How Naperville code update could clarify legality of hemp

 
 
Posted1/4/2019 5:24 AM

Naperville businesses that want to sell products containing a hard-to-define substance called cannabidiol or CBD are likely to get more clarity soon from the city code on what exactly those products can be.

The city's liquor commission made a unanimous recommendation Thursday that the city council adopt an update to the language in its code prohibiting possession of cannabis and cannabis paraphernalia. The proposed changes would exclude hemp from the definition of cannabis and would add a legal definition of what hemp is, something not included in the code so far, said Senior Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Lutzke.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Removing hemp from the definition of the prohibited substance cannabis would clarify that hemp is legal to possess, Lutzke said.

Then, as long as a CBD-containing product falls under the newly recommended definition of hemp, Lutzke said that means it also would be legal.

If the city council approves the changes to the code, this would comes as good news to the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Colin Dalough, director of government affairs and business development, said the chamber represents businesses that want to sell items such as CBD oils or creams, which increasingly are being used to help with seizures, depression, inflammation and insomnia.

While THC is the psychoactive derivative of marijuana that produces a high, CBD is known as the nonpsychoactive or nonintoxicating derivative. That's part of why chamber leaders want its sale to be clarified as legal.

"We're in favor of this change. The derivatives we saw from hemp are nonhabit-forming, nonhallucinogenic," Dalough said. "We are in favor of certainty that we know what the legality of this is in the city of Naperville."

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The new hemp definition specifies that to be classified as hemp, something must include the plant "Cannabis sativa L." and must have a THC concentration of not more than 0.3 percent. Lutzke said the city's proposed definition of hemp matches the federal government's description of the substance exactly.

Keeping the THC concentration low is what made several liquor commission members comfortable with the proposed update.

"I think our suggested ordinance is perfect as it is for today, pending further evaluation and research," Commissioner Joe Vozar said. "I think the THC limit is the critical piece for me on all of this, and deriving it from the hemp will drive that."

Clarifying that hemp possession is legal could be a first step toward further city regulation of CBD sales, but officials were not ready to make that move Thursday. Lutzke said she expects the federal government to put out more guidance about what qualifies as CBD, which she said now is a "murky area."

Until then, Commissioner Chuck Maher, who said he used a CBD cream once after an issue with his leg, said the city should proceed cautiously because there is little advice about dosage and little assurance of quality for CBD products sold in retail stores.

"The more we get to know about it," Maher said, "the better we'll be able to define it to see if we want to be more restrictive or not."

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