IDAHO FALLS – State officials are requiring businesses that sell CBD products to remove items for animals, effective Nov. 1.
Idaho House Bill 126 passed last year legalized the licensed production and handling of industrial hemp. CBD is a molecule extracted from industrial hemp. Under the law, the sale of CBD products is legal, providing it does not contain THC, the element known for getting people high.
The Idaho State Department of Agriculture says the law does not include animal feed products.
In a letter to animal feed retailers, manufacturers and distributors dated July 20, the department says the production and sale of “hemp or hemp-derived products, including CBD, are not recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the Association of American Feed Control Officials as legal feed ingredients.”
“Safe levels of hemp and hemp-derived products in animal feed have not yet been established under federal or state law. As such, these products are not approved feed ingredients and cannot lawfully be added to or incorporated into commercial feed,” the letter says.
Treats, remedies and supplements are included in the ISDA’s definition of animal feed products.
James Rupp, who owns Nugget CBD at 625 Pancheri in Idaho Falls, tells EastIdahoNews.com animal treats and supplements make up 25-30% of the shop’s business and a pet calming chew is the No. 1 selling item this year.
“People are coming back and saying ‘This is what’s working for us and we need to utilize it more,'” Rupp says.
Rupp is not a doctor and neither he nor the business make any claims or guarantees about CBD products being able to cure or treat specific conditions. And there is a disclaimer when customers purchase products that it “is not evaluated by the FDA” and “is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”
But Rupp has heard many customers tell him that CBD has had a life-changing affect on their pet.
“I had a lady come in and say that her vet told her that her dog had about a month to live. Seven months later, she went back to her vet and he was like, ‘What did you do? This wasn’t supposed to happen.’ She said, ‘I have him on CBD now.'” Rupp explains. “We both started tearing up. I’ve had many people come in (who’ve shared similar stories) and we cry together.”
Not being able to sell animal products is going to have a significant impact on customers, he says.
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Snake River Solace at 691 East Anderson sells similar CBD pet products. Its owner, Cody Hellickson, says they never received the ISDA’s letter because his company is exempt from the animal feed ban.
“We were completely unaware of this subject until just recently,” Hellickson says. “We’ve contacted the proper channels of the government from the bottom to the top. We have discussed in-depth and in-length what is needed to be exempt. We were told that if you continue to do things the way you’re doing them, you are exempt from the current ruling.”
He declined to elaborate on the specific business practices that led to the exemption.
Still, Hellickson says the animal feed ban is “disheartening” because many people are seeing a benefit from these products.
Many people view CBD oil as an effective health aid. With the passage of laws legalizing hemp-derived products in recent years, interest in hemp-based animal products has grown significantly.
The idea behind ISDA’s decision banning the sale of CBD animal products is a concern about its potentially harmful effect on animals bred for human consumption.
“Under Idaho Law, the ISDA is charged with ensuring commercial feeds for livestock and pets are safe, nutritious and labeled correctly. Idaho code 25-2712 states that is unlawful to ‘manufacture or distribute any commercial feed that is adulterated or misbranded.’ Therefore, pursuant to state law and consistent with the FDA and AAFCO, the ISDA has not approved hemp or hemp-derived products for animal use,” the letter says.
Rupp says all of his animal products are geared towards pets and are not used for food-producing animals. As a result, he feels the ISDA’s requirement is a mischaracterization of the law and should not apply.
“They’ve just grouped everything together and said it’s all animal products, (but) it doesn’t specifically say (one way or the other),” says Rupp.
Hellickson agrees, and the fact that he is exempt and other businesses are not is proof to him that the law isn’t clear on this issue. He says further education and discussion is needed.
“People need to understand that hemp and CBD are two different things,” Hellickson says. “We were blown away that industrial hemp was legalized for production, processing and growing, but nothing was clarified in the bill about CBD oil. With this ban … clients are (now) going to be ordering products online from out of state.”
The ISDA acknowledges in its letter that further research is needed and that industry experts are coming together “to develop uniform regulation” on this matter.
While Rupp intends to comply with the ruling, he wants his customers to continue to have access to products they’ve found beneficial. He’s inviting clients to share their experience with CBD animal products in a testimonial questionnaire provided at all four Idaho locations.
From there, he plans to share it with officials in hopes of redefining the law.
“We hope to be able to clarify before November 1, but if we don’t, we’re still hoping in the future to get them to overturn that and redefine (the law),” Rupp says.