The buzz on CBD

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At the corner of Lyndale and Lake in South Minneapolis, consumers find themselves at the intersection of medicine and the latest fad. 

Two stores on opposite corners, each selling CBD.

Inside Nothing But Hemp, customers find a glossy boutique offering CBD in vape pens, lotions, oils and just about everything imagined.

When asked if he can call his products medicine, storeowner, Steven Brown replied, “No” and said he calls it just what it is, “CBD, Hemp.”

Across the street, at 419 Hemp, the vibe is more back room head shop, where Justin Trott sells CBD lotions, ointments and the actual hemp flower he’s licensed to grow himself.

“Some people have their opinions on it and they feel they know what they want it for. I don’t make medical claims. One of the things I always do is suggest they consult their doctor and recommend they do research online,” Trott said.

Owners at both stores said they sell only reputable products that use third party testing. 

They are careful to avoid any medical claims and their attorneys have assured them they are selling it legally.  


CBD is a chemical found in both marijuana and its country cousin, hemp.  Both belong to the same species, cannabis sativa.

But unlike THC, CBD doesn’t get you high.  The question is; does it heal?

Dr. Charlie Reznikoff, who sits on the Medical Cannabis Task Force, said some of the early clinical research is very promising.

“This is a fad right now where CBD is going to cure everything,” he said. “There are potential benefits to CBD that are very exciting in the immune system, the psychiatric world, in the addiction world. There are potential benefits that are very exciting but we don’t have the evidence to promote it.  But we know about seizures. I think we now believe it helps people with seizure disorder.”

The FDA recently approved the first drug containing CBD, Epidiolex, for pediatric seizures. 

According to Dr. Cody Wiberg of the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy, the popularity of CBD has outpaced the law. 

“CBD is a pharmacologically active drug,” but at the same time he added, “Sort of like the wild, wild, west.”

The confusion began with passage of the Federal Farm Bill, which excluded hemp from the list of controlled substances, where marijuana and other narcotics are listed. 

Hemp products are legal under state and federal law, as long as they contain less than a fraction of THC:  0.3 percent. 

The FDA is still in charge of regulating cannabis products, including CBD, which it describes as a “drug ingredient,” and “not a dietary supplement.”

Any claim of “therapeutic benefit” or “disease claim” needs FDA approval. 

“The state law is broader.  It says if the intent is to use that product for the purposes of a drug, it’s a drug,” said Wiberg.

However, intent can be tricky. Most products, like mint flavored CBD oil, are careful to avoid making any direct medical claims. 

“Why would you use CBD oil specifically, if it wasn’t to treat a disease or alter function,” Wiberg said.

CBD is legal for patients in Minnesota’s Medical Cannabis Program, where it is extracted from marijuana, not hemp. 

It is even more confusing for law enforcement. If a person looks at hemp and marijuana flower side by side, it is very difficult to tell the difference.

When asked if CBD oil is unregulated, Wiberg replied, “pretty much.”

According to Wiberg, without FDA regulation, there is no mandatory third party testing or labeling, so consumers need to be cautious. 


A bill at the legislature would legalize products containing CBD. 

The Board of Pharmacy hopes a state law will mandate quality control measures like product testing and some standardized labeling.


CBD is metabolized by the same enzymes in the liver that process about 60 percent of the pharmaceuticals the United States.

High enough doses of CBD can actually raise the blood level of those other drugs. If you are taking other medications, it is important to check with your doctor before ingesting CBD.