Hemp-oil sales begin, despite medical-marijuana ban

Boris Shcharansky stresses that he's no outlaw.

The Urbandale businessman is selling what he calls hemp oil — made from a plant that is closely related to marijuana. He knows his customers are using the oil to treat chronic ailments. But he swears he's not peddling medical marijuana before Iowa lawmakers decide whether to legalize such sales.

"I'm not hiding in the shadows with this," he said. "I'm totally out in the open."

His company, Heartland Hemp, has a website from which customers can buy the oil. A local TV station did a glowing feature story in which a customer touted how the oil reduced her daughter's seizures. A legislator even keeps a vial of the stuff on his Statehouse desk.

Iowa has a new law allowing possession of such oil by people with severe epilepsy, but the law makes no provision for distribution of the...

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