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CVS Ignores DEA, Says It’s Already Selling CBD Products

March 22, 2019
The nation's largest drug store chain is stocking CBD products in eight states. (Photo: LPETTET/iStock)
The US Drug Enforcement Administration may still consider CBD an illegal, Schedule I drug, but the national drugstore chain CVS apparently disagrees.

America’s largest drugstore retailer confirmed earlier this week that it’s selling CBD products in at least eight states and will soon carry CBD products from Curaleaf. Those states include Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, and Tennessee. Curaleaf is a national brand that operates state-licensed, full-THC cannabis dispensaries in 11 states.

Marketwatch’s Max A. Cherney reported:

“We have partnered with CBD product manufacturers that are complying with applicable laws and that meet CVS’s high standards for quality,” a spokesman said in the email.

Independent health food and supplement stores have long carried hemp-derived CBD products, but this week’s news marks the first time a high-profile national chain has come out and acknowledged carrying CBD products on store shelves. (Amazon, meanwhile, has long sold CBD oil through its online marketplace.)

The news comes at a time when the legal status of CBD, a medically potent cannabinoid derived from the cannabis plant, remains murky under both state and federal law.

CBD Raids in Texas

Meanwhile, the legal status of CBD remains problematic for smaller operators in less cannabidiol-friendly states.

Just last Friday, two independent stores in North Texas were raided by police and had their CBD products confiscated. According to a report on News 5 in Dallas/Ft. Worth, police in Duncanville, TX, removed hundreds of pounds of CBD products from the shelves of two GM Tobacco stores. Scott Friedman and Jack Douglas Jr. reported for NBCDFW.com:

Amy Wazwaz, who owns the stores with her husband, said police seized more than $50,000 worth of CBD products.

“They took everything that was remotely related to CBD,” Wazwaz said, adding that she would have allowed the police to test anything in her stores, if they’d simply asked.

Police have made no arrests, but noted in a statement that the investigation is still ongoing and evidence is being processed.

Related

Know Before You Go: A SXSW Guide to Texas Cannabis Laws

Farm Bill Legalized It? Kinda.

Passage of the 2018 farm bill in Congress late last year led many to believe that hemp-derived CBD had become legal nationwide. That’s not quite the case. The US Drug Enforcement Administration has taken aggressive steps to insist that CBD, because it’s derived from cannabis, a Schedule I substance, and is therefore illegal under federal law.

FDA officials, in an unusually detailed press announcement, have made it clear that they’re not so sure. The farm bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, “which means that it will no longer be an illegal substance under federal law.” But the FDA cautioned that CBD product manufacturers cannot make health claims for CBD, or add it to food or dietary supplements, without passing FDA approval.

Texas state law is actually more strict than federal law when it comes to CBD, and therefore takes precedence over the farm bill. It’s worth noting that CVS stores in Alabama—a state where medical marijuana remains prohibited—are carrying products containing cannabidiol, but CVS stores in Texas are not.

Related

The Roll-Up Bonus Episode: Cannabis in Texas

Not Edible, No Health Claims

CVS confirmed to Marketwatch that it’s selling CBD products in the form of creams, sprays, roll-ons, lotions, and salves. These topicals may pass legal scrutiny because they’re not ingestible as food and make no health claims as part of their labeling or advertising.

At this point, the widespread public interest in CBD, and growing awareness of its medicinal claims, does the job for them. A manufacturer need only put “contains CBD” on the label. The medical benefit inference is clear, while remaining technically absent and therefore legal.

At Curaleaf’s quarterly earnings call on Wednesday, the company’s executives confirmed that CVS would begin to carry its lotions and transdermal patches, products that contain hemp-derived CBD. Curaleaf CEO Joe Lusardi said the products would be available in CVS stores across 10 states by the end of this week.

Bruce Barcott's Bio Image

Bruce Barcott

Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

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  • 360dunk

    I’ve been taking two doses of CBD daily (drops of oil sublingually) for the past year and have noticed the improvement with my arthritis. For the DEA and FDA to pretend that this drug has no medicinal value (thus remaining on Schedule I) is beyond stupid.

    State of Texas to its ailing residents: “We will confiscate your CBD and force you to consume the drugs on OUR list. You may take Vicodin, Percocet, and Oxycontin for your pain. It’s worth the risk of getting addicted to synthetic opioids….ANYTHING’S better than the horrors of CBD use!! Trust us, we know what’s good for you.”

  • dthurman

    Kudos CVS

  • Steve

    This writer must not know that President Trump fast tracked CBDs for being legal in the entire nation it’s been for sale at every flea market and farmers market for a couple years now. They CVS are standing on legal ground. Please research better.

    • Stephen Maris

      The 2018 Farm Bill was pushed by Mitch McConnel of Kentucky, since his tobacco farmers were looking for a new crop to make $$$$ with. It’s all about the money and the only thing Trump did with this is put his signature on it, which wasn’t really needed, since this bill was passed with a bipartisan super majority. This was in the works before trump was on the scene and I seriously doubt he is motivated by anything besides money in his own pocket.

  • Hopefully they start carrying SERENE CBD beauty products as well, amazing products.

  • Spencer Moran

    why cant anyone tell us which states? why would you even post the article without such information honestly..

  • The Resistance

    “Amazon, meanwhile, has long sold CBD oil through its online marketplace.”

    Can someone verify (or refute) the accuracy of this statement? I’m pretty sure they only sell hemp seed oil that does not contain CBD.