POCATELLO — A local business owner is under investigation for selling cannabidiol, or CBD, oil from her wedding and events store on Yellowstone Avenue.
City spokesman Logan McDougall told the Journal on Monday that the Pocatello Police Department is actively investigating Katrina Evans, the owner of KATZ, a full-service wedding and event store, for selling CBD oil, which is against Idaho law. McDougall could not comment on specifics of the investigation.
“Pocatello city ordinances do not address the sale of CBD oil and officers have been instructed to defer to state law for guidance,” McDougall said.
The Pocatello Police Department did not immediately respond to the Journal’s request for comment on Monday.
Evans said she first tried CBD a few weeks ago. She said that within 20 minutes of ingesting the compound the pain from a recent shoulder surgery had completely subsided.
Evans began selling CBD oil on Saturday, she told the Journal on Monday. Within the first seven hours, she said she sold out of more than $650 worth of product and was also paid a visit by officers with the Pocatello Police Department.
“The officer took some of the oil, went back to the police station and tested it before returning to my store,” Evans said. “I complied with what the officers asked of me, gave him the samples and showed him my analysis sheets from the company who makes the oil.”
Evans told the Journal that several people called the Pocatello Police Department claiming that she was selling a product that was illegal.
After testing the material at the Pocatello Police Department, Evans said the officer told her that he would need to send the samples off for further analysis in Boise.
Evans had a sign on the sidewalk in front of her business that read “CBD Oil Sold Here.” Evans said she was instructed by the officers on Saturday to add the phrase “100 percent THC free” to her sign and was told she could continue selling the product. She has ordered about $400 worth of the product after selling out of the first batch.
On Monday, however, city officers returned to Evans’ shop, she said, instructing her to refrain from selling the product until the samples are tested. Initially, Evans was told the lab samples would be available by the first of next year. On Monday, she was told the samples are being rushed and should be available by the end of the week, she said.
The predicament that Evans finds herself in is that CBD oil, though federally legal, is not legal in Idaho.
Cannabis, or marijuana, naturally produces more than 80 chemical compounds, called cannabinoids. Included in those compounds are THC, which stands for tetrahydrocannabinol and is responsible for psychoactive effects; and CBD, which is found primarily in extractions from the hemp plant. CBD oil has received national media attention as a substance that can be a homeopathic treatment for many conditions.
Under federal law, hemp plants or seeds are legal in certain circumstances if they contain no more than 0.3 percent THC, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Marijuana plants are also in the cannabis genus, but are manufactured to maximize THC content, which can be as high as 35 percent. Marijuana is illegal under federal and Idaho law.
Idaho statute states, “Evidence that any plant material or the resin or any derivative thereof, regardless of form, contains any of the chemical substances classified as tetrahydrocannabinols shall create a presumption that such material is “marijuana” as defined and prohibited herein.”
The product Evans has been selling is called UltraCell and is manufactured by Zilis LLC, a Texas-based company. Zilis markets UltraCell as a CBD oil that contains zero percent THC.
“All batches of UltraCell are independently tested and verified at the time of bottling to contain less than 0.0 (percent) THC,” the company writes on its website. “Since UltraCell is derived from hemp, one should always assume there are trace amounts of THC in the product.”
While a bill allowing Idahoans to possess CBD oil with no more than 0.3 percent of THC passed the House of Representatives in February, it was referred back to the Health and Welfare Committee where it was eventually stashed before the Senate could vote on it.
In 2015, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter vetoed a bill that would have allowed parents of Idaho children with an intractable form of epilepsy to treat their kids with CBD oil.
Bannock County Prosecutor Steve Herzog told the Journal on Monday that several law enforcement agencies in the county are aware CBD oil is being sold and are working together to figure out how to handle the situation.
“Law enforcement agencies in Bannock County are sitting down, reaching out to other agencies across the state and figuring out how to approach this,” said Herzog, adding that either the county or city of Pocatello could potentially issue a press release about the incidents this week.
A lab test indicating the product does in fact contain zero amounts of THC could put Evans, and several other Southeast Idaho stores that she knows to sell the product, in the clear. But a lab test that reveals the substance does in fact contain any trace amounts of THC could mean those possessing or distributing the substance could be charged accordingly under Idaho law, Herzog said.
In the meantime, Evans wants the public to know that she thought she was operating within the confines of the law and that she never intended to mislead anyone.
“I hope I don’t go to jail,” Evans said. “I got into this because I was assured that it was legal and I just hope that it is. I want people to know that I’m an honest person.”