Cannabinoid ads pulled from buses

Kemp Lankford, owner of Aurora Apothecary, said he was disappointed the borough pulled his ads off public buses. He said he thinks his products, derived from industrial hemp, are misunderstood. Photo courtesy Kemp Lankford

FAIRBANKS — Ads for a cannabinoid known as CBD were mistakenly posted on public buses and will be removed, according to the Fairbanks North Star Borough transportation director. 

The owner of Aurora Apothecary, a tiny store on Second Avenue that sells ointment, candy and dog treats with CBD, was notified last week. 

At issue is a lack of scientific proof of the effectiveness of cannabidiol, generally referred to as CBD, a nonintoxicating cannabis extract credited with easing a host of medical problems. It is not to be confused with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical in marijuana that gets people high. 

Kemp Lankford, owner of Aurora Apothecary, said the borough returned his money but that he is disappointed. He said he thinks his products, derived from industrial hemp, are misunderstood. 

“Am I a doctor? No,” Lankford said. “Do I sell snake oil? No. It’s very effective. It works for me.”

In December, President Donald Trump signed a bill into law that removed hemp from the federal list of controlled substances, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration put out a statement expressing concern about unproven medical claims being made about CBD.

Warning letters have reportedly been sent to some CBD companies, while a request has been made to the FDA by U.S. senators from Oregon to update its regulations on CBD products. The CBD industry is growing nationwide. In Alaska, authority of CBD products in Alaska falls outside of the authority of the Alaska Marijuana Control Board. Lankford said he holds a general business license. 

“I just want to make a living. That’s all,” Lankford said. “I don’t want to cause any turmoil with the borough.”

Glenn Miller, the borough’s transportation director, said the municipality rejects ads that could spark controversy and that the ads for Aurora Apothecary should not have been accepted. 

The borough rejects advertising that involves alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, adult themes and politics for the Metropolitan Area Commuter System, which is subsidized with federal money. 

“It’s not worth a lot of complaints,” Miller said. 

No one complained about the ads for Aurora Apothecary, he said. 

Lankford said the explanation that he received for the canceled advertising outlined the concerns that have been made by the FDA. He said he purchased the advertising from Last Frontier Mediactive, which the borough contracts with to provide advertising on public buses. General Manager Perry Walley could not be reached for comment. 

Lankford, a veteran of the U.S. armed forces, said his clients include veterans and older people looking for an alternative to prescription painkillers. 

“This is all I am — just a CBD store,” he said. “I want the town to have a choice where they can come and get the CBDs that they need.” 

Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter:@FDNMborough.