The recent boom of the CBD industry has put every one of us in close contact with it. It’s in supplements, food, skin care products – just walk through a supermarket and I guarantee you will be able to pick up at least a dozen products containing trace amounts of CBD oil. Off the shelves! Of course, since it’s so widely available, you don’t even question the legality of it. However, thanks to legislative murkiness, things are not as black and white as you might think.
Despite the fact that CBD has many proven health benefits, the question of whether CBD oil is legal or not still largely depends on who you ask. What brought us to this convoluted situation? Time to dive in and find out – is CBD oil legal in the United States. And, if it isn’t, what needs to happen for that to change?
Federal Law (& Various Agencies) Say CBD Is Illegal
Back in 1970, the Congress voted on and passed the Controlled Substances Act. In it, it listed and classified all the substances (well, most of them) with potential for abuse. And, guess what? Cannabis was on top of the list that day. This means that it’s considered a Class I substance. Getting caught with a Class I substance means that you will get sent up the river to do some serious time, depending on the quantity.
So, if you ask the FDA, DOJ, or DEA, since CBD oil is made from a cannabis plant, this means that it too is considered a Class I substance. That makes CBD oil illegal. It doesn’t matter that most CBD oils are made from the hemp plant and contain little to no THC (psychoactive compound responsible for the ‘classic’ weed high). The law makes no distinction between hemp and marijuana. As far as the Congress was concerned back then, both are the same plant. 50 years later, that still hasn’t changed, despite the apparent health benefits of CBD and numerous activists pushing for the change.
Different States Have Different Opinions About CBD Legality
Of course, since the US has a specific judiciary system, most things tend to get a little more complicated when we move from state to state. The same applies to the question of whether or not CBD oil is legal.
States, unlike the Federal Government, do make a distinction between CBD oil derived from the hemp plant and the one derived from the marijuana plant.
In most cases, the states have opted to make hemp-derived CBD oil legal. After all, hemp is an industry with enormous potential growth, and they would be foolish to let serious tax money slip right out of their hands.
Right now, it seems that various federal agencies, such as the DOJ and DEA, have been given instructions to turn a blind eye when it comes to hemp derivatives. This is a step in the right direction, more so because hemp is getting a thumbs up from a very unexpected advocate – the Congress Republican Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell. A bill that he’s introducing (which will be voted on this fall) could completely legalize hemp and all its derivatives.
For now, it seems that almost all the states in the US are determined to give people access to hemp-derived CBD oils by making them legal in their jurisdictions. However, this doesn’t mean that we can relax. Because of something called ‘law supremacy’ the Federal law always trumps state law. If they wanted to (or were instructed to do so), various federal agencies could start arresting people on drug charges for something as simple as vaping on CBD. One important issue to look at here is transporting CBD oil across state lines. Owing to the federal law, this can be tricky so you always have to be careful when traveling or when ordering from another state.
All this is why it’s important to educate people, especially lawmakers, and urge them to right a wrong that’s almost 50 years old. Hemp is cannabis, but it’s not marijuana!
Here’s helpful table that explains what versions of CBD are legal in which US state. The table is fairly up to date, but since things are moving so quickly, I will do my best to keep it updated.
What Makes Hemp-Derived CBD Oil Legal in Almost 50 States?
I’ve already briefly touched on this, but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate. The reason why hemp CBD oil is legal according to states’ laws (and common sense) is because it’s not psychoactive. The hemp plant contains CBD, terpenes, and most common cannabinoids, but it does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Actually, it does contain it but in extremely small quantities that rarely exceed 0.3%. Almost 50 states have taken this as validation enough that hemp can’t be used or abused in order to get high, nor is it addictive. This interpretation is possible thanks to the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015, which has the 0.3% legality provision built into it.
What Is So Different About Marijuana-Derived CBD Oil?
What separates marijuana-derived CBD oil from the one that’s made from hemp is the contents of THC. Generally, marijuana CBD will have much higher levels of THC, especially if it was not treated and THC removed. This means that this particular type of CBD oil can be abused, which is the main reason why it’s more rigidly regulated and legislated.
Right now, there are only 9 states that allow recreational use of marijuana: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. However, many others have decriminalized recreational use to a point where it’s just a misdemeanor. Also, medical use is permitted in most states, barring four – Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Kansas. Incidentally, those are the only four states that prohibit CBD oil in all its forms. Utah can be included on the list since CBD is only available to patients with epilepsy.
Should Hemp-Derived CBD Oil Be Legal – No Strings Attached?
There’s no doubt about it in my mind – hemp CBD oil needs to be legal in all 50 states if we want patients to receive a treatment they need (and that works). In fact, it needs to be legal all over the world (although, much of the world is way ahead of the curve when compared to the US). Not only, hemp CBD, but also marijuana-derived CBD. That’s because Mary Jane CBD is more effective with pain management thanks to the higher content of THC. That said, our own CBD oil pods are also effective when it comes to pain management (among other things). In addition to that, the CBD we use is made from hemp, that’s grown in Colorado, and contains less than 0.3% of THC. We also ship to most states (except the ones where CBD is explicitly illegal).
Right now, we have to be patient and see how the McConnell bill fares in the fall. Until then, keep educating the people around you about CBD, its uses, and benefits. It would be a good idea to write to your elected representative in support of the bill as well.
Although I’m not a legal expert, and nothing here should be taken as legal advice, I still do welcome your questions regarding the legality of CBD oil. I will do my best to answer them correctly or point out where you can find the answers you need. Now, hands up – who thought that CBD was completely legal before reading this post? I look forward to your comments!