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State AG To Iowans: CBD Products Are Not Legal

Cannabidiol, or CBD, products, which have been showing up for sale at Iowa retailers, are illegal under Iowa law, according to the attorney general's office.

The state attorney general’s office is reminding Iowans that cannabidiol, or CBD, products are not legal under state law.

CBD comes from hemp, a plant in the same family as marijuana. But it lacks THC, the substance in marijuana that produces a “high.” It's a component often found in medical marijuana.

Lynn Hicks, the communications director for the state Attorney General’s Office, said products containing CBD like oils and gummies are illegal to sell in Iowa because they’re not approved by the FDA.

"Until they change its position regarding legality of CBD and in use for food or dietary supplement or an animal food, then, you know, it would continue to be illegal in the eyes of the federal government," he said.

Hicks said this could also mean the amount of CBD in a product might not match the label.

"We just want to make sure that people understand that CBD products are not regulated for quality by the FDA or the state," he said.

Under current state law, CBD is still considered a controlled substance like marijuana, Hicks said. 

Hicks said he thinks some of the confusion has come from the passage of the 2018 federal Farm Bill, which authorized production of hemp containing less than 0.3 percent THC and removed it as a "controlled substance" under federal law, but he said it required state action. Iowais still waiting for federal approvalof its program, which Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law last May.

If the U.S. Department of Agriculture approves Iowa's Hemp Act, it would remove CBD's "controlled substance" classification under state law -- but would still not make it legal to sell for consumption -- and it would allow Iowa farmers to grow industrial hemp.

Hicks said the legalization of recreational-use and medical marijuana in other states has also made the law unclear to Iowans.

"We have the confusion of some states where marijuana is legal and you know, there's so much there's such a wide range of things happening right now in other states," he said. 

Iowa has a medical cannabidol program that started last year, but patients must have a medical certification from a doctor and can only buy products at a state-licensed dispensary.

Last month, the FDAsent out letters to 15 companieswarning them that they are illegally selling products that contain CBD.

Hicks said the enforcement of the sale and use of CBD products is under local law enforcement agencies.

Earlier this month, an Ankeny store owner was arrested by the Polk County Sheriff's Office for selling CBD products without a state license.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter