Is CBD Oil Legal for Real?
On the one hand, we’d like to exclaim: yes, yes, a million times, yes! On the other, though, if we’re being more down to earth, we could more timidly answer: yes, under strictly defined legal conditions. So, is CBD oil legal or not? What does it depend on? Here are two possible answers:
Yes, hemp-derived CBD oil was legalized federally by the 2018 Farm Bill.
No, CBD oil is not legal in all states if it is extracted from marijuana or contains above 0.3% of THC. Also, in some states only medical marijuana patients can buy it. To make matters even more complicated, certain states approve of CBD oil for everyone, but not CBD oil-infused products.
You see now why we were so cautious about our answer, don’t you?
However, fear not, we’ll try to break it down for you with more details, explain how all of this came to be, and also name which are marijuana legal states. So, let’s get started.
By the Power of the Farm Bill…
According to the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD oil derived from hemp plants, with less than 0.3% of THC among its components, is considered legal on the federal level. President Trump signed it and the paper became law on December 20th, 2018.
While up to this point CBD was a bit demonized in some states, making CBD legal clearly brought it to the center of attention. By the way, do not be fooled by its name, the hemp plant is a cannabis species, just like marijuana. Still, CBD extracted from hemp flowers contains little to no THC (the psychoactive substance by which marijuana is renowned for). A product with the acceptable trace of THC has 0.3% or less of the substance in order to be considered legal.
In this way, hemp was finally taken down from the list of Schedule 1 drugs (which includes substances such as heroin, ecstasy or LSD), thus becoming nothing more than another agricultural commodity. Practically overnight, CBD oil has turned from a “suspect” into an “ordinary citizen”.
So, is CBD federally legal? Yes, CBD oil has the legal status in all 50 states under the condition it originates from a hemp plant. However, if so, we have to ask…
Why All the Confusion?
It all seems very obvious, but why do we have all these insecurities about purchasing CBD oil? Is CBD oil legal equally in all states? Here are some of the issues which may occur even though the federal law guarantees you can use hemp-derived CBD oil at your convenience:
- CBD origin issues. Surely you could have purchased a CBD product which is labeled as “no THC”, but that does not necessarily have to be the truth. The market is getting more and more saturated with cannabis-derived products on a daily basis, and it is sometimes hard to keep track of regular, trustworthy sources. The retailer may just be as fooled (and arrested for it) as you.
- Excessive dosage. Depending on how much CBD you are taking, there is a slight chance that the negligible amount of THC may add up, thus possibly creating a positive result on a drug test.
- Cannabis and marijuana legal terms. While we keep talking about the fact that hemp is a type of cannabis, in the real world, hemp is normally considered different from it, and cannabis is usually likened to marijuana (even though marijuana is just a species of it). Nevertheless, even the DEA lists “marijuana (cannabis)” in this way, contributing even more to the overall confusion. This brings us back to our first point. A CBD oil product may be made from cannabis, but what they actually mean by it is marijuana. It is very convenient to use the uncertainties about the name for a greater range of consumers, isn’t it?
- Complicated marijuana laws. As it is still the case, marijuana or cannabis laws vary greatly from one state to the other regarding all sorts of restrictions: recreational and medical usage, quantity and origin of the CBD product, and many more.
- Passing of time. Due to the long history of hemp being banned from crop fields (starting in 1937), a lot of people are still double checking and typing “is CBD oil legal in all 50 states” into their search engines. The plant has been illegal for nearly a century but the recent legalization of hemp was enacted in December 2018 through the 2018 Farm Bill. Essentially, too little time has passed for the legislation to be recognized on a large scale.
Most importantly, be inquisitive when buying CBD oil and always read the label carefully. Do not hesitate to call the supplier/retailer and ask specific questions.
How Are Hemp and Cannabis Different?
Since the whole mix-up seemed to have originated from the difference between hemp and cannabis, let’s see how exactly they differ and what the big deal with THC is. Also, we shall follow the DEA’s suit and refer to marijuana as cannabis here to avoid any further confusion.
The THC Percentage
Is CBD oil legal or not would not be the worldwide issue at all if it weren’t for that notorious/heavenly (the choice of words depends on your personal preferences) substance called THC.
Yes, it’s tetrahydrocannabinol to “blame” for the bad reputation of the whole species. All the restrictions and laws have been invented particularly because of its curious effects. To this end, the distinction between hemp and cannabis is made according to the THC content found in the plant, though the quantities vary minimally. In the US, marijuana laws say the acceptable level of THC is 0.3% on a dry weight basis, as defined by the FDA, and in and Canada, too. Similarly, in EU countries, what is defined as “hemp” has to contain less than 0.2% of THC.
Therefore, hemp is the cannabis species which does not contain what is defined as an allowed concentration of THC.
All the hustle and bustle revolves around the psychoactive effects of THC. The right amount of THC alters your mood and your perception, making you feel elated and calm, but it may also have some undesired side effects, too. For example, instead of making you relaxed, it can be a cause of anxiety. Tachycardia (increased heart rate) is on the list as well, just like memory loss, and it goes without saying these can seriously impair your sound judgment.
Once you bear these in mind, it is little wonder why CBD laws by state are so strict. For example, in Texas, you can only get CBD oil if it is prescribed as a treatment for intractable epilepsy.
Moreover, the psychoactive substance isn’t the only way in which hemp and cannabis are different. The two plant species can be easily identified visually. Hemp plants are taller, have skinnier leaves and fewer branches. Also, they are more resistant, as opposed to cannabis, which has to be grown in more controlled conditions. What is more, the purpose of cannabis is mostly recreational and medical, but hemp can be used as food and for clothing.
Medical vs Recreational Marijuana
Now that we have made a clear distinction between hemp and cannabis, let’s talk about medical and recreational marijuana/cannabis. Is medical marijuana legal federally? Unfortunately, no. The States are very much divided on the question of medical and recreational marijuana. Here’s why:
- Medical marijuana contains a lot of compounds that may not be found in recreational marijuana, opposite of what you may have expected to find out. Products used for medical purposes are generally more refined, but when it’s cannabis we are talking about, the medical kind is supposed to be unprocessed, containing higher levels of CBD. In contrast, recreational marijuana has higher levels of THC.
- Generally, in recreational marijuana legal states, everybody who has come of age (18 or over) can buy cannabis for themselves. On the other hand, medical marijuana can be obtained only through a doctor’s recommendation or written certificate.
- Medical marijuana can be used by teenagers if all the conditions are met (e.g., two doctors signing the approval).
The Status of CBD Oil in States Where Marijuana Is Legal
By federal law, hemp-derived CBD oil is legal in all 50 states. Marijuana-derived CBD oil is legal only in the states which have legalized marijuana. However, each state has its own strict rules and regulations regarding CBD oil which was derived from marijuana. If a state has medical and recreational marijuana legalized, that implies all CBD oil is generally considered legal. That is the case in the following states:
- Washington D.C.
Nevertheless, this is not to say there are no growing, selling, buying, or consumption restrictions (CBD oil included). Quite the contrary, each of these marijuana legal states has its own ideas and quirks about the proper way of cultivating cannabis, its usage, retail, and so on. For example, you may need a doctor’s prescription to buy CBD oil.
Here is what rules are to be followed should you find yourself in one of them:
Possession limits: 1 oz per day – 6 plants at home
You’re required to be over 21 years of age in order to be allowed to buy and carry with you an ounce of cannabis. In order to control the retail business, you are permitted to receive or give as a present an ounce, too.
Alaska made marijuana legal in 2015, but this by no means implies you can carry and consume it wherever you can think of – national parks and certain private property is excluded from acceptable areas and this is the case with all the states in question. Furthermore, you are not to carry it with yourself to your convenience. For example, in the city of Anchorage, cannabis has to be in your trunk if you’re driving, and do not even think of smoking marijuana and driving either. Another curiosity, this time including the federal law: any pilot who is knowingly flying with cannabis on board risks losing their license.
Regarding consumption, you are to take in your daily dose of CBD oil or another kind of cannabis product in a private space – public consumption is forbidden.
Possession limits: 1 oz of the cannabis plant and 8 g of concentrated cannabis – 6 plants
California marijuana laws have allowed medical cannabis usage from 1996 as the first state to do so, but a lot more time had to pass for the state legislation to allow production and sales of cannabis in 2018. So, is marijuana legal in California and can it be smoked anywhere? Well, no. As expected, you cannot enjoy your ounce of cannabis anywhere in public.
When it comes to CBD oil, if it is used for medical purposes, you have to have a prescription from a licensed physician or a county-issued medical marijuana card, just like for any other kind of medical cannabis.
Possession limits: 1 oz of cannabis flower and 8 g of concentrated cannabis or edibles with maximum 800 mg of THC – 6 plants
Cannabis use, production, and sales have been fully legalized since 2012. What is more, registered medical marijuana users are allowed to have up to two ounces of cannabis. Colorado citizens are also very active in trying to alter the marijuana laws and expand the use of medical cannabis so that more illnesses could be treated with it.
Possession limits: 2.5 oz – 12 plants
Obviously, Maine is one of the states which allow you to have and privately grow the largest amount of cannabis in the US. Nevertheless, do bear in mind the flowering restrictions, i.e., only 6 plats are allowed to have flowers at the same time.
If you wish to use medical cannabis, you will have to get permission from a doctor in charge.
Possession limits: 1 oz (10 oz at home) – 12 plants
Where is marijuana legal in Massachusetts? Apparently, at your home, and in retails. Also, do be careful about the quantity restrictions because they depend on the number of people in your household, too. Medical cannabis is allowed even for teenagers under the age of 18, but in this case, they need permissions from two physicians.
Possession limits: 2.5 oz – 12 plants
Is CBD legal in Michigan? Yes, by all means! In this state, you can buy your precious CBD oil without a doctor’s prescription, which is not always the case in other marijuana legal states. Nonetheless, usage of CBD oil is still strictly regulated. It can’t be added to food or drinks, and CBD gummies, coffee, honey, and other edibles are only reserved for medical marijuana patients.
Possession limits: 1 oz, and ⅛ of an ounce of concentrated marijuana – 12 plants
It is interesting that Nevada is protecting its cannabis retail businesses by not allowing you to grow cannabis for personal use unless the area is 25 miles from the nearest state-licensed retail marijuana store. Funny enough, Nevada is one of CBD oil legal states where you can purchase CBD oil on your own, but doctors will only recommend taking it – they aren’t allowed to prescribe it to you. Indeed, doctors can advise you on using medical marijuana and CBD oil, but they will not issue a prescription.
Possession limits: 1 oz, 5 g of CBD extracts, 16 oz of CBD edibles – 4 plants
If you wish to improve your health, you can freely buy CBD oil without the prescription from a doctor, according to Oregon CBD laws. As a matter of fact, they will not formally prescribe it, but rather recommend that you use it. Judging by the increasing number of hemp crop fields in the state, CBD hemp oil will be even more available.
Possession limits: 1 oz – 9 plants
You can freely go shopping for CBD oil in Vermont online or in certified dispensaries, but not at both of them simultaneously. A medical marijuana card is very practical to have if you want to buy products that have a higher concentration of CBD. In addition, patients can own up to 2 ounces.
Possession limits: 1 oz, 16 oz of solid edibles, 7 g of concentrates – 9 plants
It took some time to make CBD legal in Washington, but the state is now more advanced and liberal compared to the others in this respect. CBD oil extracted from hemp became legal back in 2017. You can enjoy the oil by asking for it yourself, or if you are ill, you can get a certificate from a licensed doctor. Still, there’s a catch, as usual. You can’t get CBD oil prescribed for any illness – it has to be on the list of qualifying medical conditions.
Possession limits: 2 oz – 6 plants
According to Washington, D.C. marijuana laws, medical marijuana recommendation will get you up to 2 oz of cannabis, so unless you have the document, you will be fined for possession. Marijuana was legalized here in 2014. Be wary if you haven’t got the right dose of your medical marijuana in DC – tourists cannot get it with their cards. Only the residents have the privilege and they are also in luck since the rules about marijuana treated medical conditions are very loose in Washington D.C. It appears that everybody can get a doctor’s note, even the minors if needs be.
The situation in D.C. is a bit complicated in so that you “can’t” buy or sell cannabis. However, it is OK to give it to someone as a present or get it as a free gift from a marijuana party organizers, or a free present for buying a product.
In spite of the rumors that New York and New Jersey are just a law away from making marijuana and CBD legal for good, this has yet to happen. The state of Illinois has just said yes to the legalization, but you’ll have to wait for January 2020 for the law to become active.
The Bottom Line
Is CBD oil legal or not is a completely logical question, even today when hemp farming is blooming. As you have just seen, even the states in which marijuana or cannabis are legal for both medical and recreational use have their very own sets of laws and rules. Should you wish to buy or consume CBD oil in any of them, take our list as a reminder and pay special attention to the origins of the oil. To consider CBD oil legal, it should have the appropriate (low) level of the substance and an extremely low THC level.