DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Law enforcement officials in Dubuque County are giving businesses the chance to stop selling CBD products illegally. County Attorney CJ May III sent cease and desist letters to anyone known to have the products.
CBD stands for Cannabidiol and is the part of the marijuana or hemp plant known to have a variety of health benefits, especially for children with epilepsy. By itself, it doesn't cause a person to get high. However, Marijuana is illegal in Iowa unless you have a state-issued medical card and get your supply from one of the state's five dispensaries.
Many businesses in Dubuque have started selling various CBD oils, lotions, and other supplements. In 2018, TV9 spoke with the Dubuque Police Department about the legality of these sales. At that time, Assistant Chief Jeremy Jensen said it was legal as long as the products contained no THC. That's the chemical in marijuana that causes a high.
However, Sheriff Joe Kennedy says a letter from the Iowa Attorney General cleared things up. The letter explains the sale of any CBD product, no matter its THC level, is in fact illegal.
"According to Iowa State law, anything that is a derivative of the hemp or marijuana plant is considered to be marijuana under state code," said Kennedy. Therefore, CBD is illegal too.
Among the business owners to receive a letter in Dubuque is Cally Burkle. She owns B1 Yoga in Dubuque and began selling hemp and CBD products in her store. After studying the law, she realized what she was selling was illegal and removed the products from her store.
However, she then started to see other businesses openly advertising the sale of CBD products around town. That prompted her to put her products back on her shelves.
“I watched that happen for six months and I thought it was okay so I put the product on my shelf thinking that the local law enforcement didn’t really care," Burkle explained.
But then she got a letter. Now she doesn't sell the CBD products in Dubuque, but in East Dubuque, Illinois at Van's Liquor Store. Her company is called B1 Hemp and is based across the river. Burkle can't understand why Iowa has made CBD illegal.
"It’s giving people relief. It’s making people feel human, which is really important," she said. "Ultimately, it’s not making anyone high. It’s not posing any threat or danger to society. You could take CBD and get in your car and be fine.”
She hopes lawmakers will change the law when they reconvene next year.
“I would hope that you know they would see the sales tax benefits and the revenue that could come out of selling CBD because it is a booming business," said Burkle.
Now that the letters have been sent out, Kennedy says he's meeting with May next week to see how he'd like law enforcement to handle those who haven't complied.
“We can only do the enforcement. We need the county attorney’s backing to make sure these cases go through, otherwise, we’re just out there looking like the bad guy," Kennedy said.
You can read the original version at kcrg.com.