Cannabinoid oil, or CBD, is booming in Wisconsin. It’s a chemical compound made from marijuana and hemp plants that provides medicinal benefits without a high. Gov. Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 10 last April, legalizing the use of CBD oil with a doctor’s written approval, but there is still confusion over who can legally possess it.
CBD oil falls into a legal gray area because current federal law classifies tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Most CBD oils derived from marijuana have trace amounts of THC.
A federal law allows the sale of the nutritional oil derived from agricultural hemp because it has a much lower level of THC.
Tim O’Brien, owner of Apple Wellness (apple-wellness.com) in Fitchburg and Sun Prairie, has been selling this version CBD oil for the last year. “You only need a doctor’s note if it’s CBD from marijuana, and the seller needs a special license,” he explains. “You do not need a doctor’s note to get CBD that’s made from agriculturally grown hemp. That kind is legal in all 50 states. People think it’s somehow supporting the drug cartels, or that you’re going to get high from it, which is not true at all.”
But there is no federal agency regulating the production of CBD oil, because the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration still consider the compound to be illegal, just like THC.
To confuse matters further, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a memo on April 27 that says it is illegal to possess or distribute CBD oil in this state, even if it contains very low levels of THC. And, the memo continues, possession of CBD oil that contains a reportable amount of THC can result in prison time. “Penalties range from an unclassified misdemeanor ($1,000 fine and/or up to six months in jail) to a Class I Felony ($10,000 fine and/or up to three years, six months in prison), depending on whether it is a first conviction for a drug crime,” according to the statement.
While the federal government, law enforcement agencies and the states clash over the legal issues, CBD oil is still for sale in the Madison area, both at Apple Wellness and Community Pharmacy.
“It’s all in the air,” says O’Brien. “The DOJ’s release contradicted the federal and state laws. So, at this time we are still selling it, and there is no need for customers to be concerned in buying it. They do not need a doctor’s note. It’s fully legal for me to sell and for customers to buy. However, this truth is absolutely at risk, and if someone were to ask me if we will have access to it a month from now I’d have to say I don’t know.”
Apple Wellness in Fitchburg, 6313 McKee Road, sells a variety of CBD products starting at $24, including skin creams, ingestible oils, nasal sprays, wax “dabs” to use with a vaporizer, oil-filled capsules and edible gummies. And there’s CBD for our furry friends, too. A bottle of Charlotte’s Web Paws, a hemp extract for adult dogs ($75), is said to treat joint pain in pooches.
O’Brien says that high-quality CBD oil can have real medical benefits, and the products he sells at Apple Wellness have been third-party tested to ensure their potency. His customers use the oil to help alleviate seizure disorders, depression, anxiety, pain, digestive issues and insomnia. “I have customers who come in with chronic pain, and they’re in tears, and they don’t know what to do,” says O’Brien. “So I give them CBD, and they come back and give me a big hug, because the pain is gone. I mean, what do you say to that? It’s awesome.”