Is CBD legal?

Is CBD Legal Everywhere? Check Here to Find Out

One fine day, you hear about CBD and its miraculous benefits, and suddenly you see it everywhere. This remarkable substance has gone mainstream, and you can even find it in gas stations. Whoop-de-doo!

But you heard it comes from cannabis, so now you’re wondering, “Is CBD legal or just a new code name for marijuana?”

Well, the short answer is that buying CBD is federally legal in the 50 states of the union, but herein lies the catch—not always. The truth of the matter is that the legal status of this compound is quite fuzzy.

So, if you want the long answer, follow me for a walk-through of everything that revolves around the legality of this constituent of the cannabis family.

Table of Contents

The 2018 Farm Bill

On December 20th of 2018, an $867 billion Farm Bill was signed into law by President Donald Trump. While this bill essentially expanded farm subsidies and provided permanent funding for farmers’ markets and local food programs, it also put an end to hemp prohibition—something that had been the bitter state of affairs for 81 years!

In 2014, a Farm Bill had allowed programs for the research of hemp with limited legal protections. This decision gave way for authorized states to transform state regulations that halted hemp and hemp-derived products.

The 2018 bill is a reloaded version of the 2014’s one, here’s a quick brief on what it stands for in terms of hemp:

  • Any cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC is considered hemp and has been removed from the prohibited list of the Controlled Substances Act.

  • The interstate commerce for hemp-derived CBD is now allowed.

  • Hemp production—including cannabinoid extraction and flower production—for any use is allowed in all the 50 states.

  • The US Department of Agriculture will now treat hemp like every other agricultural commodity they have been dealing with.

The 2018 Farm Bill has also given the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) the authority to regulate all products that comprise hemp and its derivatives.

How all of this works is quite simple. The USDA regulates the growth of the plant. The FDA polices the diverse range of products derived from hemp.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) conducts testing of the THC content of hemp crops.

Now, hemp-derived products are federally legal to manufacture, sell and purchase. However, individual states reserve the right to refuse sales of any particular products.

This means that although CBD has been de-scheduled as a controlled substance, there are still some states that have put their own restrictions on it, because of the lack of federal guidelines and ambiguous rules cited by the FDA.

It’s safe to say that the CBD and hemp industry is “legal-ish,” and this isn’t changing until more guidelines and regulations are put into place by the agency to ensure the quality of hemp-derived products.

Hemp vs. Marijuana

Hemp and Marijuana are varieties of the same family of plants—the Cannabis sativa L.—a complex plant that produces hundreds of compounds, each one of them, with different potential medical value.

Understanding the difference between these two varieties can be as simple as moving past from how similar both plants look like and having a closer look at their individual chemical profiles.

Both hemp and marijuana produce CBD and THC, which are “sister molecules” that belong to a class known as cannabinoids. In fact, these plants produce more than 100 cannabinoids.

CBD stands for cannabidiol and THC for tetrahydrocannabinol. Both compounds have medical value, but THC has a drawback, it’s the intoxicating compound responsible for the high you feel when smoking marijuana.

That’s why marijuana remains illegal, because it has high amounts of the chemical that alters your mind.

All cannabis varieties produce THC to protect themselves from pest and mold. When it comes to hemp, the THCA synthase—the enzyme responsible for THC production—is genetically dormant. This automatically means that hemp plants can produce handsome amounts of CBD with little levels of THC.


Growing hemp for CBD isn’t the same thing as growing it for industrial purposes. Breeding hemp for CBD isn’t an exact science, and levels of THC aren’t always “legal-ish.”

Let’s find out how.

The Growing Pains of Hemp for CBD

Colonial hemp

Humans have cultivated hemp over thousands of years. Founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew it for fiber and seed production.

However, growing hemp to extract CBD requires a different and more careful approach than classic hemp. Modern hemp most likely requires the same care as marijuana breeding.

The crop that American farmers are growing nowadays to get CBD is a new hybrid form of hemp grown not for fiber, or seed, but to have higher levels of CBD and minute traces of THC.

Since you’re asking, “Is CBD legal?”, then you should know how easy it is for hemp growers to end up breeding marijuana inadvertently.

Cannabis is related to humans not only because our bodies make their own natural cannabis-like compounds called endocannabinoids, but also because it has two sexes: male and female.

Male plants are used for industrial products such as textiles, fuel, and bio-plastics.

Female plants are beloved because of their cannabinoid content. Hemp females make most of their cannabinoids in their flowers, also known as “buds.”

When female flowers aren’t pollinated, they produce more of the gooey cannabinoid resin, in a desperate act to attract male pollen. This magnifies the levels of either, CBD or THC. Most new U.S. hemp farmers are looking to satisfy the skyrocketing demand for CBD, so they favor the grow of females for maximum cannabinoid production.

Male flowers, on the other hand, produce large amounts of pollen that are transported by air to pollinate the feminine flowers. The natural pollination process can wake up the dormant THC genes and increase the very concentrations of the molecule that farmers wish to keep low. A good reason to get rid of any male as soon as it appears.

Pollen can be controlled when hemp is grown in a greenhouse. But if a farmer has an outdoor hemp field, then there’s a chance that pollen will hook up with the ladies and give birth to the “wrong sister.” We know this as “cross-pollination.”

Cross-pollination can occur with pollen from wild hemp or illicit marijuana fields where male plants aren’t controlled, and their pollen can be easily spread by the wind. That’s how a legal and certified hemp crop can become a “hot crop.”

By law, hot crops have more than 0.3% THC when they’re tested by the DEA and must be destroyed. But this doesn’t keep hot hemp out of the market. THC levels can also increase after a crop is tested.

Hot hemp being destroyed

What all of this really means? Well, Your CBD could have higher amounts of THC—aka illegal CBD—if it’s sourced from hot hemp. That’s why is important to check the third party lab report of every product you get.

In this report, also known as “Certificate of Analysis” (COA), you can find the cannabinoids profile of the CBD you’re purchasing.


The Extraction Process Can Make Your CBD Illegal

While there are various methods of extracting CBD from hemp, each method results in different concentrations of each cannabinoid.

CBD products can be classified in three categories:


These products contain all the compounds present in hemp, including THC.


Same as full-spectrum but without THC


Contain CBD solely

To get broad-spectrum CBD, the concentrated traces of THC are removed from the extract through a process called “liquid chromatography.” This process removes THC at low temperatures, while ALL other natural compounds such as fatty acids and terpenes and other cannabinoids stay intact.

Full-spectrum CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t go through this method—then you will find traces of THC along with CBD in the extract.

Poor extraction methods can leave you with a product that has illegal amounts of THC and that’s also contaminated with chemical solvents.



Why Are Most CBD Products Out There Illegal?

Remember the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp? Well, because of it, many vendors have the perception that there’s a green light to market CBD as a health and wellness supplement.

The FDA holds authority to regulate the CBD fast-growing market and ensure the safety and quality of the hemp-derived products.

CBD has been already approved as the active ingredient in Epidiolex—a drug to treat epilepsy. Drugs are NOT allowed in supplements, food, or beverages, because they fall under a different set of regulations.

What the agency says is that CBD in dietary supplements and foods is a no-go. The products you find on the market are NOT officially approved by the FDA. However the majority of the CBD companies still sell them.

The agency has issued warning letters to companies that are currently selling products that explicity make health claims. But has not told them to stop creating CBD infused food and drinks.

The FDA recently expressed concerns about the science, safety, and quality of products containing CBD. “The FDA has seen only limited data about CBD safety, and these data point to real risks that need to be considered before taking CBD for any reason,” the agency stated.

This completely contradicts the World Health Organization (WHO) claims that no risk has been associated with the use of CBD.


The FDA concerns about CBD—issued in a customer’s update on November 2019—are coming from its work on Epidiolex, the only CBD product that has passed the FDA’s regulations and approval process. This drug treats seizures in children with a highly concentrated form of CBD isolate.

The products you find on the market are different. They contain significantly lower levels of CBD and are usually mixed with other compounds from the hemp plant. All these compounds together impact the body in different ways than a highly concentrated and purified CBD isolate.

The truth of the matter is that, to date, there’s no conclusive data turning down or supporting the safety of this compound.

All CBD products are subject to the same laws and requirements as any other new drug. However, fly-by-night vendors are breaking these laws because the FDA can’t police every label.

Is there fake CBD on the market? You bet! Snake oils are roaming free in the Wild West that has fostered the green rush. But there are also reliable brands that treasure their customers with high-quality products, and you will find them with a little research.



Heads up: This article is NOT intended to provide legal advice, use it for informational purposes only. Always consult with a legal expert if you’re in doubt.

CBD is federally legal in the 50 states of the union. However the hemp industry is lacking clear guidelines and regulations from the federal agencies. That’s why many individual states are putting restrictions on farmers, sellers and buyers.

When purchasing CBD products you have two options, buying over the counter products at dispensaries, health and wellness stores and head stores—or ordering online.

Ordering online is the easiest way to get your CBD, since there’s no legislation preventing people to get hemp products through the web. Buying online is convenient and also safe, because before purchasing you can easily:

  • Check updated third-party reports
  • Research the brand and read reviews
  • Reach out customer service

However, proceeding with extreme caution is a must if you live in a no-CBD-friendly state. There’s still a chance that local authorities will treat you like a criminal if they catch you buying, selling, or simply possessing any quantity of CBD product.

It’s worth noting that hemp-derived CBD refers to any products that have no more than 0.3% THC content. Marijuana-derived are products with higher levels of THC.

marijuana-based CBD map

In some states, CBD is only legal as part of a medical marijuana (MM) program, which usually requires a doctor’s approval and an official MM card. This card is only valid in the state where you register it.

Other states have strict rules for THC, and only CBD products with zero THC in their content are allowed.

A few states only allow products with the FDA approval, while others—where CBD is legal—don’t allow it as an additive in food and beverages.

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Without further ado, let’s explore the legislation for hemp-derived and marijuana-derived CBD in each state.

CBD Laws State by State


    Hemp-derived CBD is now legal in Alabama. Since June 2019 Pharmacies can sell CBD containing less than 0.3% THC. But medical marijuana remains illegal.


    Alaska is a green state, meaning that cannabis is legal for medical and recreational use. CBD derived from hemp is widely available as a health supplement across the state. You can also get CBD products online through reputable sellers. The Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Unit is encouraging Alaskans to be cautious when purchasing CBD products.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal. CBD from marijuana is allowed to purchase for patients with registered medical marijuana cards.


    Arkansas was one of the first states to legalize Hemp-based CBD. The Natural State has a medicinal marijuana program where patients may register with the recommendation of a licensed physician.


    In the Golden State cannabis is legal for medical and recreational use. But the legality of CBD is confusing. Hemp-derived CBD is legal but prohibited as an additive to human or animal food and beverages. On the other hand, CBD derived from marijuana is subject to marijuana laws so it can be legally sold in food and drinks at dispensaries.


    The Centennial State was the first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in 2012. Hemp-derived CBD is legal but rules for food and drinks are unclear.


    All forms of hemp-derived CBD are legal, but only qualified patients can legally purchase marijuana-based CBD.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal. Under Rylie’s Law, CBD from marijuana is allowed to purchase at dispensaries within the state for patients with registered medical marijuana cards.


    Hemp-based CBD is legal for everyone, but only qualified patients can legally purchase marijuana-based CBD.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal. Marijuana-derived CBD products are legal for registered patients as long as they don’t contain more than 5% THC.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal under the FDA’s standards. Meaning it’s illegal to add CBD to food, beverages and cosmetics, shouldn’t be advertised as a supplement and no health claims are accepted.

The Aloha State runs two distinct but related medical cannabis programs: The registry program that allows patients with certain health conditions to legally purchase medical marijuana.

And the dispensary program that monitors how dispensaries grow, manufacture, and sell the products to qualified patients.


    The Gem State has a strict policy against marijuana and its intoxicating component THC. Therefore, CBD is only legal if it contains zero traces of THC and is derived from one of the five identified parts of the hemp plant:

  • Mature stalks
  • Any combination of the mature stalks
  • Fiber produced from the stalks
  • Sterilized seeds incapable of germination
  • Oil or cake made from the seed

Be cautious when buying CBD in Idaho because if you get caught with just the smallest trace of THC in your product, you will be facing charges.


    The Land of Lincoln became a green state at the end of May 2019, the use of recreational marijuana will be legal in 2020. Hemp-derived CBD is allowed in all its forms.


    CBD is legal as long as it doesn't contain more than 0.3 percent THC. Products must have a QR code on the label that link to the companies and ingredients that make the final product. CBD from marijuana is illegal.

  • IOWA

    Iowa allows limited amounts of CBD oil products for those patients with state-issued registration cards. To get one you have to be a patient with a medical condition like cancer, AIDS, seizures or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).


    CBD products are exempted from the criminal codes that revolve around marijuana as long as there’s no more than 0.3% THC in them.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal. Marijuana-derived CBD is legal only for patients in clinical trials.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal, but hemp and CBD are prohibited in food, drinks alcohol and any smokable substance. All CBD products must be labeled in accordance with Louisiana’s Food, Drug and Cosmetic Law. Marijuana-derived CBD is legal for patients carrying a medical marijuana card.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal. Medical cannabis usage is allowed in the state of Maryland with a qualified card. Recreational use of marijuana is illegal.


    As a green state Maine allows adults 21 and over to legally purchase CBD. It’s also allowed as a food additive but only if it’s sourced from locally grown hemp.


    All forms of CBD are legal in the Bay State. CBD from marijuana is legal for patients with a registered card.


    The state of the Great Lakes legalized both medicinal and recreational use of marijuana as long as you meet the minimum age requirement. Hemp-derived CBD is legal in all its forms.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal. Medical cannabis usage is allowed with a qualified card.


    Only with a physician’s recommendation letter patients with severe epilepsy are allowed to possess CBD products.


    Hemp-derived CBD is allowed to purchase only for 18+ patients or licensed caregivers. Purchases are restricted to “cannabidiol oil care centers” that are state-licensed dispensaries.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal for everyone. CBD from marijuana is allowed for patients with specific conditions.


    Hemp and marijuana are considered “dangerous drugs” by the governor of Nebraska and they’re prohibited. Only CBD products with the FDA approval are allowed. Currently only Epidiolex a drug to treat seizures has the approval.


    CBD is fully legal for adults 21 and over in the Silver State. For minors with specific conditions is legal with a qualifying MM card.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal. For patients with registered medical marijuana cards CBD from marijuana is allowed.


    CBD extracted from hemp and containing less than 0.3% THC is legal to possess. Medical marijuana is allowed for patients with a registered MM card.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal. Marijuana-derived CBD is allowed for patients registered with a medical card. Dispensaries can sell only locally grown marijuana products.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal but selling CBD infused in food or drinks is prohibited. The Empire State has a medical marijuana (MM) program, thus, CBD derived from marijuana is legal only for registered patients with a MM card.


    The legal state of CBD in this state is quite confusing. The state’s laws say that products are legal if they contain 5% CBD and up to 0.9% THC, but only for children with epilepsy.


    CBD extracted from hemp and containing less than 0.3% THC is legal to possess. Medical marijuana is allowed to treat certain conditions, patients have to be certified by a qualified health provider.

  • OHIO

    CBD is officially legal since July 2019 if it’s derived from hemp and contains less than 0.3% THC. Marijuana-derived CBD is legal for patients with qualified cards.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal. For patients with registered cards marijuana-derived CBD is allowed.


    The Beaver State is a green state too. Here marijuana is allowed for all its uses and hemp-derived CBD is legal in all forms, except for alcoholic beverages. Despite being known for its craft beer, as of January 1, Oregon is keeping alcohol apart from CBD and THC.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal. For patients with registered medical marijuana cards CBD with more than 0.3% THC is allowed.


    CBD extracted from hemp and containing less than 0.3% THC is legal to possess. Medical marijuana is allowed for patients with a registered MM card.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal but medical marijuana is not allowed.


    Here all cannabis plants are illegal and only CBD products with the FDA approval are allowed. Currently only Epidiolex a drug to treat seizures has the approval.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal. However, only with a doctor’s order, patients with severe epilepsy are allowed to possess CBD from marijuana.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal since June 2019. However, the Lone Star State only allows access to marijuana-based CBD products with maximum 0.5% THC in their content.

  • UTAH

    As long as it contains no more than 0.3% THC, hemp-derived CBD is allowed for everyone in the Beehive State. Patients can register and get a medical card to purchase marijuana-derived CBD.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal. Patients with certain conditions can register for medical cards to purchase CBD from marijuana.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal. Marijuana-derived CBD is legal only for patients with medical cards.


    The Evergreen State legalized the medical and recreational use of cannabis back in 2012. But following the FDA rule, hemp-derived CBD is prohibited as an additive to human or animal food and drinks. CBD derived from marijuana can be legally sold in food and beverages at dispensaries.


    Hemp-derived CBD is legal for everyone. Marijuana-derived CBD is legal for patients with qualified cards.


    In the Badger State CBD is only legal for patients with a doctor’s written prescription but they’re NOT allowed to possess CBD with intoxicating THC levels.


    The Equality State has no equal legislations for hemp and marijuana. Here CBD products that contain less than 0.3% THC by weight are legal to use and possess. Medical marijuana, on the other hand, remains illegal.

Members of the U.S. Military, the Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Marines have been warned that despite changes to state and federal laws, the use of CBD is completely forbidden.

Hooray for Arizona that allows cops to use CBD!

Legal Status of CBD Around the World

Several countries around the globe are embracing hemp-based CBD and its health benefits.

In the European Union, CBD laws can differ from country to country, but most of them allow the consumption of products containing no more than 0.2% THC. The exception to the rule are Croatia and Slovenia, where the compound is treated equally as marijuana and carries a ban.

In Denmark, Finland, and Norway, it is only legal to use and possess CBD if it’s prescribed by a doctor.

Many countries in Asia have some of the strictest laws for cannabis in the World. Surprisingly, CBD is legal in Japan and Thailand as long as it has no THC.

In Australia and New Zealand, you still can’t use or import CBD legally without a prescription.

In Latin America—a region that has utterly suffered the stigma and havocs of the war on drugs—countries like Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay, and Peru, have legalized the medical use of cannabis, and CBD is allowed with the standard 2% THC. In Brazil, a prescription is needed to get CBD, but this is expected to change soon.

Uruguay is the first country in the world that legalized cannabis for both medical and recreational use in 2017, followed by Canada in 2018.

Summing Up

As you can see, the legal status of CBD is a grey zone. The substance is federally legal, but the products, NOT so much.

Only one CBD product has been approved by the FDA, and it’s a drug to treat seizures in children. The agency don’t want products being advertised as supplements or making health claims.

In such a dynamic and unregulated market, laws are constantly changing. What is law today may completely change tomorrow. I’ll do my best to keep you updated, so it’s recommended to always check back here at CBDety. But you still should do your homework and check with the local laws where you live.

Buying online is the easier way to get your CBD, because it has almost no restrictions, and you can do a little research on the brand before purchasing.

My answer to your question, “Is CBD legal?” is… “It’s Iegal-ish—but worth a try.”