Is CBD Legal? Everything You Need to Know

The legal requirements for CBD.

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Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a chemical compound that is derived and extracted from the cannabis sativa plant. Minus a handful of countries, the cannabis plant is illegal all over the world. This is because the cannabis plant (or marijuana plant) is associated with bad social behaviour due to the plant giving people “a high.” This high effect is due to one out of over 100 compounds in the plant. The one compound associated with the high or psychoactive effect is called Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It’s THC that has made cannabis illegal under the controlled substances act. However CBD is also illegal in some areas, but laws are often a lot more lenient.

CBD legality is a very grey area to cover and is not exactly straightforward. CBD is legal in all 50 states, but there are circumstances in certain states where it is not legal. But does that make it technically illegal or decriminalized? A key factor to consider is where the CBD came from. Did it come from industrial hemp (the hemp plant) – known as hemp oil – or did it come from the marijuana/cannabis plant?

What Is the Difference Between Marijuana & Hemp?

Hemp and marijuana are both plant species and are both from cannabis sativa. Although they are from the same plant family, they have very different properties. Hemp only shares 0.3% THC, the psychoactive compound, while marijuana has 10% of the psychoactive compound. Hemp has a large historical background dating back to 10,000 years ago. In China it was used for making clothes, for making rope and for medicine. In this day and age, hemp is used for making soap, concrete, clothes, and motor parts. While, outside of medical use, marijuana is used for recreational uses and for getting high.

There are no laws regarding hemp as it does not contain any psychoactive components. Hemp derived CBD products are completely legal and available for purchase in all types of industries. Marijuana derived CBD on the other hand doesn’t have the same freedom and luxuries as hemp does because of its psychoactive components. It’s also because the CBD from marijuana is THC-rich even when it’s extracted and formed into its isolated form. This is because the government view it as a “byproduct of marijuana.”

There are 17 states in the United States with laws specifically about legal cannabidiol (CBD). Some states have different laws and there are even some on a federal government level.These are: (In alphabetical order):

  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • South Carolina
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Here Is a List of States That Have Legalized Marijuana

This list is in alphabetical order. Following the state, it will inform you on whether it is legal for medical and/or recreational purposes. The information provided below is updated as far as february 2018).

  1. Alaska: Medical and recreational
  2. Arizona: Medical only
  3. Arkansas: Medical only
  4. California: Medical and recreational
  5. Colorado: Medical and recreational
  6. Connecticut: Medical only
  7. Delaware: Medical only
  8. District of Columbia: Medical and recreational
  9. Florida: Medical only
  10. Hawaii: Medical only
  11. Illinois: Medical only
  12. Louisiana: Medical only
  13. Maine: Medical and recreational
  14. Maryland: Medical only
  15. Massachusetts: Medical and recreational
  16. Michigan: Medical only
  17. Minnesota: Medical only
  18. Montana: Medical only
  19. Nevada: Medical and recreational
  20. New Hampshire: Medical only
  21. New Jersey: Medical only
  22. New Mexico: Medical only
  23. New York: Medical only
  24. Ohio: Medical only
  25. Oregon: Medical and recreational
  26. Pennsylvania: Medical only
  27. Rhode Island: Medical and recreational
  28. Vermont: Medical and recreational
  29. Washington: Medical only

In total there are 46 states where marijuana can be used for medical purposes. There are 8 states where cannabis is 100% legal to use publicly, privately, and without a prescription. These numbers seem favourable compared to 17 states that have strict laws and legislation regarding the use of the cannabis plant. Federal law also still qualifies marijuana as an illegal drug.

As the cannabis movement continues, scientists, medical experts, and governments all over the world are joining forces for the cannabis movement in hopes of growing the international medical marijuana industry and related revenue. This itself speaks for medical cannabis’ medicinal properties benefits for people using it to treat a range of ailments. As this movement grows and improves, we see an optimistic future that both hemp-derived and marijuana-derived CBD will be completely and 100% legal in all 50 states across America within the next 5 years.

Niamh Tumilty
Niamh Tumilty
Niamh Tumilty is a writer and multimedia producer for cannabisMD where she is constantly evaluating the continued growth of CBD and its presence in the news. Her research and writing on cannabis and CBD can be found at

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