In this article, we go deep into the question “Is CBD legal?” and take a broad and extensive look at CBD laws and how they affect and impact you, the consumer.
While the popularity of CBD products has exploded over the last few years, it’s been a roller-coaster ride for CBD manufacturers and vendors. After the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the legal status of hemp and CBD across the U.S. is more clear-cut, especially for users, who can now breathe easier when they consume CBD products.
CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is one of the hundreds of chemical compounds in the cannabis plant. In research studies, it has shown potential for helping with insomnia, pain, anxiety, depression and other ailments. CBD is present in varying amounts in all cannabis strains, and more and more farmers across the U.S. have started to breed and plant strains with higher amounts of CBD.
As a consumer, asking “Is CBD legal?” is extremely important, and you should know the CBD laws in your home state and which products you’re legally allowed to purchase and utilize. Of course, you can order many CBD products over the web, but it can be challenging to determine what you’re actually buying with all of the confusing terminology in today’s marketplace—“hemp oil,” “CBD hemp oil,” “CBD oil,” “Full spectrum CBD oil,” and the list goes on.
Laws related to cannabis, hemp and CBD are becoming more permissive every year at the Federal level, but each state also has its own regulations. So in order to have a complete picture, you need to take both sets of legislation into consideration.
Is CBD Legal Federally?
At the federal level, marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. However, the Agricultural Act of 2014 legalized hemp cultivation and paved the way for today’s booming industry.
In 2018, the Senate took another major step in promoting hemp with the Hemp Farming Act in The 2018 Farm Bill. Signed into law in 2018, the bill legalized hemp federally by removing it from the list of controlled substances and classifying it as an agricultural commodity. Whereas hemp was farmed under state-sponsored pilot programs in the past, the Farm Bill paves the way for large-scale cultivation in any state that approves it. It also allows for the transfer of hemp-derived products across state lines, and puts no restrictions on the sale, transport or possession of hemp-derived products, as long as they are legally produced.
As a result of this historic victory for hemp, CBD derived from hemp is now legal across the country, under certain conditions.
“It is true that section 12619 of the Farm Bill removes hemp-derived products from its Schedule I status under the Controlled Substances Act, but the legislation does not legalize CBD generally. The Farm Bill—and an unrelated, recent action by the Department of Justice—creates exceptions to this Schedule I status in certain situations. The Farm Bill ensures that any cannabinoid—a set of chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant—that is derived from hemp will be legal, if and only if that hemp is produced in a manner consistent with the Farm Bill, associated federal regulations, association state regulations, and by a licensed grower.”
Legal CBD Products
With less than 0.3% THC, CBD oil represents the vast majority of products on the market, and these products are now sold everywhere from corner stores and coffee shops to cannabis dispensaries and gyms. Likewise, many companies are shipping CBD products with little to no interference from legal authorities.
When it comes to CBD derived from marijuana plants, however, the legal picture is hazier. In some states, CBD derived from marijuana is completely legal. But CBD laws vary from state to state, and the most important factors to consider are whether the CBD was derived from hemp or marijuana, and if it is sourced from a licensed farm.
There are currently ten states where cannabis is entirely legal for medicinal and recreational use. If you live in one of these ten states, you can use CBD that comes from hemp or marijuana. These states are
As of 2019, there are only three states with restrictions on all cannabis and cannabis-derived products
- South Dakota
In the remaining 37 states, CBD derived from hemp is legal (under certain conditions) as a result of the 2018 Farm Bill.
If you are consuming CBD products anywhere in the U.S., you have little reason to be concerned – the DEA and law enforcement agencies have not been targeting consumers, and cases involving manufacturers and retailers are extremely rare.
If you are not sure about your state’s cannabis laws, there are plenty of resources where you can stay up to date on current policies, which are a work in progress for many states across the country.
Organizations That Track Cannabis and CBD Laws
Americans for Safe Access
Americans for Safe Access is focused on ensuring safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. Its website is a helpful place to check on CBD laws and cannabis products in your home state.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is an excellent resource and reference for CBD laws and other information related to cannabis and its legality from state to state.
National Conference of State Legislatures
The National Conference of State Legislatures has up-to-date resources and information on a wide variety of state laws and issues, including cannabis and CBD.
A CBD Laws Breakdown by State
States Where Recreational Cannabis Is Legal
Currently, there are 10 states, in addition to Washington D.C., where cannabis is legal for both medical and recreational users. In these states, you can find CBD oil and other products at dispensaries, and anyone 21 (18, in some cases) or over is allowed to purchase them.
These states include: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
States Where Medical Cannabis Is Legal
There are currently 23 other states where it is legal to use cannabis on a medical basis:
Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, and West Virginia.
Cannabis and CBD is legal as medicine in these states for patients who have a medical cannabis ID card. However, these products may still be hard to find and purchase. In some of these states, there is no system in place yet to open a legal dispensary, and in others CBD products not sold in licensed dispensaries are deemed illegal. So it’s worth checking the specific language around CBD access and legality if you live in any of these states.
States with Restrictive CBD Laws and Cannabis Laws
In the following states, CBD laws contain language that requires CBD products to be sourced from hemp, with only trace amounts of THC.
- Alabama: In 2014, the Alabama state legislature passed SB 174, a restrictive cannabidiol (CBD) law. “Carly’s Law” offers an affirmative defense for the possession and use of CBD; however, the program is extremely limited and may not be able to provide CBD-rich medicine to patients in Alabama. In 2016, HB 61 was passed, which expanded the affirmative defense to several conditions and removed the requirement that patients must be enrolled in the UAB study program.
- Georgia: CBD oil can legally be prescribed to patients with over a dozen medical conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and seizure disorders. The legal limit a patient can have is 20 ounces of marijuana oil with no more than 5% THC, and the CBD amount must be equal to or greater than the THC.
- Indiana: House Bill 1148 legalized the use of CBD for the treatment of epilepsy.
- Iowa: Limited amounts of CBD oil are legal for patients who suffer from serious medical conditions, including HIV/AIDS, cancer, ALS and seizures. To qualify as a patient for Iowa’s medical cannabidiol program, a patient must provide a physician’s certification of the specific medical condition.
- Kansas: In 2018, Kansas passed Senate Bill 282, which legalizes CBD in the state, and exempts it from the state’s definition of “marijuana.” Adults can legally purchase and possess CBD products as long as they contain 0% THC.
- Kentucky: In 2014, the Kentucky legislature revised the definition of marijuana under state law to create legal protection for patients who use a cannabidiol (CBD) medicine as part of an approved clinical trial or on the written order of “a physician practicing at a hospital or associated clinic affiliated with a Kentucky public university having a college or school of medicine.”
- Mississippi: In 2014, Mississippi passed HB 1231, which creates an affirmative defense for the possession and use of CBD oil in very limited circumstances. Known as “Harper Grace’s Law,” the bill only provides legal protection to patients diagnosed with a debilitating epileptic condition, and only if the CBD oil was either obtained from or tested by the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi and dispensed by the Department of Pharmacy Services at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
- North Carolina: In July 2014, North Carolina enacted HB 1220, known as North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act, creating a pilot program that allows medical use of CBD-rich oil only for registered patients diagnosed by a neurologist at one of four universities as having intractable epilepsy that has not been responsive to at least three other treatment options.
- South Carolina: In 2014, the South Carolina legislature passed S 1035/H 4803, also known as “Julian’s Law.” The law creates an exemption for the possession and use of CBD from the criminal definition of marijuana in limited circumstances. Only patients with severe forms of seizure disorders are eligible for legal protections after the patient obtains a recommendation for CBD oil from a physician.
- Tennessee: In 2014, Tennessee legislators passed SB 2531, which changes the definition of marijuana to create a legal exception for the possession and use of low-THC, CBD-rich cannabis oil solely by patients with intractable seizures.
- Texas: In June of 2015, Governor Abbot signed SB 399, The Texas Compassionate Use Act. This law allows access to some patients to low-THC cannabis. Unlike many other CBD laws this act also allows for dispensing organizations to cultivate, process and distribute this medical cannabis.
- Virginia: HB 1445 was signed in 2015, and extends some legal protections to patients using CBD or THC-A extracts. The law protects patients using those specific medicines from prosecution but not arrest.
- Wisconsin: In 2014, Wisconsin passed AB 726, which creates a legal right for patients with seizure disorders to possess and use CBD-rich medicines if they have a written recommendation. The law allows medical practitioners to dispense CBD but provides no guidance on how they may obtain it, nor does the law address production or distribution.
- Wyoming: Wyoming’s HB 32, which took effect in July 2015, establishes a registration process which allows a neurologist to recommend CBD cannabis extracts to a patient suffering from intractable epilepsy or seizure disorders. This law extends legal protections to some patients using some high CBD extractions.
States Where CBD and Cannabis is Illegal
In Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota, cannabis and its byproducts, including CBD, remain illegal.