Though hemp is legal federally, the realities behind CBD legality can seem a little more complex. For one, different types of CBD products may be considered differently according to the law. Similarly, who farmed the hemp and the hemp’s THC content can also play a role.

Where Is CBD Legal in all 50 States?

CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a compound found in both hemp and cannabis plants. But unlike other compounds, CBD cannot produce a ‘high’. According to many, the compound offers a variety of benefits for mood, pain, sleep, epilepsy, and many other serious conditions.

However today, there is significant confusion on CBD’s legal status. Overall, there are two types of laws that impact CBD’s legality that consumers should know about: federal and state-specific.

Keep in mind that legislators are still crafting their laws surrounding cannabidiol, so there will undoubtedly change.

Federal Hemp and Cannabidiol Laws

Federally, hemp is legal to farm in all 50 states according to the U.S. Farm Bill. Since 2018, the federal government has distinguished between hemp and cannabis on the basis of THC content. THC, also known as tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main compound that stimulates a high.  According to U.S. law, hemp plants contain less than 0.3 percent THC.

The bill also legalized hemp’s compounds, with a few conditions:

  1. The hemp farmed follows federal regulations
  2. It also follows state regulations
  3. The grower who produced it is licensed

All cannabinoids produced outside of these regulations are technically still Schedule I, just like cannabis. It also means that CBD produced by an unlicensed grower is still illegal, or CBD that comes from plants with more than 0.3 percent THC content.

However, CBD isolate and full-spectrum products are federally legal if they stay within these guidelines.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Here is where it gets complicated. Since CBD is an active ingredient in Epidiolex, an FDA-approved pharmaceutical to control seizures, it cannot be considered a dietary supplement by the FDA. This means that the FDA has to research the compound as it would a pharmaceutical drug.

CBD’s legal status will be impacted by a final FDA decision on its production, applications and medical and medicinal benefits. But as explained by the Food and Drug Administration’s website, “The FDA is currently evaluating the regulatory frameworks that apply to certain cannabis-derived products that are intended for non-drug uses.”

Until July 2019, the FDA was seeking public comments on cannabidiol to help in their analysis of its benefits and effects. Today, none of the CBD oil, edibles, vape juice or topicals on the market are FDA-approved because there is no process for this yet.

Is CBD Legal in Every State?

Local CBD laws may contradict federal ones. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, Idaho, Mississippi and South Dakota were the only states without hemp programs. Every other state permits hemp farming, processing, research and sale in line with the 2018 Farm Bill.

The most accurate source of information is to check state websites for notices on changes to CBD’s legal status. For example, New York City has recently started enforcing a ban on CBD-infused drinks and food. Meanwhile, in Texas, legislators recently legalized the farming of hemp with less than 0.3 percent THC.

For some states, cannabidiol is the only legal form of medical “cannabis” available. These states include”

  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Some of these states (such as Texas) allow slightly higher THC-content hemp for specific conditions, such as seizures. But as a rule, medical patients in these states only have access to CBD oil, not vapes or topicals. Other states have only legalized certain extraction methods, such as CO2 extraction.

How to Choose Legal CBD

In some states, CBD is neither fully legal nor illegal. Instead, it exists in a legal grey area. Others have more comprehensive regulation on hemp farming and processing, and what types of CBD products are fully legal. However, across the U.S., finding quality cannabidiol is largely left up to the consumer for now.

Here are two things to look for when choosing CBD that suggest that your product is in line with federal laws:

  1. Hemp producer license: You want to make sure that the hemp was grown in a country with comprehensive hemp farming laws on quality and control.
  2. Third-party lab testing: This will show you how much CBD vs THC and other compounds exist within your product.

The important thing to remember is that hemp and cannabis are legally distinct today. Though state laws and the FDA have yet to catch up with consumer demand for cannabidiol, expect CBD’s legality to become more clear sooner rather than later.