HOUSTON (FOX 26) - The owners of eight Houston-area Total Nutrition stores say they stopped selling CBD oil twelve days after they started sales due to legal questions.
CBD oil, which is a hemp extract, is a popular new product at several nutrition shops throughout the Houston area. Hemp is part of the same cannabis plant family as marijuana, which also contains the oil.
CBD oil arrived on Total Nutrition store shelves in January. The owners added the product to their inventory because it is touted as having anti-inflammatory properties, improving sleep, decreasing anxiety and even helping people recover from chemotherapy.
For the few days it was in stores, the item sold fast.
“Huge demand and we can’t fill that demand right now,” said Drew West, co-owner of the Houston-area Total Nutrition store chain.
West said the product flew off the shelves for twelve days, that is until a police officer happened to shop at one of the store locations and shared a word of advice.
“'Hey guys, I would advise against that,'" said West, recalling what the officer told him. "'I’m a local police officer, and if we see fit, we can arrest you for having marijuana.”
The officer's advice ran contrary to the legal advice the store owners received before deciding to sell the product.
“We actually had a lawyer tell us that it is good," said West. "It’s fine as long as it’s from hemp, and it has to be an isolate, and we found one.”
CBD oil is legal. The issue is that many CBD oils contain trace amounts of THC, the chemical in marijuana that gets you high.
“It’s really simple in Texas -- CBD oil that contains THC is an unlawful substance in the state of Texas,” said FOX 26 News senior legal analyst Chris Tritico. “You can go and buy hemp oil without THC. It’s perfectly lawful.”
Many hemp CBD oils contain less than 0.3 percent THC, which is not enough to get you high but possibly enough to break the law.
Total Nutrition owners decided they would rather be safe than sorry and are holding off on sales.
“We did not want to take part in it until we find out from our lawyers that we paid thousands of dollars for," said West. "It’s up in the air. We have some people telling us yes, and we have some people telling us no. Even the district attorney, we called, and they didn’t give us a straight answer.”
Wholesale Nutrition Center is one Houston shop that is still selling CBD oil. Owners and managers declined an interview with FOX 26 but did say that they got a fresh shipment of the product on Wednesday after they had sold out of it.
Houston police told FOX 26 on Wednesday that they are investigating various businesses around the city that sell CBD oil. They say they have sent the product from several stores to a lab for testing. Police say some has come back positive for THC and some has not.
Total Nutrition says dozens of shoppers have asked for CBD oil in the past month or so, but the owners are holding off until it’s more clear which CBD oils are legal and which ones are not.
“This is our livelihood and we didn’t want one product to take that away from us," said West.
Herb -N- Legend is one of several smoke shops in the Houston area that also sell the oil. Staff in the store told FOX 26 their CBD oils do contain THC, but the chemical content is so low that you would have to drink three-to-four bottles, which is 90-to-120 servings, in one day in order to fail a drug test.