Is CBD and Hemp Legal?

Sep 25, 2019

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, more commonly referred to as CBD, is just one of the many cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant. Unlike its well-known cousin, tetrahydrocannabinol - better known as THC, CBD is non psychoactive. While THC will give users a "stoned" or "high" feeling, CBD does not. In fact, CBD is often taken to counteract the effects of THC - when users feel too "high." The research linking CBD to pain relief, appetite support and sleep aid has caused the popularity of the substance to skyrocket over the last few years.

We mentioned that CBD comes from the cannabis plant which is broken down into two plant categories: hemp and marijuana. CBD can be isolated from either type of plant, although it is generally found in higher percentages in the hemp plant.

What is Hemp?

Hemp has primarily been grown for industrial purposes, being used to make materials like paper, clothes, textiles and more. Although the hemp and marijuana plants are from the same cannabis species, they are distinct in their genetic makeup, chemical composition and cultivation methods. While marijuana and cannabis are terms that are sometimes used interchangeably throughout legal definitions for controlled substances, the term 'hemp' is solely used to describe industrial cannabis. Throughout history, the cannabis plant has been very controversial and the similarities between hemp and marijuana has caused hemp to be banned for decades. The regulations and taxations on hemp have deep roots in the US, with federal taxation beginning as far back as the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. In 1970, the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 declared that all types of cannabis were considered Schedule I drugs - including hemp. This act basically made hemp farming illegal in the U.S. and it had remained that way until very recently, with the introduction of the Farm Bill.

What is The 2018 Farm Bill?

As cannabis gained popularity and was building into a multibillion-dollar industry, more and more farmers in the U.S. were lobbying the federal government to lift the ban on hemp cultivation. In 2014, President Obama signed The Agricultural Act of 2014, better known as the 2014 Farm Bill. This bill began paving the way for the future of hemp. With this bill, it loosened federal restrictions and allowed for universities and state agricultural departments to grow hemp for the purpose of research. States to establish industrial hemp programs for research purposes were California, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

In 2018, President Trump opened the doors to hemp even further. President Trump signed the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill. With the signing of the bill, hemp was official recognized by the federal government as a legal agricultural product. This bill not only allows farmers to cultivate the product but also transport it across state lines. In turn, any CBD product derived from the hemp plant is legal in all 50 states and is able to be sold across any state lines.

Is CBD Legal?

With the legalization of marijuana in certain states and the recent passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, this can be a confusing question. While there have been a few states to legalize THC and marijuana derived CBD, it is important to recognize that any CBD sourced from the marijuana cannabis plant is still federally illegal and classified as a Schedule I drug.

Now that the 2018 Farm Bill has passed, any CBD derived from the hemp plant and grown by licensed farmers in accordance with federal regulations - is legal. Once again, hemp derived CBD means that the source of the CBD from MUST  come from a plant with less than 0.3% THC. Despite hemp-derived CBD being legal, there are still some restrictions placed on the cannabinoid.

The FDA strictly prohibits companies from selling CBD as a dietary supplement. According to the FDA, a dietary supplement is any substance that has not previously authorized for investigation to be used as a new drug or medicine. In 2013, GW Pharmaceuticals was granted permission to begin clinical trials on CBD and numerous trials have been conducted using CBD as seizure medication. They are calling the CBD-based seizure reducing drug 'pidiolex.' So, since CBD is currently being used as a seizure reducing drug, it cannot legally be called a dietary supplement under the FDA's definition. There are a number of cannabis companies that are fighting this point, stating that they were marketing CBD as a dietary supplement long before GW Pharmaceuticals placed a patent on CBD. However, the FDA has been unwilling to change their position on the topic in recent years.

Despite hemp derived CBD being federally legal, each state has the right to impose more strict regulations if they so wish. Many states still have not adjusted their laws to match the federal government, and as such it is best to check your state's specific CBD regulations online.

Is CBD Legal World Wide?

There are currently a number of other countries around the world where CBD has been legalized. Currently CBD is legal in:

  • Argentina
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Belize 
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China 
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland 
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Guam
  • Guatemala
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico
  • Romania 
  • Russia
  • Slovakia
  • Republic of Slovenia
  • South Africa 
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Virgin Islands
  • United Kingdom 
  • Uruguay 

Where do you stand on the current hemp and marijuana derived CBD regulations put into place by the Federal government? We want to hear from you! Tell us your thoughts in the comments!