Although cultures around the world have used cannabis for centuries, Americans are just now beginning to understand what cannabis and the chemical compounds in it do to the human body. Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, in particular, has become wildly popular for its alleged health benefits, but is CBD oil legal?
Every U.S. state allows for the use of cannabis in some form, but each state’s laws are different. For example, Washington state law allows residents to legally consume CBD oil for recreational purposes, whereas South Dakota state law categorizes CBD as a Schedule IV controlled substance and allows citizens to use CBD only in forms that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, e.g., Epidiolex.
When Is CBD Oil Illegal?
Both industrial hemp and marijuana are members of the cannabis family, but they are treated differently under federal law. Industrial hemp, as defined by the federal government, is cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC by weight. Marijuana is defined as any cannabis that contains more than 0.3% THC by weight.
America’s relationship with cannabis is complicated. According to federal law, cannabis — including CBD — is still predominantly illegal, although there are exceptions. Even with the continuing federal prohibition of cannabis, most U.S. states have enacted their own cannabis-related laws. As such, CBD oils reside in a legal grey area.
It depends. In terms of federal law, the legality of CBD oil depends largely on where the CBD came from and where it is being used, so it is important to understand some cannabis fundamentals.
In states where recreational marijuana is legal, the list of cannabis-derived products greatly expands to include CBD with much higher THC content than 0.3%.
Trey Malone receives funding from the U.S. Department if Agriculture, the Charles Koch Foundation, and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
CBD is a compound found in cannabis. There are hundreds of such compounds, which are termed “cannabinoids,” because they interact with receptors involved in a variety of functions like appetite, anxiety, depression and pain sensation. THC is also a cannabinoid.
Hemp, marijuana and cannabanoidals
Consumers concerned about content and the accuracy of CBD products, which are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, can look for certification from independent lab testing or by scanning a QR code on product packaging.
A stand at the 2019 Southern Hemp Expo, in Tennessee. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
Full spectrum CBD products for sale, including tinctures, topical creams, edible gummies and pet products. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
The current federal prohibition of marijuana, in other words, does not align with the public’s view – though state-based legalization shows that society is moving on without the blessing of politicians on Capitol Hill. U.S. recreational marijuana retail sales may reach US$8.7 billion in 2021, up from $6.7 billion in 2016.