PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – A new type of holistic healing is blooming in South Florida and causing people to put down down their pill bottles and opt for a more natural solution called CBD.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabis compound proponents say has all the medical benefits of marijuana but won't get users stoned.
This is because CBD comes from hemp, which is a cannabis plant like marijuana, but unlike marijuana, hemp contains CBD and not THC.
CBD is used to treat everything from chronic pain to migraines, and users say the effects of CBD usually kick in within 45 minutes.
Some South Florida mothers swear by it.
"My son Ravi is 11, and he was born without the center of his brain," said Jennifer Nayak. "It allows him to function in a more calm way."
No prescription is necessary to buy products containing CBD, as they can be purchased online and in stores.
Prices range from about $15 to $175, and CBD is so versatile that it can be eaten, drunk and even worn.
"CBD coming from hemp is benefiting people," said Alex Ordonez, who owns Holistic Hope in Fort Lauderdale. "From grandparents to little kids, even dogs are using it."
Wendy Potler worked as a hair stylist for decades until her chronic pain forced her to retire.
"I started taking it and my pain has gone down," said Potler. "It allows me to sleep at night."
So how is this stuff legal?
In a statement, the Drug Enforcement Agency told Local 10 News that products containing CBD are technically violating federal laws.
"At present, this material is being illegally produced and marketed in the U.S. in violation of two federal laws," the DEA's statement said, in part.
However, legal analysts contend there's a loophole in the law "because it comes from agricultural hemp," said Mark Eiglarsh, a former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney.
"They're selling it as a supplement, not a drug," Eiglarsh said.
"People are putting down the pills because they don't want to be medicated," said Lia Pachi, who is co-owner of City Wide Vape in Hollywood. "We have a ton of people buying it, and it helps."
Business owners who sell CBD products said it's important to do your homework before purchasing it and to make sure that the product is being bought from reputable companies.
"Most people don't know what they're getting, so you must shop at reputable places and demand to see lab results," added Eiglarsh.
In 2015, five smoke shops in the Orlando-area were busted for selling products labeled "CBD," even though they really contained THC.
"We've had times where we've conducted our own tests and our results don't match up with the company we buy from," said Ordonez. "That's concerning, and we made sure those products never hit our shelves."
There are currently several bills being considered by legislative committees in Tallahassee that would remove cannabis from the schedule of controlled substances and allow certain universities to study hemp production.
Below is a full statement from the DEA on CBD, Hemp and "Farm Bill:"
"Media attention has focused on a derivate of marijuana that many refer to as 'Charlotte's Web' or 'CBD oil.' At present, this material is being illegally produced and marketed in the United States in violation of two federal laws: The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). Because it is illicitly produced by clandestine manufacturers, its actual content is uncertain and will vary depending on the source of the material. However, it is generally believed that the material is an extract of a variety of the marijuana plant that has a very high ratio of cannabidiol(CBD) to tetrahydrocannabinols (THC). Because this extract is a derivative of marijuana, it falls within the definition of marijuana under federal law. Accordingly, it is a Schedule I controlled substance under the CSA.
"As with all controlled substances, it is illegal under the CSA to produce or distribute 'Charlotte's Web'/CBD oil (or any other marijuana derivative) except by persons who are registered with DEA to do so. Because 'Charlotte's Web'/CBD oil is not an FDA-approved drug:
• It is a schedule I controlled substance under the CSA;
• It is unlawful under the FDCA for any practitioner to provide the material to human beings under the guise of 'research' without first submitting an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to the FDA;
• The CSA requires that any person seeking to conduct research with the material obtain a registration with DEA authorizing such research;
• The CSA further requires that the researcher obtain the schedule I material from a legally authorized producer.
"All of these requirements (submission of the IND to FDA, obtaining a DEA research registration, and obtaining the material from a lawful source) are essential to protecting human research subjects from the potential dangers of using an experimental drug and are essential to the scientific integrity of the research. Because 'Charlotte's Web' is reportedly being administered to pediatric research subjects, the potential dangers are even more pronounced, making compliance with the FDA IND requirement even more crucial.
"It is important to correct a misconception that some have about the effect of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (which some refer to as the 'farm bill') on the legal status of 'Charlotte's Web'/CBD oil. Section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 authorizes institutions of higher education (e.g., universities) and state Departments of Agriculture to grow and cultivate 'industrial hemp' (defined under the Act as marijuana with a THC content of 0.3 percent or less) for agricultural research purposes where permitted under state law. However, the Agricultural Act of 2014 does not permit such entities, or anyone else, to produce non-FDA-approved drug products made from cannabis. Thus, the CSA and FDCA restrictions mentioned above remain in effect with respect to the production of 'Charlotte's Web'/CBD oil for human consumption."