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Healing with hemp: Local 10 investigates alternative medical trend

CBD used to treat everything from migraines to chronic pain

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – A new type of holistic healing is blooming in South Florida and causing people to put down down their pill bottles and opt for a more natural solution called CBD.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabis compound proponents say has all the medical benefits of marijuana but won't get users stoned.

This is because CBD comes from hemp, which is a cannabis plant like marijuana, but unlike marijuana, hemp contains CBD and not THC.

CBD is used to treat everything from chronic pain to migraines, and users say the effects of CBD usually kick in within 45 minutes.

Some South Florida mothers swear by it.

"My son Ravi is 11, and he was born without the center of his brain," said Jennifer Nayak. "It allows him to function in a more calm way."

No prescription is necessary to buy products containing CBD, as they can be purchased online and in stores.

Prices range from about $15 to $175, and CBD is so versatile that it can be eaten, drunk and even worn.

"CBD coming from hemp is benefiting people," said Alex Ordonez, who owns Holistic Hope in Fort Lauderdale. "From grandparents to little kids, even dogs are using it."

Wendy Potler worked as a hair stylist for decades until her chronic pain forced her to retire.

"I started taking it and my pain has gone down," said Potler. "It allows me to sleep at night."

So how is this stuff legal?

In a statement, the Drug Enforcement Agency told Local 10 News that products containing CBD are technically violating federal laws.  

"At present, this material is being illegally produced and marketed in the U.S. in violation of two federal laws," the DEA's statement said, in part.

However, legal analysts contend there's a loophole in the law "because it comes from agricultural hemp," said Mark Eiglarsh, a former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney.

"They're selling it as a supplement, not a drug," Eiglarsh said.

"People are putting down the pills because they don't want to be medicated," said Lia Pachi, who is co-owner of City Wide Vape in Hollywood. "We have a ton of people buying it, and it helps."

Business owners who sell CBD products said it's important to do your homework before purchasing it and to make sure that the product is being bought from reputable companies.

"Most people don't know what they're getting, so you must shop at reputable places and demand to see lab results," added Eiglarsh.

In 2015, five smoke shops in the Orlando-area were busted for selling products labeled "CBD," even though they really contained THC.

"We've had times where we've conducted our own tests and our results don't match up with the company we buy from," said Ordonez. "That's concerning, and we made sure those products never hit our shelves."

There are currently several bills being considered by legislative committees in Tallahassee that would remove cannabis from the schedule of controlled substances and allow certain universities to study hemp production.