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Customers Justin Daugereau, left, and Julia Shedd, right, look over some of the CBD oils at Cajun Cannabis during their grand opening on Saturday, April 20, 2019 in Lafayette, La..

Regulators have handed out the first permits to allow businesses to sell legal CBD products in Louisiana, as the state's new laws on hemp and CBD products take hold. 

The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco on Monday started issuing temporary permits to sell legal cannabidiol, or CBD products. The agency, which is the new regulator of CBD sellers, said it handed out 20 of the new permits, which will expire next February when permanent regulations are expected to be written. 

The move comes weeks after lawmakers and Gov. John Bel Edwards passed legislation that legalized hemp and CBD products and paved the way for the ATC and Louisiana Department of Health to regulate the sale of CBD products. The state's agriculture department will oversee the growth of hemp. 

CBD is a compound found in the Cannabis plant that does not get users high. Instead, it is used in a wide range of products including tinctures, lotions and even dog treats. It is often extracted from hemp, which is a cousin of marijuana that also does not get users high, and is used in textiles, manufacturing products and other items. Purveyors of CBD products often claim the compound provides health benefits. 

The new permits authorize several liquor stores, gas stations, CBD shops and other retailers to sell the products, according to a list of the businesses provided by ATC. One Baton Rouge retailer, City Mart, received a permit, while none went to Lafayette or New Orleans stores as of Monday. 

CBD was widely available in Louisiana in recent years, but state agencies like the ATC recently began cracking down on sellers, arguing state law did not distinguish CBD from marijuana. Lawmakers made a distinction between the two during the legislative session that ended June 6, and also laid out a host of regulations for CBD and hemp. 

Now, hemp-derived CBD products can be sold if they have less than 0.3% THC, the compound of cannabis that can get users high in large enough quantities. Louisiana's new law bans the sale of hemp or CBD products that can be inhaled or are included in alcoholic beverages. Food products containing CBD are also prohibited until the federal government approves the use of CBD as a food additive. 

“ATC employees have worked diligently to process the influx of CBD applications in just a short amount of time,” ATC Commissioner Juana Marine-Lombard said Monday. “The agency is ready to provide the necessary support for this new industry in Louisiana.”

The health department is in charge of permitting manufacturers of CBD products and registering labels. The ATC will regulate CBD retailers, much like it currently oversees stores that sell alcohol and tobacco. Both agencies are working on crafting regulations for the industry. 

Meanwhile, Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain is currently working on hemp regulations to submit to the federal government for approval. Once approved, Louisiana farmers will be able to grow the crop under a tightly-regulated system at the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry. 


Email Sam Karlin at skarlin@theadvocate.com