MENTOR, Ohio — Let's first address the often confusing part.
Marijuana can get you high. Its cannabis plant cousin, hemp, cannot.
The plants even look alike. However hemp, by legal definition, cannot have greater than 0.3-percent of THC, the chemical that makes you high.
Both plants contain the compound cannabidiol, also known as CBD.
Hemp-derived CBD products are proliferating across the country, as more states legalize the industry. From CBD bath bombs, to CBD lotions, and CBD-infused water and beer -- a market research firm predicts that the CBD industry could be a $22-billion market by 2022.
So when Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed into law, a bill legalizing hemp and CBD products, local businesses rejoiced.
"It feels better than Christmas," Dee Schumacher said with a laugh.
Schumacher manages the new Your CBD Store franchise inside Great Lakes Mall in Mentor. The store has been open for about a month. While stores all across Northeast Ohio have already been selling CBD products, it has been technically illegal to do so, and most law enforcement had been loath to enforce the law.
"We've been waiting for this for a long time for Ohio," said Schumacher. "It's made a wonderful difference for us."
CBD had been used for inflammation, chronic pain, seizures, and anxiety in both humans and pets. CBD works by attaching to brain receptors that can change things like pain perception and inflammation. It also activates receptors that release the feel-good chemical, dopamine.
CBD tinctures, or extract, can run anywhere from $40 to $100, depending on the strength. The small bottles come with a squeeze-dropper, so the user can measure how much to ingest.
"You drop a few under your tongue, hold for 30 seconds, and swallow," Schumacher instructed.
However, there is no FDA regulation of the industry, and little research on the long-term health impacts. One recent study on CBD usage found a link to liver damage.
Because of the lack of regulation, consumers can't be sure about the quality of what they're buying. Schumacher says her store has stringent third-party tests to ensure that there is no THC in their products.
However, our sister station in Charlotte, WCNC, found a huge range of unreported levels of THC in 5 randomly purchased bottles of CBD that were sent to a third-party testing laboratory.
The station found that the amount of THC per bottle ranged from 0.027 milligrams, which is considered an insignificant amount by lab standards, to 30.5 milligrams, which could lead to a buildup of THC in a person's system that may be detected in a drug test.
Until more research is done and regulations are in place, consumer experts warn buyer beware.