Is CBD Oil Legal or Illegal?

Is CBD Oil Legal or Illegal?

December 18, 2018

As cannabis legalization weaves its way through the country, more consumers than ever are asking the question: Is CBD oil legal?

Finding out if CBD oil is legal where you live depends on where the CBD oil comes from, where you live, which regulatory body you ask, and how the laws are currently being interpreted. This can be a lot to keep track of so let’s start with the basics.

What is CBD?

CBD, also known as Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of more than one hundred chemical compounds found in marijuana called cannabinoids. CBD is the second most common cannabinoid in the cannabis plant after THC and can be extracted from hemp or marijuana. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most common well-known cannabinoid, CBD has no psychoactive properties but it does have hundreds health and wellness applications that we are still discovering more about every day.

While CBD doesn’t get consumers “high,” the cannabinoid does interact with receptors in our Endocannabinoid system (ECS), which plays an important role in regulating several physiological and cognitive processes.

CBD’s interaction with our ECS has shown promise as a therapeutic remedy for everything from anxiety, pain management, inflammation, and more, research into the effectiveness of CBD to combat a number of different ailments and illnesses is rapidly expanding.

Is CBD oil safe?

The World Health Organization stated in December of 2017 that “cannabidiol [CBD] does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm.” Their report went on to note that CBD could have “therapeutic value” for epileptic seizures. Six months later, the FDA approved the CBD-based drug Epidiolex to treat epileptic seizures.

In June 2018, the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a marijuana-derived medicine for the first-time: a CBD-based drug called Epidiolex, produced by GW Pharmaceuticals, for treating epileptic seizures.

\According to the agency’s website, the FDA “is aware that there is considerable interest in [marijuana’s] use to attempt to treat a number of medical conditions, including, for example, glaucoma, AIDS wasting syndrome, neuropathic pain, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and certain seizure disorders.”

Consumers do want to watch out for truth in labelling and transparency when it comes to their CBD products however. The FDA issues dozens of warning each year to companies marketing CBD as a magic cure without the  data or research to support their claims. Sourcing is also an emergent issue in the CBD space, making things like testing and labelling imperative for consumers to take note of.

Is CBD oil legal in all 50 states in 2018?

Before diving deeper into the murky waters of CBD’s legality, you must first understand the difference between the varieties of cannabis as well as the difference between hemp-derived CBD and marijuana-derived CBD.

Simply put, cannabis, hemp, and marijuana are not the same thing. ‘Cannabis’ refers to a family of plants with two primary classifications — Indica and Sativa— and a third, lesser known classification, Ruderalis.

To this end, Hemp and Marijuana are species of Cannabis and they are BOTH members of the Cannabis Sativa family. However, due to each plant’s biological structure, hemp and marijuana have several very distinct and crucial differences.

Generally speaking, Marijuana is richer than hemp in THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid responsible getting users “high” while consuming cannabis. Hemp, is legally classified as a cannabis sativa plant with less than 0.3% THC and is richer than marijuana in CBD, which has no psychoactive properties.

Given that CBD oil can be extracted from marijuana OR hemp, this is where the question of legality comes into play, particularly in states without a legal marijuana market.

Due to its legal classification as Schedule I drug, marijuana-derived CBD oil is typically considered illegal, unless you live in a state where marijuana is legal, and cannot be sold online or cross state lines.

Because hemp products containing less than 0.3% THC, are classified as marijuana, producers of CBD oil products claim it’s legal for them to produce and sell their goods and the government should not require a license to procure or consume CBD.

Their stance, is supported by a 2004 ruling in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, “Hemp Industries Association USA LLC vs. Drug Enforcement Administration [DEA].” In the decision, the court determined that the DEA cannot regulate naturally-occurring THC not contained within or derived from marijuana – i.e., non-psychoactive hemp products – because non-psychoactive hemp is not included in Schedule I, the 2014 US Farm Bill, or recent FDA letters.

It’s important to note however, that the DEA’s perspective is a bit different. In an interview with VICE, DEA spokesperson Rusty Payne said bluntly, “Hemp is a made up word. For it to be controlled, it has to fall within the definition of marijuana, not just test positive for THC. When it comes to CBD, these products are coming from the plant, which is controlled, which is illegal.”

Does that mean the DEA will kick your door in and flash a search warrant if you’re using CBD oil?

“No, we’ve got bigger fish to fry. We are in the midst of an opioid epidemic, said Payne, “I think people think CBD is high on the priority list right now. It is not.”

While federal regulation remains murky, and mostly hands-off, when it comes to CBD, states have taken it upon themselves to create sensible laws that also protect consumers. In the 30 states that have legalized medical marijuana, CBD users are unlikely to encounter any problems finding or purchasing CBD products and CBD oil, particularly if using hemp-derived CBD oil containing less than 0.3 percent THC.

Where Can I Find CBD Oil Near Me?

Because of the wealth of attention, research, and immense consumer demand, all but a handful of states have created laws that support a legal cannabis or CBD market. By the end of 2018 only three states consider all cannabis-derived products illegal, including hemp-derived CBD: Idaho, South Dakota, and Nebraska.

States Where Marijuana Is Fully Legal

Ten states and Washington DC enjoy adult-use legal marijuana markets for both medical and recreational use. If you’re looking for CBD in these states, simply go to a dispensary and you will be able to purchase CBD oil legally.

The 10 states with legal cannabis markets are:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Vermont
  • Washington

States Where Medical Marijuana Is Legal

While there are only 10 states with legal recreational weed, 23 other states have legalized medical cannabis. While recreational marijuana remains illegal in these states, many have decriminalized the drug but do require patients to seek out apply for a medical marijuana license.


States with legal medical marijuana programs are:

  • 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
  • West Virginia


What Would the 2018 Farm Bill Do for CBD?

In 2018, the Senate passed a new Farm Bill that legalizes hemp on a federal level. This development will not only open up the doors for technological advancement and research, it is also the first step toward the end of prohibition of cannabis at both a federal and global level. Still not sure if CBD oil is legal in your state? Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on the industry updates you need to know about!

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