OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- It's not a high. It's a matter of health. That's what hemp oil users in Kansas are saying, at least.
Prominent lawmakers in the Sunflower State have asked the state to declare cannabidiol illegal. But the owners and customers at one hemp store say their advocates deserve better.
The oil is known as CBD, but users of the popular hemp oil call it a life-changer. County attorneys from two areas of the Sunflower State -- Johnson and Shawnee counties -- are asking Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to declare CBD illegal because they say the ingredients are too close to the ones found in marijuana.
On Monday, a bill was introduced to the state legislature in Topeka, which would make the penalty for possession of CBD the same as it is for holding pot.
“Taking this out of the hands of the public is really kind of criminal,” Brian Pitts, store owner at Phoenix Natural Wellness in Overland Park, told FOX4. “I’m angry. I'm frustrated.”
Pitts is a believer, too. His 17-year-old daughter, Cecilia, registers on the autism spectrum and is prone to drift into a distant, catatonic state. Pitts said using CBD has transformed her into being a productive person.
“To catch her catatonic is really upsetting,” Pitts said while fighting back tears. “We put her on CBD, and she became a new kid. I'd catch her singing in the other room.”
However, on Monday, the shelves in Pitts' store were bare. He's been threatened with a raid, which could potentially land him in jail. Pitts said he’s shipped his entire CBD inventory to a safe location out of state in order to avoid confiscation.
The same thing happened last May, when Mission, Kansas, police went to another Johnson County CBD store and shut it down.
“The people deserve a choice. These laws are antiquated. They're antiquated prohibition laws that don't serve our society. This is not marijuana. This is CBD,” Pitts told FOX4.
Pitts is asking his customers to direct their concerns to the Kansas attorney general himself, and to tell him about the relief this product affords them. Visitors to Pitts’ store can’t buy much right now, but they’re offered a small sheet of paper with contact information for Schmidt’s office in Topeka.
Customers to the Overland Park store are speaking up in support of Pitts and their loved ones who benefit from the oil’s use.
Ceally Smith, a KCMO resident, said her six-year old child who also has autism, is more manageable when he’s given CBD. Smith said without it, her son acts out at school and frequently becomes loud and violent.
“Kansas is trying to undermine the federal law. That's toying with a lot of people's quality of life. We're in America, and we're not built on those values,” Smith said Monday.
Hannah Swanson, an Overland Park native who attends a local university, said she lives with Chron’s Disease and suffers from severe stomach pain without the relief CBD provides.
“It should definitely be available for anybody struggling. My guess is it's about money, in many ways, which I understand,” Swanson said. “A lot of people do misinterpret CBD as getting high or that it has psychoactive effects.”
CBD is legal in 16 states, including Missouri. Another hemp oil store owner recently told FOX4 she caters to many customers who cross the state line in search of CBD.
“Come on, this needs to be looked at very seriously,” Pitts said.
Pitts, who opened that store 10 months ago, said he and his customers know they could be in for a fight, and if that's the case, he said he's ready to stage a march or demonstration in Topeka, meant to show Kansas lawmakers they're wrong.
The current session for Kansas legislators continues on Tuesday. There’s no word as to whether or not this bill will be read.