Cannabis sativa, a plant species that includes both cannabis and hemp plants, naturally contains the chemical component CBD. (Consider cannabis and hemp to be sisters within the cannabis sativa family.) The key distinction between the two plants is that hemp has higher concentrations of CBD than THC, whereas cannabis plants have higher concentrations of THC. THC is the principal intoxicating and psychoactive component in cannabis.
CBD and THC do not contain the same amount of psychoactive components associated with feeling “high,” according to Mackenzie Slade, director of Cannabis Public Policy Consulting. “CBD is technically a psychoactive cannabinoid, but the psychoactive component is very, very low when derived from hemp plants,” she explains. While CBD will not get you high, preliminary research suggests that it may help with depression and anxiety symptoms, relieve pain, and protect against some neurological diseases.
CBD has also been linked to the prevention of seizures, prompting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve Epidiolex, a prescription drug that contains CBD as an active ingredient.
Despite these advantages, Slade claims that the legality of CBD is a grey area that legal analysts are still debating. Do you recall how CBD can be extracted from both cannabis and hemp plants? Its legality is influenced by its origin. CBD derived from cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 substance by the federal government and is therefore illegal, according to Slade. CBD derived from hemp that contains less than.3% THC by dry weight, on the other hand, is not illegal because hemp is not a controlled substance.
Furthermore, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act makes it illegal to sell CBD products that have not been approved by the FDA. “The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act [states] that once a substance is used as the active ingredient of a new drug that has been approved or authorised for clinical trials, food and beverages containing this ingredient cannot be introduced into interstate commerce. “This is known as the drug exclusion rule,” Slade explains. She explains that the FDA’s approval of Epidiolex precludes the production and sale of any CBD-containing food or beverage. This detail complicates matters further because CBD is commonly found in foods and beverages such as lattes and juices.
Farm Bill of 2018.
The Agriculture Improvement Act (also known as the 2018 Farm Bill) was signed into law in 2018, making 2018 the most significant year for CBD legalisation (so far). “Farm bills are pieces of legislation that govern agricultural production and are updated every few years,” Slade explains. “They essentially serve as enabling laws for the federal government to regulate and provide guidance on agriculture and food.”
The 2018 Farm Bill included hemp cannabis plants for the first time. It effectively made the cultivation, production, and sale of industrial hemp legal and regulated on a federal level. When this change occurred, brands selling CBD-infused products rejoiced because it meant hemp farmers would be able to legally extract CBD from their plants for ingestible purposes. But, according to Slade, their optimism was premature because of the drug exclusion rule, which was already in effect due to the FDA’s approval of Epidiolex.
State-by-State CBD Legalization
All of these complexities make determining whether CBD is legal to sell difficult, and the rules governing CBD possession and use are equally complex. It all comes down to the state you live in, as different states have different CBD regulations. While CBD derived from hemp is legal on a federal level, some states consider using or possessing any cannabis product to be illegal—period. Other states only permit CBD use for medical purposes. The chart below illustrates this variation in greater detail.