Cary police say they did not arrest a man because they thought his gummies contained cannabidiol, or CBD, a marijuana molecule with purported health benefits.
They say they arrested Ayman Tamim Numman Alqazah, 47, of Apex because they suspected his gummies, all 241 pounds of them, contained THC, the marijuana molecule that produces a high.
“We had a positive hit on the packages,” said Cary police Capt. Randall Rhyne, head of criminal investigations.
Those packages, four in all, were at a United Parcel Service terminal in Raleigh when one of them fell open, according to court documents. The packages, which had arrived on a truck from Florida, were destined for a self-storage facility on SW Cary Parkway, which is why UPS called Cary detectives.
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A Cary police canine detected drugs in the packages, Rhyne said, and after police tracked the packages to Alqazah, they charged him with felony trafficking in marijuana.
“We believe those gummies contained THC, and that’s why he was charged,” Rhyne said. “That’s what our preliminary testing indicated.”
Rhyne said police have sent the gummies to a lab for testing and expect the results back in two to six weeks.
CBD on its own doesn’t produce a high, although products infused with the substance can contain trace amounts of THC. So will Cary police back off the charges against Alqazah if the gummies have only a bit of THC, or none at all?
“We would have to discuss that with the district attorney,” Rhyne said.
In a phone interview, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said she could not immediately say what her office would do if tests of the gummies turned up CBD but not THC. That question hasn’t crossed her desk before, she said.
But “we would pursue the charge” if reviews of relevant statutes showed that CBD was clearly on the wrong side of the law, Freeman said.
Such a review might not give the DA’s office much clarity. In December 2016, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration put a “controlled substance” label on CDB extract, which is derived from hemp. But the agency hasn’t backed its opinion with stepped-up enforcement, and the courts and a federal Farm Bill have cut industrial hemp some slack.
The ambiguity over the law might help explain why hemp stores are popping in in Triangle, including the recently opened Hemp Farmacy in Raleigh.