Understanding the Legal Status of CBD Oil: Key Insights and Regulations

In some states, it might seem as if new stores selling CBD oil and other related products keep popping up by the day. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise. An increasing number of people are becoming aware of the supposed benefits of the cannabis plant component. Manufacturers and vendors are trying to cash in on the rising popularity.



It can, however, get confusing when trying to determine whether CBD oil is legal. There is a seeming hot debate across the nation on this matter. You are probably concerned about possibly finding yourself on the wrong side of the law by using it. We provide in this article useful information to help you know what to do to avoid trouble.


It is helpful to know a little about the compounds present in the cannabis plant to better understand the current debate.

The cannabis or marijuana plant contains chemical substances known as cannabinoids. Of these numerous, naturally occurring compounds, the most popular are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or simply tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and cannabidiol (CBD). Experts say both of these compounds have medicinal properties and help with a variety of disorders.

THC, arguably the most well-known cannabinoid, is mainly responsible for the psychoactive tendency of cannabis. CBD, on the other hand, is not mind-altering – a reason more people are embracing its use.

The two major cannabinoids bind to different receptors in the human endocannabinoid system. This explains why one is psychoactive and the other is not.

Confusion over Legality

The federal and state governments are not speaking with one voice on whether CBD products are legal. Under federal law, you could be arrested for selling or possessing such items. It is, however, completely legal in some states to use compounds in the cannabis plant.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) maintains that CBD is a controlled substance – you cannot use it without a doctor’s prescription. According to the agency, buying cannabidiol products is illegal. The reason for this is that it comes from parts of the marijuana plant a controlled substance.

The power to add or remove substances from the controlled substances list is vested in the U.S. Congress and not the DEA, some may argue. However, the above definition of what constitutes marijuana effectively makes CBD a controlled substance.

Congress is currently trying to remove the compound from the list of controlled substances.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), regards cannabidiol as a drug that cannot be marketed as a supplement for therapeutic purposes. The only approved drug currently containing the compound – Epidiolex – is available only on prescription.

While the DEA deems CBD oil illegal, some states think otherwise. Many states have legislation that seems to permit use for medical reasons. However, allowed use and manner of use often differ between states. Almost all of the states in the U.S. permit the use of CBD to differing degrees.

However, some states do not allow facilities that sell products containing this compound. What this means is that interested users may only be able to buy such online.

Cannabis, including its compounds, is completely legal in states such as Colorado, Washington, and Alaska. However, Idaho, Indiana, and Nebraska are among the states that still regard CBD as illegal.

FDA does not approve of the myriad CBD products that are currently available on the market. It is, however, considering whether to allow the use of the cannabinoid more freely.

As things stand, there could be a consequence if federal officials find CBD with high THC content in possession of or to have been used by someone.

The Farm Bill

One thing that might make the CBD oil debate more confusing is the DEA’s stance despite the passing of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018. The legislation (also referred to as the Farm Bill) may be seen as an improvement on the original Agricultural Act of 2014.

Under the Farm Bill, hemp-derived CBD is legal if it has no more than 0.3% THC content, by dry weight. This, in effect, keeps the version of the compound that comes from the marijuana plant illegal.

The confusion over the legality of cannabidiol probably remains because of the conditions included in the bill. For instance, the law requires that the originating hemp plant must be grown by a licensed producer and in a manner that meets all relevant regulations for CBD to be legal. This essentially means its oil and other products could still be illegal when they have no more than allowed THC content if those conditions are not met.

It is also said that CBD is only legal if extracted from hemp fiber or seeds. But it mostly comes from the flowers and leaves of the plant.

The much we can say is that the Farm Bill makes CBD with lower than 0.3% of THC legal across all states in the U.S. However, the relevant regulatory agencies and states seem to have different opinions on the matter.

Source Means Everything

It is apparent from the foregoing that the source of your CBD oil has a major role to play in its legality.

There is a distinction between the types of cannabis plants when trying to decide what is legal. At the federal level, two variants are recognized: the hemp plant and the marijuana plant.

Producers typically grow the marijuana plant for its high THC content more than the CBD content. The THC levels in this plant could be up to 30 percent, or even higher. On the other hand, its CBD levels can supposedly be lower than 0.2 percent, on average.

Hemp is somewhat the reverse of marijuana. This least processed cannabis plant has higher levels of cannabidiol and only trace amounts of THC. Products containing traces of THC are typically described as “full-spectrum.”

According to the Farm Bill, only CBD that originates from the hemp plant is legal. That which comes from the marijuana plant is not.

Talking about the Farm Bill; it doesn’t state that CBD is legal. It merely implies that the compound may be so if it is extracted from the seeds and fiber of the hemp plant. It is not yet clear if this is possible.

A number of the so-called CBD oil products are more or less hempseed oil, which is legal under federal law. But hempseed oil isn’t the same thing as the real thing.

There is no consensus on whether it’s possible to extract CBD from hempseed. If it is, the amount may be too little.

Tests carried out on some products by the FDA a few years back revealed that CBD content was often lower than the amounts on the labels. The compound was reportedly not even present at all in some offerings.

Confusion over the legality of CBD products scares away many retailers from stocking them. These businesses are especially often concerned about possible punitive action by federal agents. Most users, therefore, order these products online.

Do Your Due Diligence

If you are looking to try out CBD oil, there are key factors you should pay attention to. These can help ensure you are getting good quality and safe products. The following are some of them:

Source – This is pretty self-explanatory. From all we have discussed so far, it is clear you need to buy only CBD oil from hemp. Such a product is less likely to get you on the wrong side of the law and is not mind-altering.

Manufacturer – Is the maker of the product you’re buying an obscure company? That’s one of the questions you need to ask yourself. Find out where the company is from, how long it’s been in business, and what people say about its products. It may be better to go for one that uses hemp grown in the U.S.

Label – You should have a look at the ingredients in the product. Does it contain unnecessary additives? What are the amounts of CBD and THC in the offering?

Certificate of Analysis (COA) – Top-quality CBD oil will usually come with a COA. You can find this on the label or you may request it from the manufacturer. The COA shows independent lab testing results regarding strength and purity. It is good if it indicates that the lab that did the testing is ISO 17025 compliant.

Failure to consider these factors could result in you buying CBD oil that is ineffective. Worse still, you may put yourself at risk of being penalized by drug law enforcement officials.


Hemp-derived CBD is legal at the federal level, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it can be sold as a food or dietary supplement. State laws aren’t always in consonance with federal legislation about cannabinoids.

Some parts of the cannabis plant regarded as illegal at the federal level are legal in many states. The best way you can be sure of your safety against legal action is by checking local laws. There are organizations, including the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, that provide information on the legal status in different states.

In many states, you can legally buy and use CBD oil with a THC content of less than 0.3%. You can get it online if local law in your area somehow makes it hard to get.

Even with CBD being regarded as illegal in some places, arrests are not common. People are usually not arrested for having it in their possession. Drug law enforcement officials may arrest someone for selling these products in such areas, but they mostly just seize them.

It is critical to ensure that the CBD oil you buy does not contain THC higher than the stipulated threshold. You can fail a drug test if you do and that is capable of denying you some federal opportunities.



Is CBD legal? – CNET (https://www.cnet.com/news/where-is-cbd-legal/)



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