Confusion continues in Sioux Falls over CBD oil legality

Published: May. 10, 2019 at 5:32 PM CDT
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Is it legal to sell and possesses CBD oil in South Dakota?

That is a question on the minds of many people.

In March, South Dakota State Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg said industrial hemp and all forms of cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil remain illegal in South Dakota.

He said CBD still falls under the definition of marijuana.

But, since then, some state's attorneys said they won't prosecute cases involving hemp or oil.

Hemp is a cannabis plant that can be harvested for CBD, which does not have intoxicating effects.

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp.

This year South Dakota lawmakers eliminated CBD from the state controlled substance schedule: a list of substances which have a high potential for abuse. They did that so it could mirror federal law, but lawmakers didn't change the definition of marijuana.

Earlier this year Governor Kristi Noem vetoed a bill to legalize industrial hemp which would have legalized CBD oil.

This created a gap in South Dakota’s controlled substance law, causing a headache for businesses and their customers.

People say CBD oil helps manage stress, anxiety, sleep, panic attacks, seizures, and pain.

“We had a guy come in who was an amputee and he said my last hope is CBD oil,”

co-owner Joshua Sopko said. “For that reason alone, is one of the reasons we want to sell this stuff to people. So we can give them the relief that they are looking for.”

In a joint statement, the state's attorneys for Minnehaha and Lincoln counties said recent legislative changes have left a gap in the controlled substance framework.

That’s left the legality of CBD oil open to interpretation.

Currently, they are reviewing all cases involving CBD oil on a case by case basis.

“It’s a very gray area,” Wayne and Mary’s Nutrition Center general manager Tara Whiting said. “You have state officials, city officials, and legislators with differing opinions on how to interpret this law.”

“It just kind of makes us nervous,” Sopko said. “We get people come in and say can you even sell this stuff? What happens if I buy it?”

Sioux Falls attorney Scott Swier said there's no easy answer.

“When it comes to selling or possessing CBD oil, we are advising people to err on the side of caution until this gap somehow gets resolved,” Swier said.

Wayne and Mary’s Nutrition Center was one of the stores asked to take their CBD products off their shelves by a Sioux Falls detective.

“Our customers have come in by the dozens,” Whiting said. “Every single day they've been coming in and calling, asking when we can have CBD back.”

Whiting and Sopko said many of those customers said CBD oil helped end their dependence on opioids, ADHD medication, and migraine mediation.

“They were really working for our customers,” Whiting said. “It is emotionally wrenching having customers come in crying because we cannot provide them with this product that was giving them such relief.”

Swier adds there is a possibility that the Attorney General’s Office could prosecute a case involving CBD oil, even if a state's attorney didn’t choose to prosecute.

Tim Bormann, the Chief of Staff for the South Dakota Attorney General said they believe a state’s attorney knows what works best in their county and won’t get in the way.