Investigators from the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office (AMCO) surprised seven different pot shops across Alaska earlier this month with raids focusing on, of all things, cannabidiol oil. Thousands of dollars worth of goods were seized in the midst of what AMCO representatives have called an “ongoing investigation.”

Owners of the targeted shops were alarmed and, in some cases, claimed they did not even realize they were carrying a regulated substance on their shelves. “It was my understanding that hemp products and this product in particular were okay,” Lily Bosshart, owner of Anchorage shop Dankorage, told The Fix. “I was unaware that this would be an issue. I wouldn’t be selling it if I thought it would be a problem.”

AMCO states that the CBD oil these shops carried were not up to regulations. “If it’s a marijuana product under our law I think we have a problem because it doesn’t seem to be packaged or tested or tracked according to Alaska regulations,” said Harriet Milks, a lawyer representing AMCO. “If it’s not marijuana under our law, that’s a different story.”

The investigation into these shops began after AMCO received a tip-off from postal workers. Employees of the United States Post Office discovered packages shipped internationally which had contained more than 1,000 vials of CBD extract. Some of the vials were apparently leaking.

AMCO investigators subsequently visited the seven pot shops to look into any connection between them and the packages shipped from another country. The question remains: why in the world would these pot shops pay international shipping costs and perhaps risk drug trafficking charges when they could presumably buy CBD oil that was made more or less legally right in their home state.

Owners of the seven shops are currently awaiting word about the next step in the investigation and will have to meet with the Alaska Marijuana Control Board. As for the confusion over the legality of CBD extract in the state, AMCO Chief Investigator James Hoelscher says that if cannabis purveyors don’t know if their product is legit or not, “all licensees need to do is pick up the phone.”

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