BARELY LEGAL: What is CBD?

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — You see the signs everywhere for CBD.

Is it a form of marijuana, and if so, how is it even legal?

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It’s supposed to have a laundry list of health benefits.

Elisha Millan opened Grass Roots Health in Chattanooga about two years ago, and recently opened a second store in Fort Oglethorpe.

She says she got into the CBD business because she has several severe health issues, including Crohn’s Disease and arthritis.



The chemical medications she was taking early on didn’t help.

“My mom brought me a capsule of CBD, and I started taking it, and started feeling better,” Millan said. “I’m a person that operates on a guilt complex, and then I started figuring out that not everyone has this, and so my guilt drove me to making sure everyone had the same opportunity that I did to take this medicine.”

Millan says she runs her CBD store like a pharmacy.

It’s gotten busier lately, with more people learning about the benefits she swears by.

“There’s definitely an uptick in the awareness of CBD, and people are seeing the results that their friends and even pets are getting from taking it, and it makes everyone more open and more willing to try it,” she said.

She says CBD in any form helps with anxiety, sleep, pain, and more.

You can get it in the form of flower, oils, topicals, capsules, and even food.

The flower looks like marijuana, and even smells like it, but it’s not the same thing.

“CBD is one of over 400 components in both the cannabis plants, meaning both hemp and marijuana,” she said. “CBD, cannabidoil, is used for a variety of functions. One is anti-inflammatory. It helps also reduce pain, and reduce anxiety. It’s not intoxicating, so you’ll be getting all the medical benefits without any of the intoxicating side effects. It will not get you high.”

Millan says you can’t overdose on it like prescription drugs or illegal drugs, but taking too much of it can make you drowsy.

“There is no clinical overdose on CBD,” Millan said. “We like to joke and say overdose is a nap.”

CBD comes from the hemp plant, which is legal in all 50 states.

“It first became illegal under the 2014 Farm Bill, but the 2018 Farm Bill just passed in December really strengthened the place of CBD, and totally removed it from the FDA’s schedule of drugs,” Millan said. “FDA’s schedule of drugs still has things like Tylenol and Aspirin on it. CBD is so safe, it was completely dropped off the schedule.”

Millan says that’s why you’re seeing so many more businesses in our area and across the country selling CBD products.

She says it not only brings health benefits, but economic benefits too – with jobs in retail and farming.

Chattanooga natives Cullom Boyd and Jimmy Schwartz started Haygood Hemp Farms about two years ago, and their business is growing – literally.

“We’ve expanded to some new greenhouses, some new land, and a commercial site to store our products,” Boyd said.

“I think it’s extremely exciting because the Southeast is kind’ve catching up to some of the other states of the country, and it is an agricultural commodity that can have numerous amounts of benefits, so why not incorporate this plant into our agricultural program?” Schwartz said.

It’s not easy work, but they do it because they love the plant, and working in dirt.

Boyd and Schwartz say it takes them about one year to make their products, from planting to distribution. They will plant from June through September, and distribute their products in Chattanooga and throughout the region.

To grow hemp, Boyd says you apply to get a license with the state, which only takes three to four months.

“You just apply to TDA,” Boyd said. “It’s a simple fee for acreage or indoor space. They’re great to work with. They have inspectors that come out, do the inspections when you call them, and you pay the fee, and they regulate it.”

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture says in 2017, 79 licenses were approved for growing hemp. In 2018, that number increased to 226, and skyrocketed to more than 2,900 licenses issued this year.

“It’s a new frontier,” Schwartz said. “There’s no reason to fear it.”

Coming up Thursday night on Prime News at 7 and News 12 Now at 11, we’ll tell you more about the laws on the books in Tennessee and Georgia that impact CBD.

You’ll also hear from a lawyer on why these different laws can cause problems for potential users, even though it’s legal.