State troopers confiscated 55 gallons of CBD oil last week after discovering several buckets of the hemp extract during a traffic stop, according to a press release from the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The driver and a passenger of a U-Haul truck that had been pulled over for a “marked lanes violation” on Interstate 70 were arrested and taken into law enforcement custody.
Troopers observed “criminal indicators” during the traffic stop just after noon on February 25 in Muskingum County, about 60 miles east of Colombus, according to police. After an OSHP drug-sniffing dog alerted to the vehicle, a “probable cause” search of the moving van was conducted and troopers discovered eleven plastic buckets containing 7,040 liquid ounces of CBD oil, with an estimated value of $165,000.
Both the driver, Joshua Sellers, 37, of Providence, R.I, and the passenger, Richard Defedele, 37, of North Kingston, R.I., were charged with possession of a schedule 1 substance, a first-degree felony. If the men are convicted, they could face up to 11 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.
CBD Tightly Controlled in Ohio
Despite the legalization of hemp and CBD at the federal level with the 2018 Farm Bill, cannabidiol remains a controlled substance in Ohio. In December of last year, state regulators announced that CBD from any source fell under the auspices of the Ohio medical marijuana program that was passed into law by the legislature in 2016. With CBD now considered a form of medical marijuana, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy said that products with cannabidiol would only be allowed to be sold by licensed cannabis dispensaries.
“All marijuana products, including CBD oil, can only be dispensed in a licensed Medical Marijuana Control Program dispensary,” the notice reads. “Those marijuana products will have to comply with the rules and regulations of the program. All products must have a known source, as well as known quantities of active ingredients. Testing procedures will be conducted by testing laboratories licensed by the Ohio Department of Commerce.”
“Until dispensaries are operational,” the board wrote, “no one, including board licensees, may possess or sell CBD oil or other marijuana-related products.”
That announcement came despite the fact that retailers across the state had been selling CBD products for years, leading some shop owners to liquidate or remove their stock of CBD goods and others to openly flout the new rules.
Alison Rinehart, the manager of the High Up Head Shop in Columbus, told local media in December that the CBD products sold at her shop should not be confused with marijuana.
“None of our products are derivative from cannabis in any way, shape or form. They come directly from hemp,” said Rinehart. “They all have certified insured lab reports behind them as well. There’s no THC content in them whatsoever.”
E.R. Beach has sold CBD supplements at his four Hemptations pipe shops in Dayton and Cincinnati for seven years. He told local media that he did not intend to stop selling them because of the ruling from the Board of Pharmacy and issued a challenge to police.
“They [law enforcement] are going to have to charge me, and if they charge me, it’ll be for possession of marijuana, and when they test the product, they’ll find that it’s not a marijuana product,” he said. “They could do that at any time.”