By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A controversy is growing over a trend showing up on Minnesota store shelves.

CBD products claim to help with everything from anxiety to seizures. The key ingredient comes from hemp plants, and supporters promise benefits similar to medical marijuana — but critics don’t think the products are even legal.

There are pouches for sleep and stress, oils, gummies, soft gels and deodorant. It’s available to calm your dog and help with hips and joints. And now there’s a store dedicated solely to products containing CBD.

Stores get around selling CBD over the counter because it’s extracted from hemp, but it’s legally a gray area.

“I tell people this is God’s medicine, we were made to take this,” said Marie Schneider, owner of The CBD Store.

Schneider’s St. Cloud store advertises conditions the products can help, and they offer complimentary samples.

“Come in with a headache and leave without it. Come in anxious and leave feeling fantastic,” Schneider said.

Her store has done so well since a spring opening, relatives opened a store in Maplewood.

“This is all about CBD. This is all about we want to help people be healthy,” Doug Herkenhoff said.

Customers like veteran Maurice Champagne drive for hours looking for relief. He took four hours to travel from Mountain Iron.

“I have PTSD, depression, anxiety. I’m hoping it’s at least part of a solution anything that will give me hope. I’m kind of grasping at straws,” Champagne said.

That’s why Stacey Simmens of Shakopee brought her mom, Shari Jewett of Grand Rapids.

“My mom suffers from pretty severe migraines. She’s had a traumatic brain injury from a car accident,” Simmens said.

“Some days I can’t even get out of bed it hurts so bad,” Jewett said.

It’s being touted as a cheaper and more easily accessible alternative to medical marijuana, where you don’t need a doctor or prescription to buy the hemp-CBD product. But the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy warns the industry is too liberally interpreting the law.

“I’ve sometimes characterized this as the Wild Wild West,” Executive Director Cody Wiberg said. “This was a very rapidly developing industry. There is actually very little regulation of it. The sellers will say this is a dietary supplement, the FDA has actually said no.”

Wiberg says the pharmacy board is currently questioning sellers’ legality, but admits it is a complicated issue.

“We don’t think they’re legal right now,” Wiberg said. “We don’t want to deprive people of products that really could be helpful and may be a cheaper alternative and that could be the case if these products are ultimately regulated and have some standards in terms of their production and testing.”

Wiberg urges customers to use caution. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture tested bottles from various locations brought in by authorities.

“In some cases the products contained no CBD at all, in other cases the CBD was perhaps half of what was stated on the label,” Wiberg said.

Minnesota Poison Control Center’s Dr. Travis Olives says this is a “buyer beware” type of situation.

“This is an unregulated, psychoactive drug that is out there, number 1, and 2, it’s the other stuff that might be in there that you don’t know about in unregulated products,” Olives said.

For now, the legality isn’t being enforced and the products aren’t going anywhere. Analysts foresee a $20 billion industry by 2022.

“To prevent the sale when people can buy on and there are probably hundreds or thousands of retail businesses in Minnesota,” Wiberg said. “It’s pretty hard to go back and shut that all down.”

The federal Drug Enforcement Agency considers CBD products illegal. It’s looking at the issue and reviewing exact statutes.

The state urges caution against using the products and expects the issue to be addressed this legislative session.

Jennifer Mayerle

Comments (20)
  1. You guys misquoted a bunch of stuff in this story. Hemp-derived CBD oil is completely legal in MN. Marijuana derived CBD is not. And in a full-spectrum hemp oil, there is less than a .03% level of THC. You will not get ‘high’ from it. Calling it psychoactive is completely misleading. There are isolates of CBD where there is no THC in the product. Again, calling it psychoactive is inaccurate.

    I’ll agree 100% that there are companies out there that are taking advantage of people with mislabeled products that don’t contain what is on the label, but to the contrary, there are several legit companies that confirm their sources of hemp, have several labs testing their products and make all their results publicly available.

    The DEA considers hemp-derived CBD products off their radar. And there is significant language in the Farm Bill in the legislature right now, to make all this official. This stuff has been around for several hundreds of years, but hasn’t been in the regular diets of humans in this country for a long time. And to add to this, the DEA has advised the FDA of the way they feel towards these products and has passed on recommendations to back off on calling this illegal. You can travel all over the country with this stuff and nobody turns an eye to it, including the TSA. There are some politicians that don’t see it as legal, but they aren’t in MN.

  2. JT Ganno says:

    Hemp derived CBD contains little or no THC. It is not a Psycoactive drug. The story was pretty good but then ruined by false information.

  3. Thomas Tiger O'Keefe says:

    My wife and I have literally heard hundreds of testimonials from people who suffer from anxiety, sleep disorders, pain, and many other ailments who have been helped by CBD. Big Pharma is scared….very scared. Did they lean on Viacom , the company that owns WCCO to do this hit piece?

    Think about the money Big Pharma spends on advertising on CBS:

    “TV ad spending by pharmaceutical companies has more than doubled in the past four years, making it the second-fastest-growing category on television during that time,” Jon Swallen, Kantar’s chief research officer, said.”
    Think you saw a lot of TV ads for drugs in 2017? That’s because you did. Pharma spending on national TV ads for 2017 climbed even higher than in 2016—by more than $330 million. The total tally was $3.45 billion, compared with $3.11 billion in 2016, according to data from real-time TV tracker