One of the biggest confusion consumers have is whether CBD oil is legal or not. Unfortunately, it’s not a straight forward yes or no answer. Furthermore, things are changing rapidly across the country, making it even harder to keep up with the current status at any given time.
CBD oil has been steadily gaining popularity due to the many therapeutic benefits it is able to provide without causing intoxication. For people looking to enjoy the health benefits of the cannabis plant without getting high, CBD oils would be a prime choice.
However, even though CBD is not psychoactive like THC, it would be incorrect to assume that it is entirely legal under United States law. Overall, the precise legality of CBD products is a very complicated issue. Let’s shed some light on the current, often murky, laws regarding CBD.
Cannabis & Marijuana Laws
Since CBD is a constituent of the cannabis plant, we must first review the laws referring to cannabis and marijuana. Although marijuana has been classified as a Schedule I substance since 1970, individual states have since instituted their own laws on its recreational and medicinal use.
As of this writing, ten states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) have legalized cannabis for both medical and recreational use. In these states, cannabis products can be easily purchased by those who are of legal age, either online or at dispensaries.
In addition to the ten states where marijuana is completely legal, 23 states allow for medicinal marijuana use. In 12 other states, marijuana is still illegal. Some states have also “decriminalized” marijuana, and similar legislation has been passed eliminating criminal penalties for CBD.
As an aside, federal law supersedes state laws according to the Supremacy Clause, but the federal government and the DEA rarely interfere with matters involving marijuana/cannabis use.
Is CBD Oil Legal? What Are CBD-Specific Laws?
CBD derived from hemp contains less than 0.3% THC. Although some states place restrictions on marijuana use, CBD is often allowed under certain rules and regulations. In some cases, CBD is the only accepted form of legal cannabis.
In states such as Texas, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Kansas, CBD oil made from hemp (with less than .03% THC) is legal. In Ohio, only CBD oils sold from licensed dispensaries are considered legal.
In states such as Wyoming, South Carolina, and Mississippi, CBD products are typically only authorized for patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy, as long as they contain less than the legal limit of THC. In Virginia and Wisconsin, CBD can be used to treat any condition as long as it is approved by a physician or doctor. In South Dakota, the only form of CBD allowed is the FDA-approved drug Epidiolex.
If you are looking into any CBD products, we would advise that you review your state’s specific laws on CBD.
The 2018 Farm Bill… Is Hemp Legal Now?
The passing of the Farm Bill in late 2018 was a big step forward for CBD. With this bill, hemp, its derivatives, and THC contained in hemp were all removed from the Controlled Substances Act. The bill also made hemp and hemp-derived products legal for sale, transport, or possession, albeit under several regulations and restrictions. Hemp cannot contain more than .03% THC, and can only be grown by licensed cultivators who must discard any cannabis plants exceeding this limit.
Although the Farm Bill legalizes hemp on the federal level, it doesn’t make all forms of CBD legal. CBD and other cannabinoids are only considered legal if they are produced in compliance with the Farm Bill, and if not, they are still considered to be a Schedule I substance. Therefore, CBD produced derived from marijuana or by an unlicensed hemp grower will still be illegal. While the Farm Bill marked an important step in the legalization process, additional legislation must be passed before CBD is truly legal.
Why Does CBD Oil Have Such a Confusing Legal Status?
CBD is non-intoxicating, non-addictive, has scientifically-backed health benefits, and is even accepted as a sole source of medicinal marijuana, so why is its legality so complicated?
One of the main issues is due to confusion over classifying CBD as a health supplement or a medicine. According to the FDA, any product intended to have a therapeutic or medical use is a drug. Many CBD products are marketed as health supplements, but are still used by people with serious conditions as a primary method of treatment, which also makes it a medicine. CBD is not psychoactive like THC-based products, so it has additional viability as a medicine, but its manner of use is still interchangeable.
It is also important to note that CBD products have a history of being mislabeled. If the contents of a CBD oil product are not verified by a third-party lab, it’s possible that it could contain potentially dangerous additives or more than the legal amount of THC. A lack of FDA regulation makes it impossible to make sure that all CBD oil products are quality, additive-free, and in accordance with the Farm Bill, which is why its legal status remains complicated.
CBD Oil’s Future Legality
Even though CBD oil is technically not fully legal in the United States, recent trends suggest that full legalization could be coming soon. The complete legalization of CBD oil will require better regulation of CBD products by the FDA, more research on CBD’s effects in humans and animals, and increased awareness by legislators. The 2018 Farm Bill could allow researchers to more readily access CBD for studies, which might hasten the legalization process.
A likely scenario in which CBD oil is legalized will be if specific standards for its preparation are approved by the FDA and DEA. This way, the contents of CBD oils would be verifiable. In addition, there’s also the potential that CBD will be rescheduled under the Controlled Substances Act, while cannabis as a whole remains the same. Given that THC is currently listed on its own as a controlled substance, it’s reasonable to assume that CBD and other cannabinoids could be rescheduled independently.
- Hemp-derived CBD oil containing less than .03% THC is legal under federal law.
- Most CBD oil is also legal at the state level, but many have strict rules and regulations on its use.
- The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp, its derivatives, and THC contained in hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, but it did not necessarily make CBD entirely legal on the federal level.
- Better regulation of CBD products and additional research will help CBD become fully legal.