Is CBD oil legal?

The ever growing popularity of CBD (Cannabidiol), a compound that works with the Endocannabinoid System in the body to promote optimal health, has many people questioning its legal status. CBD is one of the most prevalent of several naturally occurring compounds in the cannabis plant. Cannabis has been making headlines in recent years as individual states pass various regulations allowing for its use, effectively beginning the end of prohibition in the U.S.  

So, is CBD oil legal in all 50 states?  

A ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer simply does not apply here (yet - as of this writing).  There are several determining factors, the most important being (A) whether the CBD is in an isolate form and (B) whether it was derived from hemp or marijuana.  Let’s clarify!

Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer and have no legal training or experience. The information in this article is solely my opinion and does not constitute legal advice. Always consult a lawyer for legal advice. Also, the information in this article is current as of the time of publication, and the laws may be different depending on when you’re reading this.

Hemp vs. Marijuana

Hemp and marijuana are both terms used to describe plants in the Cannabaceae family and of the species Cannabis Sativa L., so they do share a lot of similar characteristics and they both produce CBD.  The crucial difference between the two is the amount of the psychoactive compound THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) that is produced.  Marijuana cannabis varieties are intentionally bred to be high in THC and can contain concentrations of up to 30%. Hemp cannabis varieties legally must contain less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis.  The trace amounts of THC in hemp varieties is not enough to produce the psychoactive effect.

The Legality of Hemp-Derived CBD

Growing hemp in the U.S. was federally prohibited by the Controlled Substances Act in 1970 because of its relation to marijuana.  It remained illegal to grow until the passing of the 2014 Farm Bill which gave authorization to states to cultivate the crop for research and pilot programs.  Since then more than 30 states have passed laws regarding the cultivation of industrial hemp, including 16 that have allowed commercial production and rights beyond the Farm Bill.  2 key points for you to know:

  • Despite the laws regulating domestic production, hemp-derived products such as food, clothing, and supplements have been and remain legal to purchase and use in all 50 states.  
  • It is legal to ship hemp-derived CBD oil to all 50 states and a medical card, prescription, or ID are not necessary.

The Legality of Marijuana-Derived CBD

Marijuana-derived CBD regulations are currently very different from state to state. In Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, marijuana-derived CBD is completely legal recreationally.  In 46 states, including the eight where it is recreationally legal, marijuana-derived CBD is legal with a prescription for medical use. In the four remaining states, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota, marijuana-derived CBD is illegal.   

The Importance of Isolate vs. Full Spectrum

CBD isolate is just that, the pure CBD molecular compound separated out from the rest of the plant, all by itself.  It exists as a white powder containing no other nutrient compounds. Whole plant or full spectrum CBD oil contains a whole host of other beneficial cannabinoids, terpenes, and active phytonutrients that are also naturally occurring in the hemp plant and work together for a more profound effect (Learn more about the “entourage effect”). Why does this matter from a legal standpoint? It remains to be seen, but as pharmaceutical giants push for FDA approval on a drug based on the isolated CBD compound, this could mean the CBD isolate would then be available by prescription for certain conditions only.  

Education and Legislation

Full spectrum hemp-derived CBD oil, like the products Functional Remedies makes should remain completely legal and available along with any other dietary supplements.  The evolution of the marketplace is driving policy and great progress is being made toward establishing clear distinctions and paths for purchasing CBD. As more people become educated about cannabis and awareness builds, expect to see CBD oils and products exactly where they belong -- in the hands of the people who are benefitting from them!      

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