The second component of the Utah Legislature’s approach to cannabis this session moved from the Senate to the House on Wednesday, as lawmakers passed a bill that would allow the dozens of businesses already selling a cannabis byproduct to do so legally.
The bill creates the legal framework to process and sell cannabidiol (CBD), a byproduct of cannabis that should have no psychoactive effects and is sought out for its purported medicinal properties.
While the product technically is federally illegal because of its relationship with its cousin, marijuana, CBD has become widely popular across the United States as people have used it to treat seizures, anxiety, pain and the side effects of cancer treatment, among other ailments.
The bill, SB130, would set up a licensing and fee process for hemp farmers and processors through the Department of Agriculture. It also would require labeling and testing for CBD products.
“It has nothing to do with THC. … It’s hemp-grade CBD,” said Sen. Evan Vickers, a Cedar City pharmacist and the bill’s sponsor. “Technically it’s illegal by the DEA. But they are not enforcing that.”
Congress has taken steps to limit funding for federal prosecutors and investigators to target marijuana businesses, but it hasn’t removed cannabis from the highest level of federal drug designation. The plant is listed alongside heroin.
SB130 would ask for federal permission that would allow CBD products to be dispensed in Utah pharmacies, if approved.
The passage comes after a businessman in Heber City was cited for selling CBD products from the inside of an antique shop. That citation also coincided with a state investigation into a spike in calls to poison control after people consumed products that were advertised as CBD but caused symptoms that are associated with other drugs.
Vickers said the calls highlight the need to regulate sales and production of CBD. SB130 will move to the House, which already passed two bills that would allow terminally ill patients who are expected to die within six months to try marijuana grown from a state contractor and sold from a state-run dispensary.