Cannabidiol is an amazing organic compound found in the cannabis plant that has garnered attention for its unique therapeutic value and rich-history of treating diseases and painful conditions. Modern medical research has confirmed what herbalists have known for millennia and cannabis derived health products are in high demand by those looking for alternative treatments.
Despite its considerable contributions to human health, cannabis is still very much a controlled substance and those seeking CBD treatment must arm themselves with information. Because of the great discrepancies in legal codes from state to state, it is easy to get confused about which cannabis products are and are not available to you according to your location in the US.
The following article will shed some light on the legalities of CBD use as of April 2019. Because so many of these laws are in the process of being changed, it will be important to double check your acquisitions with local authorities before doing anything potentially illegal.
CBD Law 101: CBD vs THC
Why was a plant that has so many benefits to human health and better living made illegal? This is because of another cannabinoid closely related to CBD, but with a whole different set of effects on the brain and nervous system. THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive compound found primarily in the resinous blossoms, or buds, and leaves of the plant.
While both CBD and THC have been studied for their extensive therapeutic benefits, CBD does not contain any of the psychoactive properties and will not produce a high or leave the user stoned. You can find out more about the different effects of these two cannabinoids elsewhere on this site, but suffice to say THC is the controlled compound, while CBD is potentially legal anywhere in the country.
CBD Law 102: The 2018 Farm Bill
Considering the potential benefits of the cannabis and hemp industries, the US began slackening the restraints that controlled cannabis use and cultivation. The first step was the 2014 Farm Bill, also known as the Agricultural Act of 2014, which established the groundwork for the hemp industry as we know it today.1
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In 2018, the 2018 Farm Bill was passed and effectively made hemp legal by federal law. This placed hemp under the category of agricultural commodities and is no longer a controlled substance. Further steps were taken when The Hemp Farming Act was introduced as the Senate’s contribution to the 2018 Farm Bill. This removed the DEA authority over hemp and gave individual states the authority to preside over hemp cultivation as they see fit.
It should be noted that The Hemp Farming Act is considered the greatest step toward changing our international perspective on the hemp industry.
Hemp vs. Marijuana
At this point, you may have noticed the variations in terms when referring to a single plant. This is understandably confusing. But there is a perfectly logical explanation to this odd nomenclature, it’s all the same plant.
Cannabis is the name of the plant family that contains three distinct species and many hybrids and variations thereof. These are cannabis sativa, cannabis indica and cannabis ruderalis. The term industrial hemp describes the variety of cannabis sativa that is cultivated for it’s various practical and therapeutic reasons.
These typically contain less than 1% THC content. The term marijuana (but also cannabis, weed, and many other terms) refers to the plants that are cultivated for their THC content. They usually have about 5% to 10% THC content, but some strains are much higher.
If the state in which you reside does not permit marijuana even for medical purposes, the amounts of THC in the product will determine its legality. Most often the limit is too low for CBD to be derived from marijuana plants and must be sourced from industrial hemp alone. The limit could be 1%, but 0.3% is the rule of thumb that will keep you legally safe across the country.2
In some places like Delaware the THC limit is as high as 5% for CBD oils and hemp products. Even still, these quantities of THC are far too small to have any psychoactive effects even if taken in larger amounts. This is partially because the higher CBD content has a dampening effect on THC in the body.
Where is CBD Legal?
Under the new laws that went into effect in 2019, CBD derived from hemp is completely legal at a federal level. Nevertheless, some states have tighter restrictions for CBD cultivation and distribution that must be adhered to. In other states, marijuana use is legal for medical and recreational use and CBD products of all types and contents will be no problem.
There are ten states that have lifted all bans on marijuana and recreational users can partake of these products with no fear of legal debacle. In these states, you can purchase CBD oils derived from industrial hemp or from the marijuana plant itself. Some sources claim that CBD oils derived from the marijuana plant provide superior effects and still have no psychoactive properties.
The ten states where all cannabis use is legal are:
On the other side of the coin, there are only 3 states that have severe restrictions on all cannabis and tighter rules for industrial hemp and its various products. This will mean the only products available will be those hemp derived CBD products with 0.3% or better yet 0% THC levels.
The following three states have severe restrictions on cannabis and all derived products:
- South Dakota
If you are in any of these states you will need to study the production of your CBD products and make sure they align to state regulations.
Final Thoughts on CBD Legality
Even if there are tighter restrictions on CBD products in the area you live, don’t fret. The laws are rapidly changing and very soon you may find a wider variety of CBD containing treatment options available to you. Keep a close eye on the laws that pertain to your CBD use for new developments.
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