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Five or ten years ago, few people had heard of CBD oil, and even fewer used it. Those who did found themselves navigating a tight rope walk. It was a product that was both legal and not.
Today, a few things have changed. The supplement has been launched out of obscurity. Indeed, CBD oil and supplements are a roughly $1 billion industry – and it’s still growing.
Although CBD is now everywhere, it’s still not particularly well understood by consumers or by lawmakers. CBD is a cannabinoid that doesn’t provide the ‘high’ offered by THC. CBD itself is legal under federal law: THC isn’t. But the vast variety of products means that not all CBD products are created equal. More importantly, not all CBD products are legal.
Is CBD legal in all 50 states? The answer isn’t what you think
What is CBD Oil?
CBD is a cannabinoid, which is a chemical compound found primarily in hemp and marijuana plants. Unlike THC, it doesn’t have intoxicating properties. However, it does interact with your endocannabinoid system, which people largely believe helps relieve stress and anxiety as well as mask pain.
When manufacturers produce CBD products, they largely extract CBD without including THC, the other famous cannabidiol compound found in both plants.
- Improve your sleep
- Reduce seizures in epileptic patients
- Protect brains from neurodegenerative disorders
- Treat acne
- Prevent certain cancers or cancer cell growth
- Alleviate cancer treatment side effects
It does all this without serious reported side effects or risk of overdose or abuse.
While its prominent place in health food stores and among retailers demonstrates that CBD is legal, its place in the legal landscape isn’t so black and white.
Is CBD Legal in All 50 States?
CBD is legal in all 50 states because it can be extracted from hemp, a legal plant. The federal government has no blanket ban on CBD itself when provided in supplement form, such as in oils or pills. However, not all CBD products are legal, and CBD is only legal under certain conditions.
The distinctions between products can make or break a product.
When is CBD federally legal? It’s okay with the DEA and the FDA when it’s produced from a hemp plant. According to the federal government, hemp supplements are legal. And their legality was codified into law via the Agricultural Act of 2018.
Why hemp? Isn’t it just another word for marijuana? Not quite.
Hemp plants and marijuana plants are broad classifications of the same Cannabis species. The long and short of the legal difference is that hemp refers to a variety (or varieties) of Cannabis 0.3% or less THC content. A marijuana plant contains more than 0.3% THC content. In other words, the government considers hemp to be safe and marijuana to be legal because you can use marijuana to become intoxicated or ‘get high.’
The bottom line: CBD supplements from hemp plants are legal in all 50 states. Anything that deviates from this is in a grey area – or possibly even entirely illegal.
When is CBD Illegal?
Manufacturers can create CBD products from either hemp or marijuana. Both plants contain the chemical, so both can be the basis of a CBD product.
CBD is illegal under federal law when created from a marijuana plant. However, a marijuana-based CBD product might not be illegal in states that adopted marijuana legalization laws for recreational or medicinal use (or both).
The product is also illegal when used in food and drinks, at least under federal law. Though, that’s not to say you can’t find CBD food products. In 2019, the Oki company were one of the first to launch a CBD-infused water and tea in California and Colorado. Their products contained “active hemp extract,” but federal law prevents them from marketing their foods that way.
Both startups and well-known companies are eager to release new CBD-related products. And if they do, the demand for CBD oil could grow even more.
What Does the Future Look Like for CBD?
The Agricultural Act of 2018 opened up possibilities for CBD uses across the country. But creating the corresponding regulations is likely to take years. What’s more, there is still the dividing line between what’s legal under state law and federal law. After all, the marijuana plant remains illegal at the national level.
Even as the states begin to unpack the regulations and rules necessary to guide the CBD industry, it’s likely to take a piecemeal approach.
However, it’s just as possible that the new laws will roll out without interference from the federal government – as long as producers stay within state lines. Although the FDA largely ignores intrastate commerce among CBD products (and even CBD foods), other regulators aren’t so relaxed. Banks and insurers are as leery of CBD companies as they are of marijuana companies. Though, at least CBD companies can get these services.
Even still, things could change as small interstate companies grow larger and attract the attention both of the public and regulators.
CBD Has a Bright if Uncertain Future
Is CBD legal in all 50 states? As with most questions related to this plant species, the answer is “only in limited circumstances.”
The truth is that CBD made from hemp is legal under federal law, and you are within your rights to buy it. CBD from hemp shouldn’t contain any THC, which is what the government is really worried about. At the same time, you’re not supposed to put CBD in food or beverages just yet, but there are companies doing just that.
No matter how you look at it, CBD has a bright but complicated future. Whether or not a new product is legal will be a question of federal law, state law, and whether the FDA is interested enough to intervene when facing a grey area.
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