A proposed order would ban CBD stores in Chicago from promoting themselves as “dispensaries,” in an effort to distinguish them from state-licensed recreational cannabis stores.
Licensed marijuana companies see the proposal as a way to prevent unregulated competitors from confusing customers. Members of the CBD hemp industry see this move as another example of big cannabis trying to harass them to protect their small market.
Ald’s measure. Brian Hopkins, 2nd, would also ban CBD stores from advertising with the image of a cannabis leaf or bud – as licensed dispensaries are prohibited from doing – or a green cross.
“Some of these unregulated retailers are trying to pass themselves off as legitimate dispensaries,” Hopkins said. “This is false and misleading marketing, and it needs to stop.”
Charles Wu, owner of prescribed CBD hemp grower and retailer in Bridgeview, said he doesn’t usually use the word “dispensary,” but at least one product he sells from an outside supplier uses a leaf logo.
While the Chicago order doesn’t directly affect his business, Wu thinks it’s a sign of how the CBD industry as a whole is being treated.
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“We think it’s harassment,” he said of the bill. “It’s basically big companies trying to maintain their monopolies.”
The licensed cannabis market in Illinois is dominated by owners of just 21 grower licenses. This results in high prices and limited supply, and helps perpetuate the illegal market.
The state also only allows 110 dispensaries, compared to hundreds of stores in other states with legal weed. On Friday, regulators released another 149 preliminary dispensary licenses, which are expected to open by next year. Licensed companies must pay high state fees and taxes and follow strict regulations, such as lab testing, of the kind that CBD dealers typically don’t face.
Before these state licenses were delayed by regulatory issues and litigation, federal and state lawmakers legalized the cultivation of hemp, defined as cannabis containing less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC, the main ingredient psychoactive that gets users high.
The most popular hemp-derived product was initially CBD, which does not get users high. It has been proven to help treat children with severe seizures, and proponents make a host of other claims that it reduces inflammation and pain, which are still being researched.
Meanwhile, hemp processors have developed a series of other derivatives such as Delta-8 THC pr THC-O, which are said to get users high, with milder effects than conventional cannabis.
A proposed state law to regulate these cannabinoids went nowhere. With little publicity, the Illinois Department of Agriculture issued a policy in March banning the production of such cannabinoids from hemp, but retailers generally continued to sell them unabated.