This past week, a 71-year-old Dallas woman was arrested for possession of CBD while attempting to board a flight to visit her granddaughter. Lena Bartula’s next 48-hours would be spent sleeping on the floor of her jail cell as she faced felony drug charges for possession of a controlled substance, a maximum 20-year sentence.
CBD, a hemp-derivative containing trace amounts of THC, is commonly used to curb a litany of medical aliments such as insomnia, arthritis, and different types of chronic pain. Recently CBD was approved to treat certain childhood epilepsy syndromes after the FDA certified Epidiolex CBD, in 2018. Even in states where marijuana remains illegal, CBD can be purchased at local convenience stores and gas stations, some restaurants even serve CBD-infused food and drink. But Bartula’s story serves as an unfriendly reminder that not all states are welcoming of it.
In an unrelated incident, a 69-year-old grandmother was also taken into custody when security staff at Walt Disney World discovered CBD oil in the women’s purse. Since the Farm Bill passed at the tail-end of 2018, confusion around the legality of CBD has been pervasive. In Texas and Florida, the countless businesses selling CBD products are doing so completely unaware of the fact that state law still prosecutes it as a schedule 1 drug. Beyond the business owners facing raids and arrests, the financial institutions serving them face legal woes of their own. Under the Bank Secrecy Act financial institutions that fail to properly report transactions with MRBs – businesses selling marijuana and/or CBD – can be charged with money-laundering. Depending on the severity, board members and executives of the institution may also be brought up on charges for racketeering.
While improbable in most circumstances, the lack of uniform legislation continues to allow stories and risks as these to remain possible. But with substantial progress coming from The Hill recently, greener pastures may be closer than they seem.
(Read more about Safe Banking Act Progress)