Is CBD Oil legal?
This is a question that seems to have no completely uncontroversial answer at the moment. The legal status of CBD is in constant flux with both federal and state lawmakers regularly making subtle and often contradictory changes to their positions.
The gray area arises from the problematic legal status of cannabis as a whole. Since cannabis is still illegal by federal law and in most states, any products extracted from it are also of questionable legal status.
Hemp is entirely legal, however, making its products acceptable across all states. It is difficult to regulate CBD products though, because it is difficult to establish its source. The legal solution is to make the question a matter of THC content. High THC content indicates that the product is extracted from cannabis, while no THC or trace levels of the substance, points to hemp. In 2018, Congress passed the Agriculture Improvement Act, which legalized CBD that is extracted from hemp (as opposed to cannabis) and has a THC content of no more than 0.3%.
The Farm Bill complicates matters, however. This piece of legislation stipulates that hemp farmers must be licensed and grow their plants in accordance with federal guidelines. This means that unlicensed growers who are using their own methods are still producing illegal products, even if the products in question contain less than the legal amount of THC.
And, it gets even more muddy when we consider that the FDA considers CBD to be a drug ingredient. This is because it is used in prescription medications such as Epidiolex. As such, all CBD products are subject to FDA drug approval processes. The FDA still has not decided on any clear resolution on how to deal with CBD-based supplements, which are currently entering the market in large numbers. While these products are technically not legal without FDA approval, the agency has relaxed its enforcement measures considering the many legal and legislative uncertainties.
State laws make the matter even more difficult to understand. Many states are still updating their laws in this regard and are, therefore, not always in line with federal actions. In those states that have legalized cannabis (Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Michigan, as well as the District of Columbia) the legal status of hemp and its products is fairly unambiguous. In Colorado, for example, the entire hemp plant is cleared for use in food and supplements. In states where cannabis remains illegal, hemp tends to be treated with caution and state authorities are reluctant to grant it legal status. In Texas, for example, in contrast with the federal guidelines regarding THC content, no product containing any amount of the ingredient is legal.
With all of these ambiguities and uncertainties, the best way to establish the legality of CBD products is to consider each one on its own merits. The following should be investigated by consumers and retailers when purchasing CBD products:
Hemp grown in the U.S. is preferable to imported varieties, since the latter are not subject to the federal regulations stipulated in the Farm Bill.
- Certificate of Analysis:
This document contains the results of an analysis of the product carried out by an independent laboratory.
- Testing Methods:
The lab testing the product should work in accordance with ISO 17025 standards.
The certificate of analysis must state the amount of CBD contained in the product, both in total and by dose.
Products that don’t have this information may or may not be legal, but should be avoided just in case.