​The Legal Status of CBD in The United States

While the market for CBD is through the roof, the legalities of this miracle drug get confusing. CBD derived from hemp and cannabis may be legal at a state level, but it’s still federally illegal. If you are shopping around for a CBD product, there are some legal issues you should know about hemp or cannabis-derived products.

If you’re living in the United States chances are you’ve heard, seen or perhaps even tried CBD and are now a total convert. CBD- short for Cannabidiol- is one of many cannabinoids commonly found in hemp and marijuana that has no psychoactive effect and has been marketed as a cure-all drug in the health and wellness industry due to growing research suggesting it as a remedy for a long list of ailments.

You can find CBD products at dispensaries, grocery stores and even readily available online… which can make its legal status a little confusing. If you can buy CBD online and at the local market, it must be legal right? Well… not exactly and certainly not everywhere.

As of now, the legalities of CBD in the United States are swimming in a grey area of what is considered legal at a federal level and at a state level. Here is an update on where we are with the legalities of CBD in the United States so that you won’t be on the wrong side of the law due to faulty interpretations of federal laws:

CBD Extracted from Cannabis and the Federal Government:

According to the DEA (The Drug Enforcement Administration), CBD derived from cannabis is still considered a Schedule I drug, a class of drugs considered high risk for abuse with no medical purposes. It’s hard to believe that even CBD, a non psychoactive drug remains in this Schedule. The catch is, CBD itself isn’t listed as a Schedule I drug, only cannabis and anything that is connected to the plant. So, CBD can be legal so long as it’s NOT derived from a plant of the genus Cannabis (that includes hemp!).

There has been talk about rescheduling CBD to a Schedule II or III drug, due to the FDA’s (Food and Drug Administration) acceptance of Epidiolex – a cannabis derived pure CBD pharmaceutical drug for epilepsy- to be sold by prescription in pharmacies nationwide. Because of the FDA’s acceptance of Epidiolex, CBD must be rescheduled in order for this drug to legally enter the market.

But until then, at a Federal level, CBD derived from cannabis is still illegal and it is still illegal to sell and ship CBD across state lines. The DEA has admitted that they have bigger concerns than busting people for buying CBD products; but in some states such as Tennessee, retailers are being raided by local police for selling  cannabis derived CBD products that they thought were legal.

CBD Extracted from Industrial Hemp and the Federal Government:

According to Leafly, In 2016 the DEA made a ruling that created a new Controlled Substance Act Drug Code for “Marijuana Extracts” which places extracts as a Schedule I drug and Federally illegal. The new CSA defines extracts, “Meaning an extract containing one or more cannabinoids that has been derived from any plant of the genus cannabis, other than the separate resin (whether crude or purified) obtained from the plant.” Because  industrial hemp’s genus is Cannabis Sativa L, it too falls under this new CSA code and places industrial hemp-derived CBD as illegal by federal law in the United States.

A lot of the confusion surrounding the legalities of CBD derived from industrial hemp comes from the Federal Agricultural Act of 2014, or better known as the Farm Bill. According to the Farm Bill, the cultivation of industrial hemp is legal so long as a state’s Department of Agriculture grows industrial hemp for research or an approved institution under an agricultural pilot program cultivates hemp strictly for educational and research purposes.

Its legal in some states to grow industrial hemp for research, but that doesn’t mean its legal to sell as CBD extracts, although many companies in the industrial hemp industry interpret it that way! And because of that,  we see industrial hemp-derived CBD products being falsely marketed as legal in all 50 states. Industrial-hemp based CBD follows the same federal laws as cannabis-based CBD. It is federally illegal and it is illegal to ship across state lines because of its connection as a genus cannabis plant.

In September 2018,  Congress may pass legislation in the 2018 Farm Bill that will federally legalize the cultivation of hemp as an agricultural commodity.  Senators such as Mitch McConnell and James Comer from Kentucky are on the Farm Bills Congressional committee and will be advocating for the legalization of hemp. This could potential remove hemp-derived CBD from the federal control substance list, but until then hemp-derived CBD is still considered illegal at a federal level.

CBD and the 50 states

Until cannabis is legalized nationally, most CBD products on the market today will remain illegal at a Federal level, but they may be legal depending on your state laws. The legalities of CBD based on state laws are pretty easy to comprehend.

If your state has passed a law allowing medical and recreational use of marijuana, then it is legal for you to use CBD products. If your state only allows medical marijuana, then you need a medical marijuana card to use CBD products unless the product is not derived from cannabis (Like us!). If marijuana is not legalized for medical or recreational purposes in your state, then you can only use CBD that is NOT derived from cannabis (Again, like us!).  Regardless of your State's laws around Marijuana, it is illegal to ship, or carry any marijuana or hemp products across state lines! because it’s not federally legal yet.

Here is a list of states and their laws around Medical and Recreational Marijuana:

States with legalized Marijuana for Recreational and Medical use:

Alaska, Washington State, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Vermont,  Massachusetts, Maine and lastly, Washington D.C.

States only with legalized Medical Marijuana:

Hawaii, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana.

States that have not yet legalized marijuana for recreational or medical use:

Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Ashley Lange

Ashley Lange graduated from Portland State University with a degree in English. She is a full time waiter at a local bar in Portland, OR and spends her spare time writing articles like this one!