:

“THC is psychoactive or mind-altering, hence it can make you high and why it is illegal. CBD, meanwhile, isn’t psychoactive.”

That’s not entirely accurate. CBD won’t intoxicate you, but from a neuroscience perspective, CBD is absolutely psychoactive, psychotropic or whatever adjective you want to use to say that it affects the mind and behavior. CBD just affects you differently than THC.

This lack of understanding has led to a lot of misconceptions about CBD, said Joseph Cheer, a neurobiologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine who specializes in cannabinoids.

The first thing you need to know is that our bodies make their own natural versions of these compounds called endocannabinoids.

Akin to dopamine and serotonin, endocannabinoids can operate like neurotransmitters — the chemical messengers that activate or switch off our nerves. That, in turn, sparks or dampens the electric pulses that create our thoughts, behaviors and movements.

Why hemp seeds and their oils are typically legal

Cannabis pollination causes a plant’s flowers — its buds — to set seed and stop making cannabinoids. Hemp seeds and their oils have essentially zero cannabinoids and are only considered illegal if THC residue lands on them.

Cannabis pollination can also stunt the growth of female plants, which is problematic if you’re cultivating the plant for fibers. George Washington made the mistake of allowing his hemp crop to undergo pollination, and it ruined his harvest.

Our nerves receive those chemical messages through neurotransmitter receptors — think of them like radio antennas. Cannabinoids have two known receptors called CB1 and CB2.

This is where the mental effects of THC and CBD differ. THC makes us high because it has a strong affinity for the CB1 receptor, but CBD is the opposite. CBD does not typically interact with the CB1 receptor…at least not directly. Research shows CBD can elevate the body’s self-made endocannabinoids, and scientists are also hunting for a “hidden” brain receptor for the cannabis extract.

The other evidence that CBD is psychoactive? It can battle seizures.

The FDA has only approved one drug made from CBD: an epilepsy medication named Epidiolex. No one knows for sure how it works, but Cheer and other researchers suspect that Epidiolex tweaks how much calcium can get inside of our nerves.

Without going too far into the particulars, our nerve cells use calcium to carry those electrical pulses throughout the body. If a nerve cell has too much calcium, it will fire electric pulses at too fast a rate, which can cause a state of distress called excitotoxicity.

CBD appears to maintain a healthy balance of calcium in nerve cells, which wards off the electrical overloads and damage that happen during seizures.

Cheer said there is also strong support that CBD reduces anxiety and stymies addiction to opioids and marijuana. It may also offer sleep benefits to patients with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.

But FDA approval for these treatments, other medicines like lotions and foods may take years, and “the pace of discovery has already been significantly hindered by the scheduling of the plant,” Cheer said.

Most CBD products are illegal — but only if someone is checking

So if you buy CBD…and it came from a hemp plant…and it’s pure…then you’re in the clear…right? Not quite.

Yes, purchasing CBD is federally legal as long as it doesn’t contain more than 0.3 percent THC, but some state laws have put restrictions on buyers. For example, Virginians can only buy and possess CBD if they have a prescription.

Federal provisions have a blindspot whereby a store can sell as much CBD as it wants, as long it doesn’t make any health claims about its products…

It gets more complicated for sellers.

The FDA has prohibited the sale of CBD in any unapproved health products, dietary supplements or food — which literally means everything except for the drug Epidiolex.

The FDA can officially go after any companies selling or marketing items that make health claims about CBD, especially if those products involve interstate trade of the cannabis extract.

But the agency has limited staff for enforcement. As of this writing, the FDA has only issued warning letters to violators, though it has hinted at pursuing broader enforcement with federal and state partners if the CBD craze continues. Local law enforcement in states like Iowa, Ohio and Texas have also raided hemp and CBD stores this year.

These federal provisions, as written, also have a blindspot whereby a store can sell as much CBD as it wants, as long it doesn’t make any health claims about its products, put it in food nor add it to dietary supplements.

University of Connecticut grad student Peter Apicella works with a cannabis plant in a UConn greenhouse growing THC-free hemp. Photo by Mark Mirko/Hartford Courant/TNS via Getty Images

Connecticut’s road to a hemp industry

As PBS NewsHour science correspondent Miles O’Brien has detailed in past reports, marijuana research has been stymied by the plant’s designation as a federally illegal drug. And until recently, the same restrictions have applied to hemp and CBD.

The 2014 Farm Bill was the first piece of national legislation to permit hemp research, both for health and agriculture pilot programs. Last year’s updated law further loosened restrictions and expanded the grants available for such studies.

Connecticut is looking to capitalize. Legislation to start the state’s industrial hemp program was passed rapidly by state officials this spring.

“It solves a lot of issues for us in the state of Connecticut by creating an industry that can be quite lucrative,” said state senator Christine Cohen, who chairs the environmental committee that reviewed the bills. “The Connecticut Farm Bureau has been predicting $37,000 to $150,000 per acre and in gross value.”

Cohen said this green rush could help dairy farmers in Connecticut and across the nation. Nearly 3,000 U.S. dairy farms folded in 2018 alone.

A spokesperson for the Drug Enforcement Administration told the PBS NewsHour that their agency would have a limited role with these infractions. Since the Farm Bill said CBD with less than 0.3 percent THC was no longer a banned substance, it’s no longer under DEA’s purview, a spokesperson said in an email.

“It is now regulated by the FDA, so we refer you to them for this request,” the DEA spokesperson wrote. Another factor: “DEA does not pursue individual users – we focus on larger-scale operations and drug trafficking organizations,” the spokesperson added.

All of this is important for CBD sellers and consumers because the FDA has a mandate to verify the safest dosage for the chemicals that we consume or apply to our bodies — whether they be applied to drugs, food and dietary supplements — under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

The rapid legalization of hemp and CBD has put the FDA in a tough position. Under its mandate, the agency must validate the safety of foods, drugs and dietary supplements. But CBD products are already flooding American stores.

Cheer and the FDA caution “against all of the off-the-shelf CBD products” because the cannabis extract — like any compound you put in your body — can come with adverse side effects.

Human studies have shown that taking CBD can cause liver problems, diarrhea, vomiting and fatigue. Rodent research also suggests CBD can cause harm to male and female reproductive organs.

When it comes to CBD in the U.S., “whatever I tell you today may change significantly a week from today,” Cheer said.

Left: Even if your CBD is pure, some federal agencies and state laws still forbid it — even in places where medical or recreational cannabis is legal. The PBS NewsHour visited the nation’s only college course for growing weed — at the University of Connecticut — to explore the science and legality behind growing hemp to make CBD. Video by Nsikan Akpan and Jamie Leventhal. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post/Getty Images)

Is it Legal to Make Your Own CBD Oil?

The Farm Bill of 2018 passed six months ago, and as we cruise past the half-way mark of the year, CBD is everywhere. From your local CVS to your friend’s Facebook page, everywhere you turn somebody is selling CBD oil. Despite the growing prevalence, many people still aren’t sure if CBD is legal. federally, CBD products that contain less than 0.3% THC are legal, some states continue to police CBD as marijuana. The TSA recently announced that it would allow passengers to fly with CBD products that comply with federal law. While plenty of questions continue to swirl about CBD, we’re here to clear a few things up. Some things we hear the most are: Is CBD oil legal? Is it legal to make your own CBD oil? What is the difference between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oil? All of these questions are common, and the answers are relatively straightforward. With each state having a different set of regulations it is always safest to check your state laws to see what the local latest stance on CBD is.

The Legality of CBD

The Farm Bill that passed in 2018 made hemp legal on a federal level in all fifty states, including products such as CBD oil. However, marijuana-derived CBD products that contain more than 0.3% THC are still illegal. The source is the key when determining whether or not CBD products are safe and lawful.

1. Is CBD Oil Legal?

CBD oil derived from hemp is legal in all 50 states. Federal law recognizes any products that contain less than 0.3% THC as hemp-derived and is therefore considered legal. Some states continue to struggle with the concept of hemp vs. marijuana. Selling CBD continues to be a controversial issue in these states, and a few people have been arrested for possessing CBD in public. Check your state regulations before taking your CBD oil with you out of the house.

2. Is it legal to make your own CBD oil?

For Do-it-Yourselfers and those looking to save money, making your own CBD oil tincture is an excellent choice. But, is it legal to make your own CBD oil? The short answer is yes. If you decide to make CBD oil using pure CBD isolate and a carrier oil the process is entirely legal. Pure CBD isolate contains nothing but CBD and is legal in all 50 states. If you are using a full-spectrum oil to make a tincture, you’ll want to be sure to get lab results to ensure that the oil contains less than 0.3% THC.

3. What is the difference between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oil?

Finally, let us touch on the critical difference between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oil. Similar to the difference between hemp and marijuana, the answer lies in the THC content. Full-spectrum CBD oils derived from hemp contain other minor cannabinoids and trace amounts of THC less than 0.3%. Broad-Spectrum oils also contain other minor cannabinoids such as CBG but do not contain any THC. This difference is key for those who do not want THC in their products. The reason full-spectrum oils contain THC is that testimonials continue to tout the benefits of the entourage effect, which is all the cannabinoids working synergistically. While more research still needs to be done, the potential benefits of both broad and full-spectrum CBD oils are encouraging to say the least.

How to Make CBD Oil with CBD Isolate

Using CBD isolate to make our own cannabidiol infused creations is one of our favorite ways to use CBD. From CBD infused fruit smoothies to homemade CBD tinctures CBD isolate is capable of creating a variety of different infused products. Making CBD oil with CBD isolate is easy and only takes a few minutes. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the double boiling method, and from there you’re on easy street.

How to make CBD oil

  1. Determine how much CBD oil you want and what your dose will be. The standard size of a CBD oil tincture is 30ml or 1oz. For example, if you want a 1000mg CBD oil tincture, you would infuse one gram of CBD isolate with 30ml of carrier oil. . The carrier oil is the central part of your tincture, so choose one that suits your needs. We recommend coconut MCT oil or hemp seed oil. Coconut MCT oil is an ideal carrier oil for CBD because it promotes better bioavailability, which means you get more CBD out of each dose. Coconut MCT oil is also relatively tasteless making it both ideal for cooking and taking it on its own. Hemp seed oil is great because it contains other benefits of hemp such as essential omega fatty acids.
  2. Use the double boiling method to infuse your CBD isolate with the carrier oil. The double boiling method is a heat control technique that allows us to infuse CBD isolate with a carrier oil without activating and burning off any CBD. This process should take about 15 minutes.
  3. Once mixed, pour your CBD oil into a glass container. Essential Oils keep best in glass Dropper bottles can be purchased at local health food stores or on Amazon.

That’s it! Making CBD oil is easy, and fun too once you get the hang of it. Looking for more DIY CBD projects? Check out the best DIY CBD projects for 2019 below:

If you want more information on whether or not it is legal to make your own CBD oil, or how to make your own CBD oil feel free to reach out to us on social media @bloomhemp Share your DIY CBD projects with us on social media using the #BloomLiving

CBD flower is legal in Indiana. But it still could get you arrested. Here’s why.

The police officer pulled the cap off a bottle filled with clumps of a dried, green leafy substance.

It looked like marijuana. It smelled like marijuana. But was it actually marijuana?

The Greenfield Police Department says yes. State law says no.

It is known as CBD flower. In a press conference on Feb. 15, officials warned that anyone in possession of the product could potentially get in trouble with the law, even if the product is within the legal 0.3 percent THC limit for CBD products.

“There is a product being sold. that could very well jam up an unknowing citizen if they were using their product and possibly cause them to be arrested,” said Jeff Rasche, police chief for the Greenfield Police Department .

That’s because CBD flowers are likely to show as positive for marijuana in police field tests, including being identified by drug-sniffing dogs.

What is CBD flower?

CBD flower, or hemp flower, is a product that is derived from the cannabis plant. It looks and smells like marijuana, but has a low THC content. THC is the substance in marijuana that gets a person high.

A representative from Botanacor Services, an industrial hemp and CBD testing lab in Denver, said CBD flower is no different than a marijuana flower except for the percentage of THC, which is typically 0.3 percent or less.

Jahan Marcu, a cannabis researcher and co-founder for the International Research Center on Cannabis and Mental Health, said it’s easy to confuse CBD flower with marijuana.

“Hemp flower and cannabis flower are essentially the same thing,” he said. “They come from the same part of the same plant. The only difference is the ratio or amount of the active ingredients.”

How and why is CBD flower used?

CBD flower can be smoked, vaped or used to make products such as jams or tea bags.

“Different delivery methods give different results,” Herman Barclay, co-owner of Indy CBD Plus in Indianapolis, said. “Vaping or smoking the product gets it into the lungs faster than anything else. and there’s zero waste.”

CBD flower is used for the same reasons people purchase other types of CBD products.

“For stress, anxiety, pain, insomnia,” Barclay said. “What CBD does is it goes after the CB2 receptors already in your body. It gives you a warm blanket feeling and a calming feeling over the body.”

But CBD flower won’t get users high because it’s so low in THC.

Barclay said there are many types of delivery methods for CBD such as edibles, tinctures, patches, creams, gummies and capsules.

Because marijuana is illegal on the federal level, there is little peer-reviewed data to prove whether CBD products work as advocates claim.

Why do cops say it’s cannabis?

The Greenfield Police Department tested two types of CBD flower: one from Colorado-based Aspen Valley, and another one from Indy Hemp Company in Indianapolis.

Field tests were conducted: a smell test, micro and macroscopic exams, and the Duquenois-Levine Test, which is one form of cannabis testing. The Greenfield Police Department also used a K-9 to establish the presence of cannabis.

“Those results were that it looked like marijuana, it smelled like marijuana, and it tested positive for marijuana, even under the microscopic examinations,” he said.

For the Aspen Valley CBD flower, the conclusion for each test was consistent with marijuana, and the final analysis was that the product was positive for cannabinoids.

The police department was not able to measure the level of THC in the products. But that’s where the legal distinction between illegal marijuana and legal CBD oil lies.

“There is nothing with the naked eye or our basic senses that can help us distinguish between hemp and cannabis flower,” Marcu said. “They have the same smells, and can produce the same fragrance molecules.”

He said the K-9 testing especially troubling, and he wondered if a dog could actually tell the difference between CBD flower and cannabis. He likened it to asking the dog to differentiate between “a rose and a flower.”

Can I get in trouble for having CBD flower?

The short answer is yes. Julie Chambers, an attorney at Chambers Law Office and former Marion County deputy prosecutor, said if you’re pulled over in your car and a police officer has reason to believe you are in possession of marijuana, they can by law search your car.

“If it smells like and resembles marijuana, a cop will have a very hard time differentiating between the two,” she said. “If they find what they believe to be marijuana, they have probable cause to arrest, which could lead to you going to jail.”

She said this process could lead to other problems including having your car towed and being fined, even if it’s discovered later that the substance was not marijuana.

“It’s not necessarily cause to sue the police because based on their training experience, they had probable cause to arrest you and in most cases they’re immune from civil liability,” Chambers said.

And even if the charges are dropped, you have an arrest record and would have to wait a year for it to be expunged, Chambers added.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was not immediately able to answer questions about how it deals with CBD flower during traffic stops, though IMPD spokesperson Genae Cook noted that the law governing the products is the same across the state.

In Indiana, it is legal for any person to buy, sell and possess CBD oil products as long as it doesn’t contain more than 0.3 percent THC. The products must meet certain labeling requirements and have QR codes that link to the ingredients.

In Indiana, it is illegal to have THC and metabolites in your system.

What do CBD suppliers think?

Stevi Dugan is a co-owner of Mr.Lee’s CBD in Indianapolis, and attended the press conference. She said CBD is still so new to Indiana and there are a lot of unknowns, so it’s a “cart before the horse” situation.

“CBD oil could test positive in a field test for cannabinoids, but it wouldn’t hold up in court,” she said.

Mr.Lee’s sells CBD flower, and Dugan said they heat shrink all of their containers and warns customers about the potential run-in they could have with the law.

Jenny Ingram, owner of Vapor Madness with multiple Indiana locations, was also at the press conference. She likens the situation to drinking alcohol.

“We are all adults here,” she said. “It’s illegal to drink and drive, and if you make the adult decision to drive after drinking, then you could get in trouble too.”

Kellie Hwang is a reporter at IndyStar. You can email her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @KellieHwang.