Virginia sheriff says gas stations selling CBD were unknowingly hawking ‘pure marijuana’

Updated: Dec. 15, 2018 at 5:19 PM EST
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Powhatan County Sheriff Brad Nunnally says his investigators got curious after seeing CBD — or cannabidiol — products for sale in county convenience stores. So they bought some and got them tested by the state lab. The results?

The Virginia State Lab determined one of the products, sold as “hemp flower,” was found to be “3.37 grams of pure marijuana,” according to Powhatan Today. They’re having other products tested, including CBD gummy peach rings and gummy bears, according to WRIC.

The store owners haven’t been prosecuted because they’re cooperating with the investigation and believed they were selling legal products, according to the reports.

CBD products are now widely available for sale in gas stations, head shops and health-food stores around the state. The nonintoxicating compound is found in cannabis and sought for a variety of potential medical benefits, including pain, seizure and anxiety relief. They’re marketed as being derived from hemp, the legally available cousin of marijuana that is defined as having less that .3 percent THC, the compound associated with marijuana’s high.

But because the market is unregulated, buyers don’t necessarily know what they’re getting, and this is at least the second time this year a Virginia lab has tested CBD products and found unadvertised ingredients.

Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University tested nine commercially available CBD vape products and found one contained DXM, the active ingredient in cough syrups, and another four contained synthetic cannabinoids that are the active ingredients in “Spice” and other intoxicating mixtures that have been linked to five overdoses, according to a VCU release.

“This is a public health and public safety issue,” said principal investigator Michelle Peace, Ph.D., associate professor in VCU’s Department of Forensic Science in the College of Humanities and Sciences. “[The consumer doesn’t] know what’s actually in these products. They are not federally regulated. There’s no federal oversight as to the quality and safety of these products.”

Virginia just awarded five licenses to produce and sell medical cannabis oil under legislation passed earlier this year. Advocates say the regulated nature of those products, which will only be available to patients with a doctor’s approval, is what will set them apart from what’s currently on the market.

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.