Amanda Grosserode suffered from insomnia for years.
“I would go three, four, five nights with minimal sleep. That obviously crashes you. I would have one night where I slept really long and hard, but I would never really totally get caught up on those nights. It’s hard on your health and your attitude,” she said. “Just your function as a person is minimized without getting enough sleep.”
Grosserode, a former state legislator from Overland Park, found a solution to her sleepless nights–CBD oil. However, a recent opinion issued by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt made anyone in possession of CBD oil a criminal.
“We believe it is unlawful to possess or sell products or substances containing any amount of cannabidiol,” Schmidt wrote in an opinion to Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay and Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe.
Grosserode said the opinion criminalized people like her who use CBD oil for relief.
“In essence, anyone who has been taking CBD to treat an ailment was a made a felon,” she said.
CBD oil, also known as cannabidiol, is one of 109 compounds of the cannabis plant. Its adherents say it doesn’t make users feel stoned, and much of the CBD oil available for sale contains less than .3 percent of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana. People use it to combat insomnia, pain, anxiety, and seizures.
Howe says he requested an opinion from the AG’s office after citizens and consumers peppered his office with questions on the legality of the product.
“We were aware that the items were bing sold in stores, and we had, I guess, consumers or citizens call and ask whether or not these items were legal,” Howe said. “I think there were people who didn’t want to violate the law.”
Kansas users of the oil will have to reconsider their usage since Schmidt issued his opinion. It also stripped some Kansans of part or all of their livelihood. KSNT reported that a Topeka store, CBD American Shaman in Topeka, shuttered its doors last week in response.
Sean Pickett is an attorney representing the Topeka store as well as CBD sellers in Johnson County, Wichita, Manhattan, and in Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa.
“It’s absolutely federally legal,” Pickett says.
The only part of the marijuana plant that is psychotropic is THC. Pickett says federal lawmakers should make THC illegal, but not the whole plant.
“That’s what the farm bill is about,” he said.
Schmidt’s opinion delves into which parts of the plant are used to derive CBD oil–mostly the flowering tops of the cannabis plant–before ruling that those parts of the cannabis plant are not excluded from Kansas’ definition of marijuana. Further, Schmidt notes that CBD oil hasn’t been approved by the FDA.
Pickett says state statute assumes that CBD oil can only be made from cannabis, but that isn’t the case.
“There are other ways of sourcing it. We’re now sourcing it from juniper. It’s just a more expensive product,” Pickett says. “CBD is harder to extract from those plants.”
Howe said it’s pretty clear what’s legal and what isn’t in the state of Kansas, and CBD oil is marijuana and therefore isn’t legal.
“We’re telling everyone if you have a problem with this, then the branch of government you need to go to is the legislative branch,” Howe said. “Go through the FDA and get something approved then you can legally distribute it. That was the thing the legislature put into place was if you want a mechanism to use (CBD oil) then this is how to go about it.”
Before trying CBD oil, Grosserode tried melatonin, over-the-counter sleep aids, and valerian root. She says CBD oil isn’t habit forming.
“The positive thing when you’re talking about pain relief is there are no side effects like your opioids have. You’re not going to overdose. You can’t overdose on CBD. The dosage has to be so intensely high, no one would ever take that amount,” she said.
The Topeka store has since reopened, but it isn’t stocking a lot of product, Pickett says. It’s available by door order.
“They’re not going to subject themselves to getting lots of products seized, but if consumers come to the door and order a product, I think they can get it,” he said.
Stores should be concerned about their product being seized. Howe says his office is still considering the options for dealing with stores in Johnson County that may still be selling CBD oil. That could mean criminal charges or judicial orders demanding stores stop selling it.
“We are looking at our options, but we haven’t decided what is the best course of action,” Howe said. “Everything is on the table.”