NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Herb Import Company on Canal Street must stop selling all products containing CBD - at least for now.
The Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control issued a notice to retailers Thursday, Mar. 21. CBD is an extract that either comes from hemp or marijuana, which is illegal in Louisiana.
ATC Commissioner Juana Marine-Lombard uses an analogy to group all three products.
“Hemp, marijuana and CBD are like Baskin-Robbins. They’re different flavors, but at the end of the day they are all ice cream," Marine-Lombard said.
The ATC Commissioner says in the last few months the office has been inundated with complaints that some CBD products have a trace of THC, the component in marijuana that gets people high.
“At this point, quite frankly, ATC and State Police can’t pull every single product off the shelf to test it and see what’s in it,” said Marine-Lombard.
Federal law and state law conflict when it comes to hemp products. Federal law legalizes hemp products containing less than .3% of THC, but Louisiana law prohibits any product containing a trace of THC.
The ATC says it’s halting the sale of all CBD products because the law doesn’t make a distinction between CBD extracted from hemp or CBD extracted from marijuana.
“In my opinion they’re over-stepping their boundaries,” said Herb Import Company General Manager Den-A Tiberius. “It doesn’t stand for alcohol, tobacco and cannabis. It stands for control.”
ATC says notices were only sent out to businesses that have a state alcohol and tobacco license, and agents will start enforcing the guidelines at the end of the month.
“If the company does not comply, the alcohol and tobacco license gets suspended,” said Marine-Lombard. “So that means they can’t continue to sell alcohol and tobacco products.”
Tiberius says this move will only hurt the state’s economy.
“I don’t know what all of these businesses are going to do, because they’re going to have to close,” he said.
The ATC commissioner says the guidelines could be changed in a matter of weeks, depending on a decision by the state attorney general and the State Drug Policy Board.
“I would hate for them to destroy thousands and thousands of dollars in merchandise and it’s possible in three or four weeks it could be legal,” Marine-Lombard.