The interview was going so well when it happened.

I was speaking to a 61-year-old woman from Arizona (who has since asked that her name be removed). A public relations firm had contacted me, wondering if I’d be interested in interviewing this woman about her use of hemp-derived CBD oil to treat her intractable seizures.

I checked out the website for her story.

It appears on a site called CannaEffect.org, a very professional-looking web page that is a collection of patient stories. It claims it had applied for a 501(c)3 tax-exempt classification. It is registered to a San Diego company called “CIB Holdings.”

This woman’s experience is like that of so many patients I have interviewed in the past decade. She had terrible debilitating seizures. She exhausted every pharmaceutical option that plagued her with side effects, but offered no relief.

When doctors suggested her next option was brain surgery, it was then that her daughter helped her begin a regimen of CBD oil. It was a miracle for her from the very first day, when she did have a seizure, but so far less intense than her usual. Now, she is nearly seizure- and pharmaceutical-free.

That’s when I steered the interview toward the politics.

I asked her, as an Arizona resident, whether she had applied for her medical marijuana card.

“Actually, I don’t even have to,” she told me proudly. “The CBD oil is not illegal. There’s no THC… I don’t have to carry a marijuana card to get the CBD oil, and it’s able to be shipped right straight to my home over the internet.”

“Well,” I replied calmly, trying not to smack my palm right through my forehead, “I should warn you that the DEA just released a statement on CBD oil. They believe that it is federally illegal to ship it across state line and to possess it. I don’t know who gave you that information, but I would warn you that you are, at least according to the DEA, breaking federal law, and I wouldn’t want to see you get in trouble.”

She didn’t seem to know what to say, other than, “Well, so far I haven’t had any issues.”

I hope she doesn’t.

She’s not only breaking federal law, she’s breaking Arizona law if she doesn’t have a medical marijuana card.

As we continued the interview, she noted how she was able to get off of so many pharmaceuticals by using her CBD oil. I followed up by asking about the relative cost; how much does her monthly regimen of CBD oil run compared to what she spent on those pharmaceuticals?

She demurred by saying that there’s no comparison to all the money wasted on pharmaceuticals that didn’t work.

I persisted, because that wasn’t the question. I asked her again, what does her monthly regimen of CBD oil cost?

She told me she didn’t feel comfortable talking about the cost.

Hmm.

After we concluded the interview, the public relations representative who had put together our phone interview wanted to interject about my statements on CBD oil’s legality. She told me she had material she could send me, she mentioned something about Section 7606 of the Farm Bill, she even brought up the 2004 HIA v. DEA lawsuit.

It seems like the people who want to promote the internet sales of CBD oil really don’t want me pointing out two core truths:

1)      It’s illegal and;

2)      It’s expensive.

I replied to the PR flack with the truths about the lack of CBD in the hemp stalks and seeds that these companies purport to get their oil from; the limited application of Section 7606 of the Farm Bill solely to universities and state agriculture departments conducting research, not making medicine; and that the HIA v. DEA applied only to THC, not CBD, from hemp in foodstuffs and topicals, not medicine.

“If this stuff were legal in all 50 states to order over the internet,” I asked her, “why would there be three separate bills in the federal Congress and 16 states passing laws to legalize CBD?”

After we hung up, I dug further on “CIB Holdings.”

The only major reference I could find on them was from Cashinbis, a for-profit (it seems) that is promoting the marijuana industry.

Look, I’m all for people gaining relief from CBD oil, and I’m completely opposed to the federal prohibition of it.

But let’s not fool desperate people into thinking that there isn’t a federal prohibition and, in most states, either tight regulation or prohibition of CBD oil.

Yes, it is our duty to disobey unjust laws.

Kudos to entrepreneurs who create companies and flout state and federal prohibition and to the patients who disregard these cruel bans to improve their healing.

But you can’t go telling patients that what they are doing is legal.

When we marched and sat-in and protested with joints in hand, when we grew clandestinely and sold to one another, when we spread info on beating drug tests and hiding your stash, we did so with the intent of disobeying unjust laws to further civil rights progress.

Yes, some of us made money on all of that. But we never told each other what we were doing was legal.

I understand a company can’t go out and proclaim that what it is doing is illegal. But a company can say it believes what it is doing is legal, that current opinion from the DEA says it’s not, that it is challenging that opinion in court, and that its customers should consult an attorney about the federal, state and local laws that may apply.

If everybody is informed about the risk, then have at it—break the unjust law with the intent of improving it. That’s the American way.

But fooling people about the risks of your overpriced medication, so you can make a profit, is something a pharmaceutical company would do.

Previously in Radical Rant: Prohibition—Not Legalization—Leads to Interstate Trafficking
Click here for all of Russ Belville’s columns.

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