CBD (or cannabidiol) is skyrocketing in popularity due to its many medical benefits and lack of side effects. But as it’s derived from cannabis, there are a lot of questions surrounding its legality. It’s time to clear that up.
So, is CBD Legal? The short answer is it depends. Sorry to disappoint, but as CBD is relatively new on the medical and legal scene, it’s just not very well understood by those making our laws.
Much of the confusion is derived from the fact that politicians and lawmakers don’t understand what CBD is, and therefore issue confusing statements. More comes from the fact that the states and the federal government don’t see eye to eye on this issue.
We’re going to cover everything you need to know about legal CBD below. Here are the key points:
Understanding the Origin of Your CBD
Legally speaking, there are three different kinds of CBD:
Many don’t know (including many lawmakers) that hemp and marijuana are not the same. While both are members of the cannabis family, hemp contains almost no THC (the psychoactive ingredient that gets you high), while marijuana contains quite a lot of it.
Marijuana and any derivatives of it are illegal at the federal level. Hemp products, on the other hand, are sold legally all over America, though hemp can only be grown legally in the USA by government-sanctioned growers. This is likely to change very soon with the passage of the next Farm Bill. This will legalize industrial hemp at the federal level.
What does this mean for CBD? It means that at a federal level, only CBD made from hemp grown by government-approved growers is legal to purchase. And depending on your state, you may need a license from your doctor to use it.
If you want to find out what your CBD of choice is made from, we recommend calling the company directly to ask them. If it is derived from hemp of any kind, you don’t have much to worry about. But if you want to be completely safe, ask them if they source their hemp from a federally approved hemp producer.
At the state level, things look much different:
You can see why so much confusion exists. Federal and state laws regarding CBD are so contradictory that it’s very possible that your CBD is both legal and illegal simultaneously.
Luckily, the federal government has agreed to respect states’ laws regarding cannabis legalization, so if CBD is legal in your state, you don’t need to worry.
CBD is completely legal in the following states (recreational, medical, hemp-based, marijuana-based, and with THC):
CBD is medically legal in the following states (hemp-based, marijuana-based, and with THC):
CBD is medically legal in the following states (hemp-based and marijuana-based, but with restrictions on levels of THC):
Marijuana-based CBD is illegal in the following states:
Now that you know where your state stands, here’s the key info to take away:
Hemp, Marijuana, and THC
The first legal question we dealt with was related to the source of your CBD. This is important but will likely become much less important with the passage of the upcoming Farm Bill.
The next factor to consider is the concentration of THC in your CBD. Marijuana is a category 1 illegal substance according to the DEA because it contains tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This is the psychoactive component of marijuana that gets you high. Marijuana is legal either recreationally or medically in 50% of US states, while in other states, it remains to be completely illegal. This means that some CBD may contain concentrations of THC that are legal in some states and illegal in others.
When talking about the states, the magic number here is 0.3%. If your CBD contains less than this amount of THC, you’re within the legal limit in all 50 states. If it contains more, then it may be illegal in some states.
Federally, CBD is still considered a category 1 illegal substance if it has more than 0.1% of THC.
Why Is CBD so Easy to Buy Online and in Shops?
If CBD isn’t technically legal in every state, why is it being sold and shipped so readily all over the country?
The answer that CBD is popular. It’s physically and mentally beneficial to so many people, and it has virtually no side effects. It has shown to drastically reduce symptoms of epilepsy, PTSD, and many other conditions, and it’s a very effective pain reliever. It has been touted as a possible replacement for addictive opioids and anxiety medications, and it even has cancer-curbing properties.
People love it, businesses love it, the medical community loves it, financial institutions love it, and therefore, local and state politicians have looked favorably upon it. New laws in favor of CBD are being passed by legislatures every month, and the federal government is moving slowly towards legalization. The DEA has already moved some CBD from being completely illegal to being legal for prescription drug use, and the FDA has recently approved the first drug made with CBD. And more significantly, the DEA has said that it will not move to enforce restrictions against CBD use.
When purchasing CBD online or in a store, it’s important to do your research. But if you buy from a reputable producer making hemp-based CBD products, you are very unlikely to run into any legal trouble.
Key Takeaway: If you buy CBD sourced from hemp with a THC content of less than 0.3%, you will be unlikely to have legal trouble in any of the 50 states.
Is CBD Legal Around the World?
CBD is legal in many countries, but in many others, it is not. CBD is now legal in both Canada and Mexico, but it is still highly restricted in tightly regulated countries like those in Southeast Asia. As the legal climate shifts quickly in terms of CBD and cannabis, we recommend you do your research before buying CBD outside of North America.
We also recommend that you don’t travel with CBD. We say this for two reasons. The first is that you may not know the laws surrounding CBD in the country or state you’re traveling to. More importantly, as most CBD is still considered illegal under federal law, it’s not a good idea to have it on you in places under federal jurisdiction. This includes airports, where the DEA and TSA (federal organizations) have jurisdiction.
Traveling from state to state by plane with CBD on you or in your bag is not considered to be very risky. But, there is a slightly elevated risk of being fined or prosecuted. When you travel, leave your CBD at home and simply buy more once you arrive at your destination.
The Future of Legal CBD
As mentioned before, the laws and regulations around CBD are changing constantly, and almost all of these changes are pro-CBD. Every year, more and more states are legalizing marijuana and all of its components, which include CBD. Even the federal government is lifting restrictions and encouraging the use of CBD for certain conditions.
The biggest upcoming legal change for CBD will occur upon the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. This bill, now expected to pass sometime in early 2019, will legalize industrial hemp nationwide. This means that CBD made from any source of hemp (not just from federally approved growers) will be legal nationwide as a hemp product (this is assuming that no other laws are passed that specifically limit the use of CBD). Though it is important to remember that CBD with a THC concentration higher than 0.1% and CBD sourced from marijuana will likely still be illegal at a federal level.
From the point of view of the states, recreational marijuana legalization (and therefore complete CBD legalization) appears to be on the horizon for states like Illinois and New York, and medical legalization is expanding rapidly nationwide.
Finally, with the departure of key anti-cannabis politicians, the road to federal legalization is looking brighter than ever. Federal decriminalization of marijuana and legalization of CBD may occur as soon as 2019.