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Alabama Pharmacies Join the CBD Market

Alabama Pharmacies Join the CBD Market

On June 10, 2019, Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama signed into law the Senate Bill 225, which allows Pharmacies in Alabama to sell CBD Oils and other CBD-infused products containing not more than 0.3 percent THC.

The Alabama Pharmacy Board further states in its guidance: “it is the responsibility of the pharmacy to ensure by trustworthy and scientifically reliable testing that the products sold meet the...criteria.”

Previously, pharmacies in Alabama were not allowed to sell CBD products, even though consumers can still get them at quick marts and gas stations.   

According to proponents of CBD (cannabidiol), which is a non-psychoactive chemical substance found in the cannabis plant, it can help with a wide range of medical conditions such as  epilepsy seizures, chronic pain, PTSD, etc.

The Director of Regulatory Affairs for the Alabama Board of Pharmacy, Susan Alverson said that the reason behind the pharmacy’s earlier prohibition has to do with classification of CBD earlier on.

Previously in Alabama, CBD was registered as a Schedule 1 controlled drug. So regardless of the federal reclassification of CBD and associated products, state law still stood. Since the law has not changed regarding CBD-infused products, the Board of Pharmacy could not give the pharmacies the approval to sell them. 

CBD was legalized in the U.S. in December 2018 when the senate passed the Farm Bill allowing the distribution and consumption of hemp-derived CBD containing no more than 0.3 percent THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis responsible for the “high”).  Since then, hemp has moved from a controlled substance to an agricultural commodity.

What this implies is that individuals are legally authorized to consume CBD.

This legalization of CBD-infused products notwithstanding, the Alabama Board of Pharmacy maintained its stance then, stating that until the Department of Public Health in Alabama removed “Alabama pharmacies and pharmacists must abide by the strictest rule. In this situation, the strictest rule is CBD products containing any THC are a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance under Alabama law.”

When asked why you could not buy CBD at a pharmacy but rather at a gas station even after the passage of the Farm Bill, the Board of Pharmacy has this to say: “While the Board of Pharmacy understand that there are other entities selling these products, the board cannot and does not regular those entities that do not possess a permit with the board nor does the board have the authority to change the status of a controlled substance.”


Is CBD a cure-all ‘medication’?

The continuous increase in the use of CBD for various ailments raises some concerns, according to Alversion. She said: “All in all, there are a lot of questions about the CBD oil itself plus the many components contained within the oil. So many claims have been made for use of the CBD oil and claims about its healing ability. In fact, there is no real documentation for most of the claims. That raises questions; should people use the CBD oil if they do not know if it will work. Is it all right if people use the product and have no benefit? Or is it OK if people use the product, and by-pass more traditional treatment, and then CBD oil has no impact?”

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) not long ago held its first debate on the public use of CBD and they too have their own doubts on the use of CBD for various health issues.

According to Dr. Amy Abernathy, the principal deputy commissioner of the FDA, “Other than one prescription drug product to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy, the FDA has not approved any other CBD-containing products.” She continues: “We want consumers to be aware that there is only limited available information about CBD, including about its effects on the body.”

There are many questions the FDA intends to tackle in her future hearings on CBD such as the adverse effects of long-term exposure (if any), how CBD reacts to other medications, as well as the safe levels for daily CBD dosage.
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