A Gray Area in the “Tobacco 21” Law

Local News

A federal law that went into effect back in December may leave some grey areas open.

The legislation, known as “Tobacco 21”, increased the legal age at which you can buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.

One smokable plant fell through the cracks: hemp.

It’s been legal since late 2018, and it’s available at a newly opened dispensary in the capital city. For the time being, if you’re at least 18, you can buy and smoke hemp.

Ignite Dispensary’s Co-manager Casey Mcrae says in any form, the CBD derived from hemp has many health benefits.

“Sleep, for seizures, aches, and pains…” he listed.

He says smoking always has a downside, but that hemp doesn’t compare to the damage a cigarette can cause or the addictive potential.

“Just because our bodies aren’t made to inhale smoke like that. So no, nothing in life is 100 percent perfect, but with all the benefits you have, especially when looking at prescription medicine: yes it helps us, but can be negative on this side,” he explained.

“It will damage your lungs. Inevitably, it will damage your lungs,” said Sanford Pulmonary Critical Care Physician, Dr. Anthony Tello.

Federal and state law makes no mention of hemp. The only effect that the North Dakota Century Code has on hemp smoke– is that the smoking of any kind of plant product is banned inside public places.

“It’s the smoke and the oil,” Dr. Tello explained. “We already know that vaping is extremely harmful to the lungs, maybe not as concentrated. But you’re still smoking it into your lungs and it’s coating your lungs. So we don’t know what the longterm effects are going to be.”

Dr. Tello agrees with the new tobacco laws and wishes hemp would fall under them.

“There’s nothing worse than seeing an individual…a young individual, struggling to breathe,” he shared.

Mcrae says, personally, he also has concerns about anyone with a developing brain smoking anything, but he also understands that this is currently a right that 18 to 21-year-olds have.

“It is a risk, it’s something that we need to be talking about as a community, as an industry, as a nation. But as far as whether it’s right or wrong, that’s not for me to say,” he added.

Mcrae and Dr. Tello say the research is just very young for hemp CBD products in general. But as far as smoking hemp goes, they agree, the risk is there, but how much of one, we just don’t know yet.

Dr. Tello says the safest way to use CBD right now is likely applying it topically, as in anything you can rub on your skin.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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