Although he does not yet have a license to sell CBD products in the state of Ohio, the owner-operator of CBD stores in West Virginia and Kentucky hopes to bring his wares to Portsmouth by June.
Frank Stephens’ stores in Ashland, Ky., and Barboursville, W.Va., are franchises of a national chain known as Your CBD Store, which has locations in 28 states including the local tri-state area. According to the company’s website, there are three Your CBD Stores in Ohio. The closest Ohio store to Portsmouth operates in Columbus.
What is CBD? Extracted from marijuana or cannabis, “CBD” stands for cannabidiol, which was discovered in 1940, according to a quick Google search. The product is sold in everything from pills, to oils placed under the tongue to topical ointments, gummy candies and, found on the Internet just in time for St. Valentine’s Day, heart-shaped chocolates.
Although medical research into CBD is described as being in its infancy according to most Internet sources, CBD often is advertised as being helpful with numerous conditions such as different types of chronic pain including joint pain and arthritis, anxiety and numerous other maladies. Stephens said most of his customers buy CBD for some type of pain or another as well as anxiety. He said CBD oils have been by far his best seller in the relatively short time he’s been in business. His oldest store, the Ashland location, has only been open for three months.
CBD is said to have no euphoric properties; that is, you don’t get high off CBD. According to Stephens, most CBD products contain no THC, the chemical in marijuana which causes its euphoric effects. However, Stephens added the products he sells are different, and somewhat unique, in that they do contain small amounts of THC.
As of last year, the sale of CBD products became illegal in Ohio without a medical marijuana retail license.
“It’s a little confusing, kind of a gray area,” Stephens said. At the federal level, according to Stephens, CBD is 100 percent legal.
A spokesperson for the Ohio Attorney General’s office, Dominic Binkley said the regulation of medical marijuana and related products such as CBD falls more under the purview of the state board of pharmacy rather than the Ohio Attorney General’s office. Provided by Binkley, information from the pharmacy board reads in part:
“All marijuana products, including CBD oil, can only be dispensed in a licensed Medical Marijuana Control Program dispensary. Those marijuana products will have to comply with the rules and regulations of the program. All products must have a known source, as well as known quantities of active ingredients. Testing procedures will be conducted by testing laboratories licensed by the Ohio Department of Commerce.”
Stephens said he clearly intends to try and obtain an Ohio medical marijuana permit though it is not clear where he is at in that process. Stephens added, should he ultimately be able to set up shop in Portsmouth, he has no intentions at this time of selling medical marijuana. Stephens said the Your CBD Store chain of which he is a franchisee, frowns on the sale of medical marijuana in its stores.
As for any store in Portsmouth, Stephens admitted there may come a time when he tries to sell what he said can be highly profitable medical marijuana from a store not under the Your CBD Store banner. He did not rule out having more than one location in town. Stephens said he has not picked out any locations in Portsmouth as yet and further admitted he had not checked into local rules regarding CBD or medical marijuana sales, saying he had been concentrating on obtaining a state license for medical marijuana.
Responding to a question from the Daily Times, Acting Portsmouth Mayor Kevin E. Johnson said it appears Portsmouth has no rules on the books regarding medical marijuana sales. Johnson said he talked briefly with Portsmouth City Solicitor John R. Haas. According to Johnson, Haas confirmed the city currently has no rules regarding retail medical marijuana.
Although selling CBD technically has been illegal in the state without a medical marijuana license since at least roughly the middle of 2018, sales of CBD reportedly continue throughout Portsmouth. CBD was previously fairly common on the shelves of e-cigarette or vape shops around town.
Dave Vest of GVapor & More on 11th Street said his store and other GVapor locations around Portsmouth pulled the item off shelves in September when he learned it was no longer legal to sell. However, Vest contends CBD is still being sold in gas stations, vape stores and similar shops all around Portsmouth.
For his part, Johnson said he’s not sure he can oppose a product if it legitimately helps people deal with ongoing medical conditions. However, he also noted Portsmouth sits in at least the foothills of the Appalachian Bible Belt and he said he would be surprised if Stephens store, should he be able to move his plans forward, does not attract opposition.