Is CBD oil legal?
As CBD oil takes the country, and the world at large, by storm, many people want a straight answer to a seemingly straightforward question: “Is CBD oil legal?”
The reality is that there is no simple answer. It depends on how the CBD oil is derived, whom you ask, how you interpret the law and where you live.
What is CBD oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most common cannabinoid, or chemical compound, found in the cannabis plant. It can be derived from hemp or marijuana. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most common cannabinoid, and the compound most familiar to the public, CBD has no psychoactive properties.
Although it doesn’t get users “high,” CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which plays an important role in regulating physiological and cognitive processes.
Because it’s shown promise as a therapeutic remedy for everything from anxiety, to pain management, to inflammation, to epileptic seizures, research into the effectiveness of CBD to combat ailments and illnesses is booming.
In June, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a CBD-based drug called Epidiolex, produced by GW Pharmaceuticals, for treating epileptic seizures. Epidiolex was the first marijuana-derived drug ever approved by the FDA.
Is CBD oil safe?
In a December 2017 report, the World Health Organization stated that “cannabidiol [CBD] does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm.” The report went on to say that CBD could have “therapeutic value” for epileptic seizures. Six months later, the FDA approved the CBD-based drug Epidiolex to treat epileptic seizures.
That being said, you should take CBD claims with a grain of salt. The FDA issues several warnings each year to companies marketing CBD products as panaceas for every type of illness, without any credible data or scientific backing.
Is CBD oil legal?
To answer that question, the reader must first understand the difference between hemp and marijuana, and the difference between hemp-derived CBD and marijuana-derived CBD.
Hemp and marijuana are two species classified under the same genus, cannabis, which is classified under the family cannabacea. Marijuana is richer than hemp in THC, the psychoactive property responsible for the “high” associated with cannabis consumption. Hemp is richer than marijuana in CBD, which has no psychoactive properties, and typically contains no more than 0.3 percent THC.
This is the point at which the answer to the question, “Is CBD oil legal?,” depends on whom you ask.
Marijuana-derived CBD oil is typically considered illegal, unless you live in a state where marijuana is legal, and cannot be sold online.
Producers of CBD oil products derived from industrial hemp will likely tell you that, because their products contain less than 0.3 percent THC, they’re legal to produce, legal to sell and do not require a license to procure or consume. To back up the claims, they’ll cite the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling in 2004 (“Hemp Industries Association USA LLC vs. Drug Enforcement Administration [DEA],” which concluded 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 and recent FDA letters.
The DEA takes a different view. 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. 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, state laws make a bit more sense. In the 30 states that have legalized medical marijuana, CBD users are unlikely to encounter any problems, particularly if using hemp-derived CBD oil containing less than 0.3 percent THC.
The only four states that consider all cannabis-derived products illegal, including hemp-derived CBD, are Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.