The barriers have been broken, the walls torn down. Cannabis products are now being sold by a big box retailer, the mark of legitimacy and normalization in the 21st century globalized world. Except… wait, now they’re not selling them anymore.
On Thursday morning, CW Hemp announced that it’s hemp-derived CBD oil was being offered for sale at Target.com. Indeed, it was, as confirmed by The Cannabist. In its announcement CW Hemp indicated that the event was evidence that CBD products were “going mainstream.”
For a few hours, four CBD products, both capsules and oils, were offered by America’s second largest discount retailer. And then, possibly in reaction to stories in the press regarding the unprecedented sale, Target pulled all these products from their online store, and removed all trace of them from the website.
The Target Corporation then supplied The Cannabis with a written statement regarding their brief CBD purveyance: “We started carrying Charlotte’s Web hemp extract items last week on Target.com. After further review, we have decided to remove it from our assortment.”
Target’s decision to remove the products is not hard to understand. Though there’s some confusion about the legality of hemp-derived CBD, the DEA went ahead and cleared that up last December, officially designating CBD hemp oil as a controlled substance on the basis that “all extracts that contain CBD will also contain at least small amounts of other cannabinoids,” and that even “if it were possible to produce from the cannabis plant an extract that contained only CBD and no other cannabinoids, such an extract would fall within the new drug code.”
What is hard to understand is why in the world Target would have decided to sell CBD oil in the first place. “It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which this is legal,” John Hudak, a Brookings Institution senior fellow specializing drug policy issues told The Cannabist.
“Target is not asking for permission here; they may be in a position to ask for forgiveness.”
As for as color-coded legal metaphors go, this situation definitely fits into shades of gray. Though the DEA has been pretty clear about its stance on hemp-based CBD, the agency has also been sued by the hemp industry on the grounds that, since CBD is neither an illegal substance nor strictly a prescribed medicine, the cannabinoid should be categorized as food.
Target, among many other retailers, offers a plethora of other hemp-derived products, including food, milk, and beauty products.
Photo by Flickr user Mike Mozart