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Cannabis confusion: Federal, state law differences at issue

OKLAHOMA CITY — A haze of questions are clouding a new law that allows people with seizure-inducing illnesses to access oils extracted from cannabis plants.

At issue is whether doctors and patients can legally obtain cannabidiol oil in a state where it’s illegal to grow marijuana.

“There’s just a lot of confusion right now because of the differences between federal and state law,” said Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association in Washington, D.C.

Federal law prohibits shipping or carrying cannabis products across state lines — which critics say likely makes Oklahoma’s new law little more than a symbolic gesture for critically ill children.

The only way Oklahomans can get the oil is to order it from a place where marijuana is legal, or travel to one of those states.

Tim Davis, a spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said legalizing cannabidiol oil is “a new thing.”

“But with it being derived from marijuana, that’s a very touchy subject,” he said.

Davis wasn’t aware of any seizures of cannabidiol oil by DEA, but he noted federal law still bans interstate shipments of cannabis products, and treatments with the oil haven’t been approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“When a company is manufacturing marijuana and marijuana products, and then shipping it across state lines, that’s absolutely something we would get involved with,” he said.