CBD oil products pulled from store shelves amid state crackdown

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Food products with CBD oil are being pulled from the shelves in Cincinnati.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture is cracking down as medical marijuana stores are opening across the state. State officials now say only dispensaries can sell CBD products, but some store owners say CBD and marijuana are not the same.

Two stores at Cincinnati’s Findlay Market were forced to remove CBD products from their shelves after they received visits from the Cincinnati Health Department.

“This entire shelf was full of CBD seltzers and all the wonderful flavors,” said Debbie Gannaway who owns Gramma Debbie’s Kitchen.

Gannaway says the CBD seltzers helped her arthritis.

“People asking me, 'Well, is it really any good? Does it really do anything?' So, I decided I was going to do it every day so I could see, and the arthritis in my knee stopped bothering me,” said Gannaway.

It’s the same story at Dean’s Mediterranean Imports. Owner Kate Zaidan says her customers enjoyed the products.

“It was a great product for us. People loved it. We had repeat business," said Zaidan. “People would come back and tell us they had great effects from it.”

CBD oil is a cannabis compound, but it does not contain THC. That’s the psychoactive compound found in marijuana that gives you a euphoric feeling.

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy says the state’s new medical marijuana program only allows dispensaries to sell CBD products.

“Well, I think it’s ridiculous. They need to figure out how to reword the law that hemp and hemp products are perfectly legal and should be used in any way possible,” said Gannaway.

The Cincinnati Health Department says it's just following directions from the state. In a statement, Antonio Young, director of environment health at Cincinnati’s health department, said the department is just acting as an extension of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Young said the issue will ultimately need to be handled by regulators like the Ohio Board of Pharmacy.

“I just think it's a shame that access has been limited. To me, it's important that people have access to things that make their lives better,” said Zaidan.

The CBD products pulled from the shelves have been embargoed. The store owners say the health department will pay them another visit in the coming days to determine if the products need to be destroyed.

The Cincinnati Health Department released the following statement of Local 12:

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has identified retail food facilities throughout the state that may potentially be selling food containing Cannabidiol (CBD) products. CBD oil is derived from the cannabis plant, has become the new product in states that have legalized medical marijuana. Food and beverage products containing CBD were introduced in the United States in 2017. Similar to energy drinks and protein bars which may contain vitamin or herbal additives, food and beverage items can be infused with CBD as an alternative means of ingesting the substance. These products may only be legally sold by a licensed dispenser.
On 1/31/2019, the Cincinnati Health Department’s Food Inspection office received a phone call from ODA stating that establishments within our health Jurisdiction may be affected. Local health departments were instructed by ODA to visit the City of Cincinnati locations and embargo the products. Embargoing involves identifying potentially harmful food products, having the products removed from retail sale; itemized/ inventoried and photographed on-site.
The Cincinnati Health Department inspected all of the identified establishments. Only one establishment required an embargo. The remaining locations had either already removed the product from the shelves or altogether discontinued products for retail sale prior to the inspector’s visit. It is important to note that due to our jurisdictional authority and familiarly of these facilities, local health departments are acting as an extension of the ODA only. The issue will ultimately need to be handled at the distribution points by medical marijuana regulating entities such as the Ohio Board of Pharmacy."

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