CBD-Infused Products Are Being Sold Everywhere In California — But Are They Legal?

By Laura Newberry
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Laura Newberry reports, “Consumers who purchase a CBD product from a non-licensed retailer in California are, in a sense, blindly trusting that its purity and THC levels are sound. But research shows that’s often not the case.”


Greg and Gary Avetisyan make no secret of it: They proudly sell all manner of products infused with CBD, from essential oils to bath bombs to fruity tealike beverages that promise calming relief in a frantic world.

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a molecule derived from cannabis. But unlike its chemical cousin THC, it won’t get you high. What it might do, according to some research, is alleviate anxiety, seizures, chronic pain and dozens of other ailments.

The Avetisyan brothers’ belief in the alleged benefits of the extract is so steadfast that they opened California’s first CBD-only store, Topikal, in Tarzana last year and opened a second along the Venice Beach boardwalk in April.

In the eyes of California, however, the Avetisyans’ products are being sold illegally, even though they are non-psychoactive.

The state’s Department of Public Health declared this summer that CBD-infused food, drink and dietary supplements cannot be sold by non-licensed retailers, further complicating an already confounding regulatory landscape.

According to the California Bureau of Cannabis Control, CBD products made from marijuana may be sold at licensed cannabis dispensaries, but CBD pulled from pot’s non-intoxicating relative, hemp, is barred from being peddled at pot shops.

The prohibition comes at a time when CBD’s reputation as an alternative cure-all has captured the public’s imagination and spawned a half-billion-dollar industry.

With weed-friendly California putting the brakes on CBD sales, however, the future of that exploding market has been cast into doubt. It has also raised questions over just how well officials can enforce the ban, and whether, as CBD supporters insist, the state is actually increasing the risk of consumers purchasing fraudulent or adulterated products.

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