Cannabidiol (CBD) continues to make headlines, and the industry is booming like never before. The term CBD is officially household terminology, and people everywhere are talking, buying, selling, or taking CBD in one form or another.
However, no matter how much popularity CBD gains, people are still wondering if this wellness craze is legal. The answer is not so straightforward and has a lot of complicated contingencies. But what does the CBD start-up business, hemp farmer, CBD entrepreneur, and others, need to know to succeed in this industry? Below we’ve broken down the need-to-know regarding all things CBD.
Background on CBD
CBD is a cannabinoid found inside the resin glands, or trichomes, of the plant known as Cannabis Sativa. This plant is typically divided into two families: marijuana and hemp. While CBD can be found in both marijuana plants and hemp plants, this chemical compound is found most abundantly in hemp. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), on the other hand, CBD’s most commonly known associate, is found in its most substantial quantities in the marijuana plant.
Unlike THC, CBD has no psychoactive component, meaning it doesn’t get you high upon ingestion or inhalation. CBD is valued for its many therapeutic effects, and has become a popular ingredient in dietary supplements, oils and tinctures, powders, treats for pets, topicals and creams, and many other formats.
CBD Legalities Put Simply
Hemp-derived CBD is legal in the United States. Additionally, it is legal to cultivate, process, and possess hemp in the United States, with significant licensing and handling restrictions. Beyond that, the details get a bit complicated, but perhaps the best place to start is with a little historical context.
Brief History of Legal Hemp and Marijuana
The 1970 Controlled Substance Act originally included hemp as a Schedule 1 substance, which is a drug with a high potential for abuse, no valid medical use, and lack of acceptable safety record. At that point, like any other Schedule 1 drug, hemp was illegal to cultivate, process, use, or distribute. In 2004, the Hemp Industries Association won an important battle with the DEA in court that forced a distinction between non-psychoactive hemp and marijuana, which protected the sale of hemp-containing foods. Hemp cultivation licenses were issued not long after that to a few farmers under the protection of the Farm Bill of 2014, which officially allowed states to issue hemp licenses for the purpose of research in association with a college and university supervised project.
Up until these strides were made, hemp and hemp derivatives were grouped together with marijuana. However, when medical marijuana was legalized in California in 1996 and other states soon followed, research into the effects of CBD began to pick up steam. Soon, personal stories from the public arose about the positive benefits of taking CBD for an array of ailments, including epilepsy, inflammation, cancer, anxiety, arthritis, insomnia, and more. These stories played a major role in transforming the public stigma of marijuana, hemp, and CBD.
2018 Farm Bill
The 2018 Farm Bill, more formally known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, federally legalized hemp and hemp derivatives regarding their cultivation, production, and distribution. The 2018 Farm Bill also gave a clear classification of hemp, defining it as any part of the Cannabis sativa plant, “including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a [THC] concentration of not more than 0.3 percent.” This federally legalized hemp-derived CBD. Still, many states have differing laws internally, and it’s important to be familiar with your state’s individual regulations and restrictions.
USDA Interim Final Rule
In October of 2019, the USDA issued an interim set of final rules and regulations for the production of hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill. This rule outlines several requirements a hemp producer must meet in order to produce hemp, including hemp licensing, documentation on the land for hemp production, hemp testing procedures for THC content and quality control, and disposal processes. States are required to submit proposals as to how they will regulate and abide by these regulations, and this process is currently still very much in the works.
CBD Legalities Today
Today, hemp-derived CBD is federally legal, but conflicting federal and state laws seem to be a source of much of the confusion. The FDA is still testing and researching to evaluate the “safety” of CBD, but has yet to come to a final stance. Meantime, CBD sales are skyrocketing and it remains one of the most intriguing, developing markets in the world.
Below, we’ve compiled a summary of each individual state’s stance on CBD for your reference. With this in mind, it’s crucial to stay up to date as the CBD industry continues to change every day. Additionally, for simplicity’s sake, CBD in this context represents hemp-derived CBD under the definition of hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill.
Alabama: CBD is legal.
Alaska: Retailers must register with the Department of Natural Resources to sell hemp products.
Arizona: CBD is legal.
Arkansas: CBD is legal.
California: CBD is mostly legal, but California Department of Public health claims CBD is illegal in all foods and beverages.
Colorado: CBD is legal.
Connecticut: CBD is legal to purchase and consume.
Delaware: CBD is legal.
Florida: CBD is legal, but currently unregulated as the FDACS is developing commercial hemp regulations.
Georgia: CBD is legal.
Hawaii: CBD is illegal without a prescription.
Idaho: CBD is legal if it contains no THC; products with any amount of THC are illegal.
Illinois: CBD is legal.
Indiana: CBD is legal to buy, sell, and possess.
Iowa: CBD is legally sold in dispensaries.
Kansas: CBD is legal.
Kentucky: CBD is legal.
Louisiana: CBD is legal if it contains no THC; products with any amount of THC are illegal.
Maine: CBD is legal, as long as no medical claims are made to promote the product.
Maryland: CBD is legal.
Massachusetts: CBD is legal, but foods containing CBD and CBD products that make medical claims are illegal.
Michigan: CBD is legal
Minnesota: CBD is legal
Mississippi: CBD is currently legal as a medical treatment only.
Missouri: CBD is legal for approved medical patients, and hemp production regulations are being developed
Montana: CBD is legal, but unregulated.
Nebraska: CBD is legal, but retail sale is heavily monitored.
Nevada: CBD products are legal, but illegal as a food additive, pending FDA approval.
New Hampshire: CBD is legal, unless added to food.
New Jersey: CBD is legal; hemp production program pending USDA approval.
New Mexico: CBD is legal.
New York: CBD is legal, pending governor signature, but illegal in food and beverages.
North Carolina: CBD is legal for approved medical patients only, but legislation is in progress to change that.
North Dakota: CBD is legal, but hemp with a higher concentration than 0.3 percent THC is still considered a controlled substance.
Ohio: CBD is legal in regulated dispensaries, but legislation is in progress to change that.
Oklahoma: CBD is legal with detailed labeling requirements.
Oregon: CBD is legal if tested in a Oregon certified lab.
Pennsylvania: CBD is legal.
Rhode Island: CBD is legal.
South Carolina: CBD is legal.
South Dakota: CBD is illegal, though attempted legislation changes are in progress
Tennessee: CBD is legal.
Texas: CBD is legal if it contains no THC, but different localities implement different regulations.
Utah: CBD is legal with an approved hemp extract registration card from the Utah Department of Health
Vermont: CBD is legal.
Virginia: CBD is legal, unless added to foods.
Washington: CBD is legally sold at licensed dispensaries.
West Virginia: CBD is legal, and hemp production regulations are in progress.
Wisconsin: CBD is legal with physician certification.
Wyoming: CBD is legal.
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