North Texas

With CBD, Local Police Are Policing Themselves

Police department warns officers to not take illegal drugs on duty or off

What to Know

  • Larry Moore with the Tarrant County DA's office says all forms of CBD are illegal, even those with no THC, unless you have a prescription.
  • If found in possession of CBD oil, you could face a felony or misdemeanor depending on whether THC is present.
  • The Texas Attorney General refused to give an opinion on CBD oil unless requested to do so by a state official or agency.

Trey Phillips spent more than 17 years with the Fort Worth Police Department, rising to the ranks of the elite SWAT team, before retiring to do what the department now tells its officers not to do – deal with CBD oil.

Phillips and his wife, Dr. Lisa Gardner-Phillips, are not doing this under the cloak of a dark alley, but in broad daylight, along with an increasing number of other proprietors who are selling CBD as an effective treatment for a variety of ailments.

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The legal quagmire evolves around the fact that CBD is made from hemp, a component of the cannabis plant. However, the oil has little or no THC, the intoxicating ingredient in marijuana, another member of the cannabis family.

Legal or not legal, do police use the stuff?

"Absolutely," said Phillips, whose shop is located near downtown Fort Worth.

He said his customers include Fort Worth's finest, who use CBD to relieve the aches, pains and emotional drain of being a police officer.

This officer, along with other people who have used CBD, told NBC 5 Investigates they feel the oil is much safer, and more effective, than the most likely alternatives – prescribed opioids and/or alcohol.

But in Tarrant County, the district attorney's office says any non-prescription CBD is considered illegal – a felony if it contains any THC, a misdemeanor if it doesn't – prompting the Fort Worth police force to warn its officers that, "while on- or off-duty, employees shall not use any illegal drug."

Sgt. Chris Britt, spokesman for the Fort Worth Police Department, said the memo was sent to officers to give them the "correct information" to not use CBD.

Asked if the department would investigate any of its officers caught with the oil, Britt said, "Absolutely."

And while some other North Texas law enforcement agencies have said they are taking a wait-and-see approach, until the state decides definitively on what the law says about CBD, the DA's office in Tarrant County said it believes the law is clear.

"There has been so much misinformation about this stuff that we want the community to know you can't possess it without a prescription," said Larry Moore, criminal division chief for the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office.

If you've been out at all recently, you've likely seen the newest health craze -- CBD oil. But is it legal in Texas? Well, that depends on who you ask.

One police officer in North Texas told NBC 5 Investigates that CBD relieves on-the-job injuries, and that other officers want to use it but are "afraid of the repercussions."

Asked if it impedes an officer's ability to do the job, the officer said, "Absolutely not.

NBC 5 News

Phillips and other merchants who have invested in high-end CBD stores said they feel their product is legal because of a recently passed federal farm bill that has legalized industrial hemp.

But some legal experts said that does not clear the way for all CBD products. States still set their own rules and Texas has not yet authorized hemp farming. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also said it is still against the law to sell the oil in dietary supplements or in food.

NBC 5 News

In Fort Worth, Phillips realizes the risk of one day being paid a visit by his former colleagues in blue, especially in a county where the DA has taken a hard stand on CBD oil.

"There's always that concern. I'm hoping she re-evaluates her stance on it," he said, adding: "We are hoping this doesn't become some kind of political grandstanding."

A CBD user says if the state toughens the laws against the oil there will be an “uproar” and that supporters “are not going to go down quietly.” 
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