Is CBD oil legal?

Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
August 15, 2020
CBD Oil Legaliy
CBD Oil Legaliy

Around the country states are rapidly changing their laws about cannabis and it’s derivatives, so it’s understandably confusing and normal to be unsure and to ask the question, is CBD oil legal. Federally, yes, but …. Some states deem CBD oil either fully illegal or under certain terms. Hemp-derived CBD is legal if and only if it contains less than 0.3% THC. If the CBD is not hemp-derived, even if it has 0.0% THC, it is still illegal.


Since Cannabis was made federally illegal in the US in 1937 – it also made CBD (cannabidiol) illegal.


Unlike TCH which is psychoactive – CBD is one of the many non-intoxicating compounds found in the resin of  the cannabis plant.

CBD and the Farm Bill

Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill hemp-derived CBD from legally grown industrial hemp with less than 0.3% THC by dry weight is considered legal by the US Federal Government, while marijuana-derived CBD is not. So the source of the CBD matters.


The effect of the Farm Bill was that CBD was no longer considered a prohibited substance, effectively making the sale of CBD products legal, according to the DEA (drug enforcement agency.)


There is a catch however in that although sale of  hemp-derived CBD oil is federally legal – making any wellness or medical claims about the product is prohibited in the same way they can sell nutritional supplements that are not FDA approved.


This law has also made the sale of CBD Hemp Flower legal too and is now very popular when people don’t want THC.


Hemp is a much better source for CBD as hemp plants have a much higher concentration of CBD than cannabis plants, which on the other hand typically have a higher THC concentration.


Despite the differences between cannabis and hemp, the CBD extracted from each is rather similar with the main difference between hemp and cannabis being the amount of THC in the varieties.

Access to CBD

So you may be wondering if there are so many issues surrounding whether it’s legal or illegal, how do you know you’re getting something that’s ok to use? Well, the best approach to managing this concern is to talk to your healthcare professionals, and if your state allows it, and you meet the conditions and criteria, you can get a prescription. That can then be filled at a state-approved legal medical marijuana dispensary.


But that’s not your only option. Many stores, beginning with natural pharmacies, and now even general stores, are offering products containing CBD, or selling CBD oil directly. If the store is reputable, chances are the products you’re able to purchase are legal.


But there are additional concerns you should be aware of, too. Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it will be the right choice for your or your interests. That’s why it’s best to speak with a specialist well-versed in the uses and types of CBD. They will be able to tell you if you would benefit most from a CBD-isolate or a full spectrum CBD product. A particular concern of some is the THC content, even in hemp-derived CBD. If you are subject to regular drug testing, say from a school or job, any amount of THC could be problematic, even if it’s legal and prescribed. So in those instances, finding a CBD isolate, with 0.0% CBD is the best option.


ONLY CBD DERIVED FROM HEMP is legal according to the DEA.


CBD derived from cannabis, even if it has 0% THC, is still not legal according to the Federal Government. But hey this is the government we are talking about. It doesn’t have to make sense for CBD oil to be legal.


So with the similarity in the CBD extraction, the focus on hemp vs cannabis CBD comes downs to availability, yield, and legality. Hemp is just plain easier to grow, to grow more of, and to grow it legally.


That alone increases the supply and therefore access to it.