CBD oil – which looks and smells like marijuana, but doesn’t get you high – is legal in North Carolina, and many people use it as alternative medicine. But, many law enforcement officers don’t have the tools to tell the difference between legal CBD and marijuana.
In February, a Four Oaks mom was seriously injured in a car crash.
Amanda Furstonberg, desperate for relief from pain and turned to CBD.
“It helped me tremendously,” said Furstonberg. “I barely took the pain pills that they were prescribing me. It helped me sleep. It helped with the PTSD, the anxiety. I couldn’t function correctly and the hemp flower and the CBD helped.”
Furstonberg says the CBD worked so well she eventually ditched her prescription pills all together.
Everything was going fine until April when the police showed up at her home.
“The cops literally came to the window and said, ‘Where’s the weed?’ And I said, ‘I don’t have weed I have CBD.’ They said, ‘We don’t believe you, so either we’re going to come in or we’re going to get a warrant and it’s going to be worse on you.”
Furstonberg says she allowed the police inside. She tried to tell them what she was smoking wasn’t marijuana at all.
She says she even showed them the CBD packaging.
“They did not believe that,” she said. “They told me I could print it off the internet and that I was lying and that he was trained and that it was marijuana.”
Furstonberg was charged with a schedule one misdemeanor for possession of marijuana.
“I’m not coming down on law enforcement,” said John Fanny, a Raleigh criminal defense lawyer. “They are in a tough position. Marijuana is illegal, so they’re tasked with enforcing those laws they see someone like Amanda who has something that looks and smells like marijuana, what do they do? The only way to deal with that effectively for them is education, maybe a change in policy and ultimately a change in the law.”
Furstonberg’s case is the third case like this Fanny has handled. In one case he was able to get his client off by bringing the CBD products to the district attorney.
“Look at this, how can you distinguish the difference between marijuana and not marijuana? They looked at the packaging, talked with us for a few minutes and then they dismissed the case,” Fanny said.
Garner police say they haven’t run into any cases like this yet, but they did admit they don’t have the capability to tell the difference between the two.
They say the tests they have now only test to see if there is any THC in the product.
CBD can contain THC, but less than 0.3%.
“The only way to absolutely tell the difference between a CBD flower and a THC flower is to send it off to a lab and to have a fairly expensive test done to determine the amount of THC that is in the product,” Fanny said. “It can be done, but it’s very expensive, it’s time-consuming and it uses a lot of state resources.”
CBS 17 also reached out to Four Oaks police, but so far have not heard back.
Fanny says he will take on Furstonberg’s case.
She has a court date in June.
Fanny is hopeful he’ll be able to get the charges dropped. His best advice to people who do smoke CBD, keep it in its original packaging and be careful where you use it.