Selling CBD oil: Implications for pharmacy owners

There are ways to do it correctly

For many pharmacy owners, having a large section of OTC products is vital to maintaining profitability. Nonprescription product management can be relatively easy with support from wholesalers and profit margins make it well worth the time and energy put into it. But cannabidiol (CBD) oil is not your average OTC product. Choosing which CBD product to sell in your pharmacy can be an intense decision and complying with the legal requirements and restrictions surrounding its sale might be headache-inducing. Done correctly, however, pharmacies can ensure a profitable business model while keeping patients safe from dangerous or low-quality CBD products. 

Beyond choosing a CBD product that provides revenue, care must be given to its quality. When Selma Alami, PharmD, co-owner and pharmacy manager of Mustang Drug in Mustang, Oklahoma was choosing a product to sell in her pharmacy, she focused on picking a product that was of the highest quality, from how the product looked on the shelf to its absorbent technology. “I didn’t want a product that a patient could get at a vape shop or a salon. I wanted it to be exclusive and high-end in terms of quality.” 

Alami paid special attention to the bioavailability of the product she chose and looked for independent potency and purity testing proof. “Most CBD products only have about 6% bioavailability. There are products that have over 80% bioavailability that also provide evidence that what is in their product is what they say it is.”

According to FDA’s website, 22 companies providing CBD products have been sent over 40 Warning Letters since 2015—mostly for problems with misbranding. Some of these products still remain at the top of search engine lists and are promoted by bloggers, and while an FDA Warning Letter does not always mean the product is inferior, the letters could give you clues for products and marketing terminology to be wary of when picking out a brand. 

Federally, OTC CBD oil is considered a schedule I medication, but with many states having recreational and medicinal allowances, the shade of grey concerning what is allowable continues to darken—and depending on the state, the amount of THC allowed in products varies. Owners can minimize risk by consulting an attorney who specializes in business or pharmacy law.

Questions that are more ethical in nature and not necessarily clinical might arise from patients. Alami recalls situations when ethics is at the forefront of the conversation, with patients wondering if she promotes product that make you “high.” “When that happens I just have to talk to them more, it’s a teaching opportunity,” she said. “If you take the time to talk and listen to your patients you can ease any fears they have and they can leave with more knowledge about what CBD oil is and isn’t.” 

For the full article, please visit for the December 2018 issue of Pharmacy Today.