A print of palm trees over colorful streaks, upon which is written "California"

CBD Oil in California: Is it Legal & Where to Buy

In thinking about California, there’s a good chance that most people know that it’s one of the most forward-moving states when it comes to cannabis legislation. The good news is that if you reside in California, you’ll have a wealth of options to choose from for buying CBD in stores and online. 

CBD in California: Things You Should Know

California is one of the most progressive states when it comes to CBD and marijuana. It is easy to find CBD in many types of stores and it's pretty widely available whether you're in a major urban center or further out. Having said that, it's good to learn what you can about some of the specific legal restrictions and tips on things to look for when buying CBD oil in California. 

Is CBD Legal in California?

A scientist stands in a sunny field of hemp

CBD, or cannabidiol, is extracted from either the hemp or the marijuana varieties of the cannabis plant. Thanks to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp-derived CBD products are legal to buy and sell across the United States as long as it contains 0.3% or less THC. Prior to the passing of the Farm Bill, the government saw hemp as a Schedule I drug that was in the same class as LSD and heroin. In California, all hemp-based CBD oils are legal, however it’s a different story when it comes to products derived from marijuana.

Is Marijuana Legal in California?

In the state of California, recreational and medicinal marijuana use is legal. In California, if you are 21 years old and up and can provide a valid form of identification, then you can legally purchase marijuana-based products. However, if you’re wanting to buy marijuana buds, then legally you cannot possess more than an ounce. Unlike other states, California has been a leader in reviewing and changing marijuana laws. For example, in 1972, the state became the first to introduce Proposition 19, a bill that legalized the use of marijuana. The bill subsequently failed, but this showed that legislators were moving in the right direction. 

Next, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana was decriminalized in 1975, which meant that it was only a civil offense and not a criminal offense to have over that amount. Then in 1996, voters passed Proposition 215, an act that gave California the distinction of being the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana. Under this law, anyone diagnosed with a specific chronic illness could obtain a doctor’s recommendation and be able to purchase medicinal marijuana. Subsequently, not long after Proposition 215 was passed, legislators passed Senate Bill 420, which brought about an identification card system for the state’s new medicinal marijuana program. This same piece of legislation made allowances for non-profits to hand out medical marijuana to patients with a valid identification card. 

Interestingly, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger passed Senate Bill 1449, which lowered the possession punishment of under an ounce of marijuana to a small fine of $100 with no mandatory date in court. Lastly, voters passed Proposition 64 in 2016. This bill legalized marijuana use for everyone over the age of 21. The law, which took effect in 2018, gave the state the additional distinction of being the sixth state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. 

Where to Buy CBD Oil in California?

A woman opens a box of Mint CBD Oil and pulls out the bottle

While there are lots of brick and mortar locations to buy CBD oil from in California, at the end of the day, you’ll save a ton of frustration, time, and money by shopping online for CBD products from trusted and respected brands. Sadly, along with the huge growth in popularity of CBD, a lot of less reputable brands have also been cropping up. And if you aren’t savvy about what to look for in a brand or a product, then you might end up falling prey to their slick advertising and subpar products that are laden with dangerous heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, solvents, and other harmful chemicals. 

    Buying CBD Oil Online in California

    Even though it’s very easy to hop in your car and drive down to the nearest CBD store, you’ll have better success shopping for your CBD oil online. Not only can you take as much time as you need to shop brands and products, but you’ll also be able to research any aspect about CBD that you want. When shopping in a store, you’re restricted by store hours and what employees may or may not know about different brands, products, and CBD in general. Additionally, you’ll save more money by shopping for CBD Oil online. Trusted brands often offer customers discount programs, coupon codes, or subscription clubs as a way to save some money on their favorite products. You may not be able to take advantage of these types of things when visiting a brick and mortar location. Additionally, when exploring brands online, you’ll be able to read third-party lab reports, verified customer reviews, and articles by respected CBD journalists and experts. 

    Buying CBD Oil Locally in California

    The good news is that there’s no shortage of dispensaries in California. So, if you’re looking to buy marijuana-derived products, then you’ll be in luck. Even though the state has a lot of dispensaries, it can still be difficult trying to find a clean and potent source of CBD. Sadly, there’s an overabundance of products sold online and in stores that have little to no CBD in them even though they’re advertised as quite the opposite. So, before you spend any of your hard-earned money on fake or low-quality products, you should do some research to confirm the quality of the product you’re interested in. In other words, make sure the product has everything in it that the label says it does. If you begin by following the simple list that we’ve provided above, then you’ll be off to a great start when it comes to avoiding low quality products made by subpar brands

    CBD Oil in California: Online Shops vs Local Stores

    CBD products can come in a host of options that include oils, creams, salves, soft gels, gummies, and even pet treats. So you see them popping up in regular food stores or department stores and pharmacies more often. In California there are plenty of CBD stores to visit in person, and it's easy to buy online, so it's up to personal preference. But remember that it pays to be sure you're checking out any product thoroughly before you purchase it. When looking for a top-quality product — whether online or in a store — you should: 

    • Steer clear of brands that make wild, outlandish claims about their products that seem too good to be true.
    • Look for and read all third-party lab reports. All reputable brands care about being transparent with their customers. To that end, they use independent labs to test their products for purity and potency. They will then publish those reports on their websites so that customers can easily find them. Stay away from brands that either don’t test their products at all or that hide test results from consumers. 
    • Be mindful of the extraction process that a brand uses. Today, the CO2 extraction process is the industry standard for obtaining pure and potent extracts. This process also keeps the best compounds of the hemp plant intact. Other methods can leave harmful solvents and other chemicals in the final product. Respected brands, like FAB CBD, use the industry preferred CO2 extraction process to ensure that all of their extracts are clean and effective
    • Know where the brand sources its hemp. Hemp that comes from overseas is not held to the same standards as hemp that’s grown inside the United States. Therefore, you should go with a reputable brand that sources its hemp from places like Colorado, Kentucky, Oregon, and other places in the US. The United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, has a strict set of standards that hemp farmers must follow. So, in order for hemp in the United States to be labeled as organic, these farms must follow all of these standards to the letter.

    What to Look for When Buying CBD Oil in California

    CBD bottles and boxes in various flavors and potencies

    When shopping for CBD, you’ll come across three different varieties: full-spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate. While they are the same in the ways that they all contain high levels of CBD, they are different in their cannabinoid, terpene, and phytonutrient contents. For example, CBD isolate contains 99% pure CBD, as all of the other components have been carefully filtered out using a special process. Full-spectrum and broad spectrum CBD oils contain cannabinoids, terpenes, minerals, vitamins, and other phytonutrients. However, all of the 0.3% THC has been filtered out of broad spectrum products. 

    Out of the three different varieties, it’s recommended that you buy full-spectrum types of products because the small amount of THC in them helps to bring about and amplify the entourage effect. In this phenomenon, the cannabinoids and terpenes in full-spectrum (and broad spectrum) products work synergistically with each other to dampen negative effects and heighten positive ones. Full-spectrum products may bring about more of an entourage effect than broad spectrum products simply because there’s THC in them, which means that there are more cannabinoids to work with one another.  

    Summary on Legality and Buying CBD Oil in California

    A young woman and man sit together on a white couch smiling and laughing

    Both hemp- and marijuana-based CBD products are legal in California. Those who reside in the state can purchase hemp-derived CBD oil without a medical card or doctor’s note. However, if you are buying CBD oil made from hemp in the state, then you’ll need to do some research to confirm that it has 0.3% or less THC. When it comes to marijuana-based products, both recreational and medicinal marijuana are legal for residents who are over the age of 21. You’ll either need a valid form of identification or a medical card if you’re seeking to buy either medicinal or recreational marijuana. All information should be checked in real time in case there are recent legal changes. Regardless of which type of CBD oil you’re buying — either hemp-based or marijuana-based — you should spend some quality time researching both the product and the brand. Look at all third-party lab reports, know where the brand sourced its hemp from, beware of claims that seem too good to be true, read verified customer reviews. In other words, do your due diligence to ensure that you’re buying high-quality products from a trusted and respected brand.