The murky legalities of hemp products in Texas

By Robert Arnold - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - If you're confused about the legalities surrounding CBD products, don't feel bad.

Between federal laws versus states laws versus federal regulations, the legalities and regulations are all over the map. What is not unclear is the popularity of this new industry.

“Business is good, we're actually opening three more stores,” said Amaan Maherali, owner of Elevated Wellness on Bellaire.

Maherali opened his business in December. He said car accidents and injuries from inline skating led him down the path of CBD oil.

“I just got tired of taking a bunch of over-the-counter pain pills,” Maherali said.

However, Maherali is careful not to market the products in his shop as having medical benefits. Here's why; the federal government recently decriminalized industrial hemp and its derived products, including CBD oil. This is because the hemp plant doesn't have enough of the THC compound to produce a high, unlike the marijuana plant. However, the Food and Drug Administration still has the authority to regulate CBD products and the feds prohibit these products from being marketed as having therapeutic benefits because not enough testing has been done.

The FDA maintained regulatory authority because CBD has been approved for use in certain drugs used to treat certain seizure patients.

Another point of confusion is CBD infused food products. KPRC showed you a CBD coffee shop opening to long lines over the weekend. There are also several CBD edibles for sale, like gummy bears.

However, the FDA stated CBD cannot be placed in food products. However, FDA officials told Congressional leaders in February the administration was only going after businesses threatening the health of the general public. 

FDA officials also stated they are now open to changing some of the rules and will discuss the matter during a public hearing next month. Maherali hopes the FDA will come up with tighter regulations so there are set rules on what can and cannot go into the myriad products currently being sold.

“If there's no classifications of it, then a lot of people don't really know what they're getting. There are companies out there that just want to make a dollar,” said Maherali.

Sales of CBD products is one thing, possession is another. The laws on that can also be confusing.

Tonight at 10 p.m., KPRC talks with several area district attorneys about their policies regarding CBD products.

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