Biloxi Councilman Robert Deming III’s CBD and kratom stores in Mississippi and North Carolina are under federal investigation.
The U.S. DEA says agents found synthetic cannabis, more commonly known as spice, that was labeled as CBD supplements and edibles inside of some stores. Deming’s home in Biloxi was also raided.
The raid has prompted questions about the regulation of the CBD industry in Mississippi.
The cultivation, processing, sale, use and transportation of hemp has been legal in Mississippi since 2020 when the state legislature passed senate bill 2725, the Mississippi Hemp Cultivation Act.
Marijuana contains more than 100 compounds, aka cannabinoids. CBD (or cannabidiol) and THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol) are two of the most common compounds found in hemp and marijuana.
What is THC?
THC provides the high, or mind-altering effects in marijuana. It can have serious side effects like addiction, psychosis, altered senses, altered sense of time, mood swings, impaired movement, delusions, impaired memory and hallucinations, according to the NIDA.
In the case of medical marijuana sold in Mississippi, its potency must be from 30% total THC or less.
What is CBD?
CBD is sold in the form of juices, creams, oils, vape pens, candies and dog treats. The compound can treat chronic pain, anxiety, inflammation and insomnia.
“One study showed that CBD may relieve pain by affecting receptors of the endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate pain, mood, and memory, in addition to many other physiological and cognitive functions,” said Katie Rosenblum of Cedars-Sinai.
CBD does not cause a high and is generally safe to use, health experts say. But the compound can cause irritability, diarrhea, dry mouth, low blood pressure, changes in appetite, drowsiness and liver damage. CBD can also interfere with other drugs and prescriptions you take.
“Studies have shown the potential for harm to the liver, interactions with certain medications and possible harm to the male reproductive system,” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “CBD exposure is also concerning when it comes to certain vulnerable populations such as children and those who are pregnant.”
Some people may not be aware of exposure to CBD through the foods and beverages they consume. The compound is risky to animals and can be passed to people through meat, milk and eggs from animals fed CBD.
How is CBD regulated?
Cannabis has been federally illegal since 1937. Despite having no intoxicating aspects, CBD was lumped in with all cannabis as a Schedule 1 narcotic in 1970.
Schedule 1 includes drugs like LSD, ecstasy and heroin and is “the most dangerous class of narcotics that by statute are classified as having no accepted medical use, having a high potential for abuse, and not safe for use even under medical supervision,” according to the Council for Federal Cannabis Regulation. Cocaine is a Schedule 2 drug.
Several groups are lobbying to deschedule all forms of cannabis, but it is more likely that the drug will be rescheduled to a 3 or a 4, like Valium or Ritalin.
Federal law changed in 2018 when President Donald Trump signed the farm bill, aka the Agricultural Improvement Act. The new law removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act.
While hemp and marijuana are both cannabis, the federal government legally classified any cannabis with less than .3% THC as hemp.
Removing the controlled substance label from hemp meant the farm bill pulled CBD out of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s jurisdiction and made its regulation the responsibility of the FDA.
The FDA treats CBD as it does any other FDA-regulated product. But the FDA limited its regulation to the average food or drug because there was not enough research available on the safety of CBD.
“The US government has spent over a billion dollars with NIDA [the National Institute on Drug Abuse] involved in regards to the abuse of hashish with out ever having the chance till now to start out understanding the medicinal and advantages of hashish and to normalize hashish throughout the confines of the present regulation,” mentioned Sheri Orlowitz, founder and board chair of the Council for Federal Hashish Regulation.
Most CBD has unproven medical claims, but the FDA has approved one CBD product, “a prescription drug that treats seizures associated with Lennox Gastaut syndrome (LGS), Dravet syndrome (DS), or tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) in people one year of age and older.”
Regulations may be right around the corner. “Federal regulation is to begin in earnest and this is for real,” said Orlowitz. “We’re not kicking the can down the road, we want to get to action.”
Last month, FDA officials convened to explore potential ways to regulate CBD products. The group concluded that the FDA should work closely with congress to draft regulations that safeguard and oversee the sale and manufacturing of CBD products.
The panel also denied three petitions to regulate CBD in dietary supplements and food, saying there wasn’t enough consistent data to understand how CBD could meet the safety standards for dietary supplements.
This story was initially revealed February 8, 2023, 2:53 PM.