ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — The State Department of Law issued a vague warning Thursday to Alaska consumers about the potential risks of ingesting unregulated CBD oil.
"Products containing Cannabadiol (CBD) oil and extracts are being widely sold throughout Alaska but are unregulated and untested in the state at this time," the warning reads. "Due to their lack of traceability, many of these products are of unknown origin."
The warning doesn't make a distinction between known, trusted sources of CBD oil and those that should be avoided.
That's because the state's program to regulate industrial hemp under the Department of Natural Resources Division of Agriculture is still in the bootstrapping process, and as of yet, no growers, processors or marketers of industrial hemp products are registered with the state.
Rob Carter with the Division of Agriculture says the division is working to develop a regulatory framework for regulating hemp derivatives including CBD oil, which is expected to begin rolling out with the start of the new legislative session.
CBD oil products have become widely available as Alaska's retail marijuana industry has expanded, and while marijuana is becoming more closely regulated, CBD products fall in an unregulated gray area.
And concerns about the purity and origin of CBD aren't just confined to state agencies.
"You don't know the extraction process, you don't know the purity, you don't know the origin source, there's all kinds of dynamics at play," said Cary Carrigan, Executive Director of the Alaska Marijuana Association. "It creates a real kind of wild west."
Carrigan says China is the largest producer of CBD on the planet, which adds to industry concerns about the unregulated CBD market.
"That's where the majority of CBD comes from," Carrigan said. "We're getting our CBDs from the same people who put lead paint on children's toys and happy meals."
The DOL warning seems precautionary in nature.
A spokseperson for the Department of Health and Social Services says the department is not aware of any incidents of Alaskans experiencing adverse side effects from the consumption of CBD, but says that doesn't necessarily mean incidents involving adverse side effects haven't occurred.
One similar message was echoed from the Dept. of Law, DHSS, and AMIA: Let the buyer beware.
"Consumers wanting to use CBD will need to do their own research and ask questions," said Clinton Bennett with DHSS.
Carrigan recommends the same.
"When you talk to people, you can tell by who you're talking to what they know about CBD, whether they know where it's sourced, if they can tell you its purity level, if they can tell you where they buy it from, if they know that the people they buy it from are manufacturers that create that CBD," Carrigan said.
Calls to the Department of Environmental Conservation regarding issues related to business were not returned prior to publishing.