A hazy lounge and three snakes — two pythons and a boa constrictor — greet customers at Norse Vapor in downtown Casper. The shop sometimes gives police officers pause, co-owner Steven Howe said, and it’s not the exotic pets that catch their eye.
The business offers cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, vaping products. Howe said he can sell the items because they contain “straight CBD” without any THC — the active ingredient found in marijuana.
But Howe said officers walking by the store often stop and place a quick call to the police department to check on the store’s status.
Under Wyoming law, CBD products that contain trace amounts of THC are treated the same as products like hash oil, wax and other liquid forms of marijuana.
Some lawmakers were hoping to loosen this rule, but a Wyoming legislative committee killed a bill last month that would have allowed adults to possess and use hemp extract as well as authorize a parent or legal guardian to administer hemp extract to a minor or vulnerable adult.
Howe, who followed the bill closely, said he was disappointed that it didn’t pass, as it would have given his business more leeway in the types of CBD oil they could sell.
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But he was still enthused the Legislature even discussed the matter.
“It was a huge step, just the fact that they talked about it,” Howe said.
Jesse Kinion, the manager at Norse Vapor, agreed.
“It’s in the spotlight now,” he said. “This is the first step to what we want to see happen.”
Howe, who uses CBD to help with an old knee injury he sustained playing football in high school, said many of his customers find it beneficial for a variety of reasons. Some think it helps with arthritis, others use it to reduce anxiety or induce sleep.
Though his customers just want to improve their well-being, Howe said there’s still a common “stigma” against CBD products.
“I really think it’s because of the ‘60s and the hippies,” Howe said, explaining that he believes some people automatically think of a lazy stoner when they think of CBD. “In reality, many use it because they think it helps with health issues.”
According to the Hemp Business Journal, sales of products containing CBD, the “nonpsychoactive” component of marijuana, have exploded by more than 1,700 percent since the first state in the U.S. legalized the compound’s use in retail products in 2014.
Since then, 17 states have legalized products utilizing CBD compounds, which can be incorporated in anything from homeopathic remedies for joint and muscle pain — like creams and ointments — to over-the-counter products that can ease the effects of serious neurological conditions, like seizures.
State reporter Nick Reynolds contributed to this report.