Amid CBD’s booming sales in the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on the substance.
“The market for CBD in Louisiana has already crashed when they stopped allowing us to sell edibles, smokables and vapables,” said Brandy Nichols, owner of Kaya’s CBD Retreat store in Luling.
The restriction was made by the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) on hemp-derived CBD products in June. The move came only three weeks after Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the bill that legalized sale of the products with less than 0.3 percent of THC to be sold in the state, but also prohibited sale of hemp for inhalation or in alcoholic beverages. Food and beverage products with it were banned unless approved by the FDA as a food additive.
Nichols said the restrictions left only tinctures and topicals for sale, “which is not enough to keep any doors open.”
She added, “It hurt sales. Most people want the Gummies and smokables.”
But she’s keeping her shop open waiting on further word from the FDA, which is cracking down on CBD distributors.
Most recently, the FDA issued warning letters to 15 U.S. companies selling products with cannabidiol (CBD) violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act on unlawful marketing of medicinal benefits. The federal agency also updated its Consumer Update outlining safety concerns about their use, including potential liver injury and potential interaction with other drugs such as blood thinners.
Kaya’s Retreat is one of two CBD stores opened in the parish this year. The CBD Store opened in Destrehan.
Initially, both owners say they opened their locations based on customer requests of hemp’s cannabidiol oil, seeking its health benefits not its psychotropic THC. Nichols stands by this still.
CBD or cannabidiol was discovered in 1940 as a plant extract with studies on its benefits including combating anxiety, epilepsy, movement disorders and pain. The extract can have trace to zero amounts of THC, but some states restrict how much of it can remain in the product.
St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne cautioned customers to ensure they buy products with no THC. Champagne emphasized THC is still an illegal Schedule 1 substance at any level in Louisiana, which means “any oil or hemp product that has any level of THC is illegal in Louisiana.”
FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy said the federal agency issued the warning based on public misconception that these products were FDA evaluated and approved as safe, which is not the case.
In Luling, Nichols said she’s hoping the FDA will approve CBD smokables, vapables and edibles so she can sell them again in her store.
Without those products, which were among her top sellers, she said she’ll have to diversify her products to keep the store open.