CBD seems to be everywhere these days, but its legal status can still be puzzling to the layperson. Laws vary widely from state to state — and not all CBD is created equal (or derived from the same plant, to be precise). This has led many people to wonder if they’ll get in trouble for using CBD.
The answer is probably not, with a few notable exceptions. Most CBD products are derived from industrial hemp, which was legalized for large-scale cultivation by the 2018 Farm Bill. However, some CBD products are derived from the marijuana plant, which complicates things quite significantly. And in some places, CBD is classified as a controlled substance no matter which plant it comes from.
Keeping track of all these rules can be a pain, and it’s not something most people would like to leave to chance. With that in mind, here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know about the legal status of CBD.
According to Forbes, “CBD from hemp is a non-issue — has been for some time.” That’s why the packaging of many CBD products will cheerfully inform you that the product was made from pure, all-natural hemp. If you’ve started seeing CBD on the shelves of your local pharmacy or supermarket, it’s almost certain that those products are derived from hemp.
CBD from marijuana is a trickier subject. Although there was initially some speculation that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would soften its stance on marijuana-derived CBD due to its proven medical benefits, this never came to pass, and marijuana-derived CBD remains a Schedule I substance under federal law. This means that it’s only available in states that have legalized medical or recreational cannabis, and only from approved sources like a licensed dispensary.
That seems simple enough — just stick with CBD that’s derived from hemp, and you’ll be fine no matter where you go, right?
If only it were that simple. There are some notable exceptions to this rule, and if you want to make sure you don’t run afoul of the law, you should probably keep reading.
Currently, there are three states that completely prohibit all CBD products. Their reasoning is that, since CBD is derived from the cannabis sativa plant, it’s therefore derived from marijuana (which ignores the scientific consensus that only cannabis sativa plants with high amounts of the psychoactive compound THC are considered “marijuana,” while plants with only trace amounts of THC are considered “hemp”).
Those states are:
Here’s a handy map that can help you find the specific laws for your state.
If you don’t see your state on either of those lists, you’re free to use hemp-based CBD in any way you please. And if you live in a state with legal cannabis, you can give marijuana-based CBD a try as well (though it’ll likely be a bit harder to find). Make sure you do your homework, though, especially if you do a lot of travel.
Finally, if you’d like to learn more about the legal status of CBD where you live, check out this comprehensive list of cannabis laws for each state.