Business has been steady at Boulder Mountain Botanicals on Main Street in Hailey since it opened on Nov. 16. It’s the first retail store in Blaine County dedicated to the sale of products made from hemp, a close cousin of marijuana.
But unlike marijuana, which has more tetrahydrocannabinols, or THC—and therefore greater psychoactive properties—Boulder Mountain Botanicals focuses on cannabidiol products, or CBD, which proprietor Paul Hopfenbeck says has myriad healing uses.
Hopfenbeck said he started using CBD when he had cancer and was going through a divorce. He said the therapeutic effects have been beneficial.
“It allowed me to sleep peacefully through the night,” Hopfenbeck said. “Any time you can take a step away from Tylenol and ibuprofen and use a natural product with good anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties, that’s a good thing.”
Still, some products for sale at the store are illegal under state law, and county law enforcement practices regarding the products remain uncertain. Customers take a risk in shopping there for potentially illegal merchandise.
Many stores in the Wood River Valley now offer CBD lotions, soaps and ointments. Idaho Lumber and Luke’s Pharmacy in Hailey have offerings. The Sun Valley Resort Spa offers a CBD and arnica massage experience. Luke’ Pharmacy’s over-the-counter offering without THC runs about $40 for a month supply. It was recommended for many ailments, including anxiety and depression.
Idaho law regarding hemp and marijuana has not changed in decades. It continues to prohibit “any quantity” of THC, the substance that induces mood changes and potential hallucinations. But, scientifically, hemp and marijuana are not considered to be separate plant species, which can make it hard to determine what is legal in Idaho and what is not. A 2015 Idaho Attorney General’s Office opinion states that for CBD to not be considered marijuana, it must be derived from the mature stalks of a plant or the plant’s seeds
The Attorney General’s Office recently posted a podcast with comments by state officials detailing legalities of CBD and law enforcement, which is the purview of county prosecutors and sheriffs in each of Idaho’s 44 counties. One challenge for law enforcement is the complexity of testing for THC and the difficulty of finding out what part of a hemp plant has been used during a product’s manufacture.
A 2018 federal Farm Bill passed into law allows for the interstate transport of hemp products that contain 0.3 percent or less THC, but Idaho has only authorized transport of one specific product for epilepsy and continues to prohibit THC. The podcast states that although Idaho has not changed regarding THC or CBD, the public impression is that it has.
Jamie Truppi is a local functional nutritionist with master’s degree who recommends and sells CBD to her clients for chronic stress and sleep disorders.
“It’s incredible also for psychosomatic conditions like chronic pain,” Truppi said.
Truppi said the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill caused a stir among hemp advocates.
“The hemp business boomed overnight,” she said.
Hopfenbeck said he sells both non-THC products and those that contain up to 0.15 percent THC, all of which are made from organic hemp and supplied by a partner who owns USA NanoTech Botanicals. He said a minimal amount of THC produces an “entourage effect” that boosts the beneficial effects of CBD.
Whether or not the county shuts him down is yet to be seen. Calls to the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office, Hailey Police Department and the county Prosecuting Attorney’s Office were not answered definitively by press time.
“I am pushing the boundary,” Hopfenbeck said. “Idaho is an island within more progressive states, including Nevada and Oregon, and we are putting a product out there that has none of the hallucinating effects of cannabis and THC.”
The Attorney General’s Office said that while testing and enforcement remain complicated, it may step in at some point when and if the CBD industry faces increased regulations over the claims producers make about its therapeutic effects.
“That could be an issue for our consumer protection division,” the podcast states.
For the full AG podcast, go to ag.idaho.gov/content/uploads/2019/06/Episode-3-Final.mp3.