Rite Aid will start selling CBD products in 2 states, stop selling e-cigarettes in all stores

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Pedestrians walk past a Rite Aid Corp. store in Oakland, California.

Rite Aid said it will start selling CBD creams, lotions and lip balms in Washington and Oregon this month, following other drugstore chains in testing public demand for cannabis-based consumer products, the company announced Thursday.

"Rite Aid has heard from many customers about their interest in purchasing CBD products," the company said in a statement.

CBD products will be sold in more than 200 Rite Aid stores across the two states. Walgreens and CVS also recently introduced similar products in some of their stores. All three drugstore chains will sell topical products.

The non-intoxicating cannabis compound is quickly becoming one of the hottest ingredients in consumer products. It promises to help everything from anxiety to pain even though there is scant evidence backing up these claims.

Retailers are carefully evaluating the market, as federal health officials craft new regulations overseeing the CBD industry. Lawmakers legalized CBD derived from hemp late last year, though the FDA says companies still can't add it to food or sell it as a dietary supplement. Creams, lotions and other products applied to the skin are likely a safer first step for retailers.

Rite Aid also said it's going to stop selling e-cigarettes amid a crackdown on what has been deemed a teen vaping "epidemic," Chief Operating Officer Bryan Everett told analysts on a call discussing the company's fourth-quarter earnings results Thursday. However, Rite Aid will continue to sell cigarettes.

"While many feel [e-cigarettes] are beneficial to those of legal age who are trying to quit the use of tobacco, we have made the decision to remove all electronic cigarettes and vaping products from our offering at all Rite Aid stores," Everett said.

Walgreens has come under fire lately for continuing to sell cigarettes. The FDA called out Walgreens for allegedly selling tobacco products to minors. CVS stopped selling cigarettes nearly five years ago.

Both Walgreens and Rite Aid said they've downplayed cigarette sales in their stores and have emphasized cessation products such as nicotine patches and gums. Yet critics still say health-focused drugstores shouldn't sell products that are the leading cause of preventable death.

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