A hand holds a hemp leaf in front of an American flag

Is CBD Legal: What to Know Before You Buy

By now, CBD’s popularity has grown exponentially in the United States and throughout the world. And it continues to grow in popularity, as about 14 percent of Americans consider themselves hemp users who take CBD on a frequent basis. As the industry keeps evolving, we’re finding more ways to experience cannabidiol and other hemp compounds on our terms and in a highly personalized manner.

Yet, even as the industry is more popular than ever before, there are still a lot of people who are confused by it. Many people still don’t know whether or not cannabidiol is legal. It’s hard to blame them. In the last century, our country has had a complicated legal relationship with cannabis, so it’s only natural that law-abiding citizens may be hesitant to give hemp a whirl out of fear of legal penalty.

If you’re one of the people who doesn’t know whether or not CBD is legal, keep reading below.

What is CBD?

First, let’s explain what CBD is for those who still aren’t sure. CBD, or cannabidiol, is the dominant chemical compound present in the hemp plant. The hemp plant belongs to the cannabis genus, which is also where marijuana comes from.

CBD is extracted from the hemp plant and used to formulate a wide range of products. The reason for cannabidiol’s immense popularity is because of its unique properties that come from the role it plays in supporting the body’s endocannabinoid system. The body’s endocannabinoid system consists of cannabinoid receptors that are located in just about every system of the human body, and that use CBD to regulate important bodily processes.

It’s important to note that hemp is not a psychoactive plant, and neither is cannabidiol in an isolated form. Marijuana, however, is psychoactive because it contains about 15% to 25% THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the compound that causes users to feel high. Hemp only has about 0.3% THC that is naturally occurring in the plant material, and therefore will not cause mind-altering effects, even in high doses.

What’s the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?

A girl in a yellow sweater holds up a hemp leaf in the sun

Hemp and marijuana are the two main varieties of the cannabis plant. Even though they both fall under the category of cannabis sativa, hemp and marijuana have very different cannabinoid profiles. 

  • Hemp

Hemp is a cannabis sativa variety that naturally contains 0.3% or less THC. If a cannabis variety produces over that amount of THC, it is then classified as a marijuana plant. Ever since the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp has been legal to buy and sell throughout the United States because it was removed from controlled substances act as a schedule I drug. Thanks to the bill, hemp can be legally grown on farms throughout the United States. Interestingly, supplement companies also have access to hemp as a source of nutrition for their products. However, the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, must regulate this as it is considered a nutritional supplement. 

  • Marijuana

When most people hear the word cannabis, they immediately think of marijuana. The marijuana plant is a form of Cannabis Sativa that contains medium to high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, one of the main compounds in the cannabis plant that evokes a euphoric “high” sensation when taken in large quantities. In the United States, marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug, therefore, unless you are living in a state with medicinal or recreational marijuana laws on its books, it’s illegal to possess and use marijuana and any products created from it. 

Are There Legal Issues with CBD for Each State?

Whenever the federal government makes a change to laws, states can either honor this change or have their own state legislature challenge the laws. Cannabis is the perfect example of this. After the Farm Bill was passed, some states decided to uphold the law while others created laws that made it illegal for their citizens to possess the hemp plant, even though it is non-psychoactive. Interestingly, many of these states have changed their positions over the last few months and years. At the time of publishing this blog, there are no longer any states that ban the use of CBD. However, it is a fast-changing topic in the government and so it’s important to do your own search in real time.

Legal States

The states that are considered legal fully honor any and all changes that were made to the 2018 Farm Bill. Therefore, consumers can legally purchase, possess, and use hemp-based products. These legal states include: 

  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Washington D.C.
  • Vermont
  • Washington State

Conditionally Legal States

States that fall into this category allow their citizens to buy hemp-based products with some strings attached. In states like North Dakota or Minnesota, for example, citizens need a doctor’s approval and a licensed medical card before being able to buy any hemp-based products. Meanwhile, in states like Michigan and Nebraska, CBD is considered both illegal and legal because the legislatures in these states still have yet to hammer out the details surrounding the recent changes to the 2018 Farm Bill. Therefore, consumers can only purchase CBD legally from reputable brands online, and not in any physical locations. In essence, these states are a legal gray area when it comes to buying hemp-derived CBD. Consequently, it’s harder for consumers to find hemp-based CBD products locally in states where it is conditionally legal. Conditionally legal states include: 

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California/Los Angeles
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Is CBD Legal?

A brown glass bottle of CBD oil in front of a hemp plant

We know that cannabis has been a confusing issue in this country for a long time, with different states having their own laws, and with a long history of changing legal statuses.  Up until 2014, hemp was classified as an illegal substance because cannabis as a whole was criminalized decades ago. This meant that whether a person had hemp or marijuana — two varieties of the cannabis plant, they would be subject to legal penalty.

Then in 2014, the United States passed a law legalizing hemp cultivation among farmers throughout the country, as long as the farm was registered with the USDA, and as long as the hemp was grown for research purposes. This allowed hemp farmers to finally grow their crops in a lawful manner.

During this time, a lot of research on CBD and other hemp compounds finally took place.  This allowed us to learn a great deal about the unique potential of cannabinoids, so the popularity of CBD began to grow. At last, in 2018, the United States passed the Farm Bill, which completely decriminalized the hemp plant and all of its derivatives.

According to the Farm Bill, hemp products are legal as long as they are tested to show that they contain no more than 0.3% THC. As previously stated, only about that amount occurs naturally in hemp anyway. The law also stated that all individual isolated cannabinoids, with the exception of THC, are legal.

But as you know, states have the right to create their own laws, which is why some states decided to restrict CBD or certain CBD products, while other states have simply chosen to adhere to federal law. Furthermore, some states allow recreational marijuana use, and therefore place no restrictions on cannabis or THC levels in general.

Also, keep in mind that if you live in a state where medical marijuana is legal, you can legally buy products that have a higher concentration of THC from a licensed dispensary as long as you have a medical marijuana card.

Is CBD Legal in All 50 States?

Let’s take a look at each state’s laws regarding CBD and hemp.

  • Alabama: All hemp products are legal in the state of AL, but must contain a maximum of 0.3% THC.
  • Alaska: In AK, hemp is completely legal, but must contain a maximum of 0.3% THC.
  • Arizona: Hemp is totally legal throughout AZ, but must have no more than 0.3% THC.
  • Arkansas: AR allows hemp to be used freely throughout the state, but products cannot have more than 0.3% THC.
  • California: Because marijuana is legal in CA, hemp products can contain more than 0.3% THC.
  • Colorado: In CO, marijuana is fully legal, so there are no restrictions on cannabis products or THC levels.
  • Connecticut: CT allows cannabidiol to be used throughout the state as long as the products have a maximum of 0.3% THC.
  • Delaware: DE is another state in which hemp is fully legal as long as no more than 0.3% THC is found in a product.
  • Florida: FL residents can legally buy and use CBD that contains no more than 0.3% THC.
  • Georgia: All cannabidiol goods with a maximum of 0.3% THC are legal in GA, except for foods and beverages.
  • Hawaii: CBD products with a maximum of 0.3% THC are legal in the state of HI.
  • Idaho: CBD products are currently illegal in the state of ID.
  • Illinois: IL residents are free to use CBD products without restrictions.
  • Indiana: In IN, cannabidiol is legal but must have a maximum of 0.3% THC.
  • Iowa: IA allows hemp goods to be sold if they have no more than 0.3% THC and are not inhaled, which makes vapes and flowers illegal.
  • Kansas: The state law says that CBD products must be completely free of THC in order to be legal.
  • Kentucky: KY allows all hemp products that have a maximum of 0.3% THC, except for flower.
  • Louisiana: This state allows hemp to be used freely as long as it has 0.3% THC at most.
  • Maine: CBD goods containing no more than 0.3% THC are legal in the state of ME.
  • Maryland: In MD, CBD and hemp are legal but must have no more than 0.3% THC.
  • Massachusetts: Hemp is legal in MA but must contain 0.3% THC or less.  Foods, beverages, and supplements containing CBD are not legal.
  • Michigan: MI is another state that has banned foods and beverages containing CBD but allows all other hemp products with a 0.3% or less THC level.
  • Minnesota: In MN, cannabidiol products must contain a max of 0.3% THC and cannot come in the forms of foods and beverages.
  • Mississippi: MS allows hemp products that have 0.3% THC at most.
  • Missouri: MO allows hemp to be used, but it must contain no more than 0.3% THC.
  • Montana: MT has banned CBD foods and drinks but allows other products that have a maximum of 0.3% THC.
  • Nebraska: State law says that all hemp products are illegal.
  • Nevada: There are no restrictions on hemp in NV, as cannabis is fully legalized.
  • New Hampshire: NH requires that all cannabidiol products contain no more than 0.3% THC. Also, food and drinks containing cannabis are not allowed.
  • New Jersey: NJ is yet another state in which CBD is legal as long as it has no more than 0.3% THC.
  • New Mexico: Hemp is fine in NM as long as it has 0.3% at most.
  • New York: NY allows CBD products to be sold if they contain 0.3% THC at most. Foods and drinks containing cannabis are forbidden.
  • North Carolina: NC allows hemp to be sold legally as long as it has no more than 0.3% THC.
  • North Dakota: Hemp products with a maximum level of 0.3% THC are legal in ND.
  • Ohio: OH permits the sales of hemp products as long as they have no more than 0.3% THC.
  • Oklahoma: Hemp is legal in OK but must contain 0.3% THC at most.
  • Oregon: OR permits the use of cannabidiol and hemp that contains 0.3% THC max.
  • Pennsylvania: PA allows for hemp that has no more than 0.3% THC.
  • Rhode Island Hemp is legal throughout RI, as long as the product has a maximum of 0.3% THC.
  • South Carolina: Hemp products with a maximum of 0.3% are legal in SC except for flower and vaping goods.
  • South Dakota: Hemp is technically illegal here.
  • Tennessee: In TN, CBD products are legal if they have at most 0.3% THC.
  • Texas: Hemp is legal throughout the state of Texas but must contain a max of 0.3% THC.
  • Utah: Hemp goods with no more than 0.3% THC are permitted in this state except for foods, beverages, and smokable products.
  • Vermont: Hemp is legal in VT but must adhere to the 0.3% max THC rule.
  • Virginia: VA allows hemp to be sold freely, but the products cannot contain more than 0.3% THC.
  • Washington: Hemp products, except for food and beverages, are legal in WA as long as they have a maximum of 0.3% THC.
  • West Virginia: Hemp is legal throughout WV but must have no more than 0.3% THC.
  • Wisconsin: Cannabidiol is only legal in WI if you have approval from your doctor.
  • Wyoming: CBD is legal in WY but must contain no more than 0.3% THC.

Related Article: Is CBD Oil Legal in All 50 States?

How Can You Make Sure That You’re Using Cannabidiol Legally?

On top of checking the above list to make sure that your state has legalized cannabidiol, there are some further steps you can take to ensure that you are using hemp legally. CBD is a relatively new market, and it’s not quite regulated yet, which means that there is always a small risk of unintentionally ending up with an illegal product. Adding to that, cannabidiol laws are subject to change both on a state and local level, so you need to be extra careful. In order to legally buy CBD while avoiding fake or poor quality products, you should consider doing the following: 

#1: Know Your Source

A woman in a red tank top sits in front of a laptop and holds a bottle of CBD oil

Only buy your cannabidiol from a trusted source, such as a reputable hemp distribution company, or directly from a known manufacturer. We do not recommend ever buying CBD from a convenience store or gas station, as the managers of these stores are less likely to research a product before putting it on their shelves or could be unsure of how to maintain high standards of quality when it comes to the cannabidiol that they sell. We also don’t recommend buying hemp goods from Amazon, as you will most likely be buying a hemp seed oil product that doesn’t contain any CBD at all. Moreover, when buying CBD, you may also want to purchase it from a reputable brand online instead of at a physical location. In going with a well-known online brand, you can take the time to research the brand, its products, and anything else that you want to know. You won’t be afforded the time to do this when shopping for CBD at a brick and mortar location

#2: Look at Lab Reports

Any legitimate company has all of its hemp tested by a third-party lab. This is the way in which the industry regulates itself and maintains high standards for production. These lab reports will give you an unbiased breakdown of the chemical compounds in the formula and will allow you to clearly see how much THC was shown to be found in the hemp extract used. Lab reports thoroughly detail both the potency and the purity of a product, so consumers will know exactly what’s in a product before they buy it. 

#3: Research a Company

Always research a company before buying from them to make sure that they manufacture cannabidiol products in a safe and legal manner. This is one of the reasons why we suggest shopping for CBD from a reputable brand online over purchasing products from a physical CBD store. 

#4: Check Your Local Laws Regularly

It’s important to be aware of the laws relating to hemp in your area. Check with state laws, county laws, and town laws, as legislators can choose to change the law regarding hemp at any given time. Some states enforce hemp laws more than others, but you should still be careful that you don’t end up at risk of legal penalty.

Now You Know

A collection of FAB CBD products is arranged artistically on a neutral background

In almost every state, using cannabidiol is completely legal, which is good news for the majority of Americans who want to start using CBD to see what it can do for them. Still, it’s always important to check with your local government to see what the law currently says, and to make sure that you research both the brand and its products before buying it to ensure that it does indeed come from hemp rather than marijuana and contains no more than 0.3% THC. A great rule of thumb is to not be in a rush to buy CBD. Rather, take all the time you need to research brands, products, and CBD in general so that you can go into the buying experience as an educated and well-versed consumer. 

Even though CBD is available in all 50 states, it is only to some varying degrees. While some people can easily find CBD products in stores legally, others may have a hard time finding products in states where people need medical cards to purchase them. Your best bet to easily find top-quality CBD is to shop for it online from a well-known and reputable brand and then have your order sent to your home or office. In the future, laws will always change and evolve in both state and federal government when it comes to CBD, therefore, it’s best to keep abreast of any and all changes that could impact how you buy, use, or sell CBD products.