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CVS, Walgreens to Sell Cannabidoil Products Over the Counter

The products offered at CVS and Walgreens will be hemp-based. Getty Images Remember when kale was the hot new health trend?

Well, move over kale and make room for cannabidiol (CBD).

CBD, one of the chemicals found in the marijuana (cannabis) plant, is all the buzz. So hot, that two major retail pharmacies have announced they will start selling CBD products over the counter in some of their stores.

In a statement to Healthline, CVS officials said the company would begin selling hemp-derived CBD products at select stores in seven states. They are California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, and Tennessee.

The products will all be topical creams, sprays, roll-ons, lotions, and salves. CVS will not be selling any CBD supplements or food additives.

Why now?

“CBD is gaining popularity among consumers, particularly those looking for alternative care products,” the CVS statement says.

“We are working with CBD product manufacturers that are complying with applicable laws and that meet CVS’s high standards for quality,” the company officials added.

Walgreens is getting in on the CBD action, too. The company sent this statement to Healthline:

“After a thorough review and analysis, we will be offering certain products containing cannabidiol (CBD) in nearly 1,500 Walgreens stores in select states,” the statement says.

The states are Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vermont, South Carolina, Illinois, and Indiana.

“The CBD-related items we are planning to carry are non-THC containing topical creams, patches, and sprays,” company officials added. “This product offering is in line with our efforts to provide a wider range of accessible health and wellbeing products and services to best meet the needs and preferences of our customers."

Is it legal?

Hemp is different from marijuana in that it doesn’t get you high. It is the tetrahydocannabinol (THC) in marijuana that makes you high.The reason these stores can now offer CBD products goes back to the passage of the Farm Bill of 2018.It made hemp legal at the federal level. But each state was left to craft its own regulations on industrial hemp.The result is a patchwork of laws that vary from state to state.

What can you expect? We asked a couple experts to weigh in on what consumers should consider with CBD products.

Dr. Michele Ross, PhD, MBA, is a neuroscientist, author, and cannabis educator.

She says consumers need to know some basic info.

“These CBD topical products won’t have THC in them,” Ross told Healthline. “They won’t make you high. You won’t fail a drug test.”

“CBD is a potent antioxidant,” she added. “It also reduces inflammation and acne. A lot of people use it for psoriasis and eczema. There’s just so many applications.

”But she cautions, “Just because it has CBD doesn’t mean it is the cure-all for everything. Do your homework on what’s in those CBD creams. There are other ingredients you could be allergic to or they might not be right for you.”

Buyer beware

Dr. Bonni Goldstein is the medical director of Canna-Centers, an author, and medical advisor to

She says consumers have to be vigilant.

“CBD-infused topical products may or may not work to give therapeutic benefits such as pain relief, reduction of inflammation, or resolution of a rash. The results depend completely on the ingredients used to formulate the product,” she told Healthline.

“Potency depends on how many milligrams of CBD are contained in the product and also on whether or not the product contains any of the hundreds of other medicinal compounds from the cannabis plant,” she said.

Goldstein said consumers should read the ingredient list to make sure the product contains no known allergens.

“The amount of CBD should be included on the label as well and, if not, one should assume there is very little, if any, infused into the product,” she said.

“Unfortunately it is ‘buyer beware’ as the FDA has shown that many products they purchased and tested are mislabeled or completely devoid of cannabidiol,” Goldstein added. Is this a big deal? What’s the impact of having two major pharmacy chains carry CBD products in their stores?

Ross said moving the products out of the pot dispensaries and into your corner drugstore is “a huge shift for American culture.”

“It really does help normalize this. If Grandma can go to the store and get it, now the conversation about cannabis is going to be very different,” she said.

“CBD business is already huge. But normalizing the culture around taking these products is going to open the door for more people to feel comfortable investing in these types of businesses,” she explained. “It opens up the possibility for them to be sold in more stores.”

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