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Is CBD Legal? Discover All You Need to Know About CBD’s History

Is CBD Legal? Discover All You Need to Know About CBD’s History

Is CBD Legal?

Is CBD legal? The overwhelming use of CBD around the world and various types of laws in many states and countries has made this question significant. That’s a question that many people have been asking. Lately, there has been a lot of discussion about CBD. Many people want to try it, but they’re concerned about the legality of CBD. So, what do federal and state laws have to say about CBD? Keep reading to find out.  

A Brief Overview of CBD

People have been using CBD for medical purposes for over 5,000 years. Ancient Chinese writings discuss the growing and use of the Cannabis sativa plant. Cannabinoid (CBD) is only one of over 113 compounds found in the plant. This article will show the audience that is CBD legal in all states?   

In modern times, chemist Roger Adams was able to isolate and extract CBD from the cannabis plant. At the same time, he also discovered the compound Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Over twenty years later, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam made a major medical breakthrough with his scientific studies into the chemical structure of CBD. His studies continued well into the 1980s, when Dr. Mechoulam researched the potential of using CBD to treat epilepsy. However, studies on the use of CBD to treat various medical conditions were slow because of the stigma surrounding any research of the cannabis plants because of their close relationship with marijuana, particularly in the United States.  

That is all beginning to change with stories of how CBD has helped people suffering from various medical conditions, such as cancer, epilepsy, and seizures. Charlotte Figi is one of those stories of the miraculous benefits of CBD. Charlotte was only a toddler and was suffering hundreds of seizures a week from Dravet Syndrome, a chronic form of epilepsy. Her condition was so severe that she had lost many of her abilities, such as walking, talking, and eating, by the time she was four.  

Charlotte’s mother was desperate and had heard about another case where CBD had helped with the frequency of seizures. After doing a lot of research, she thought she would give it a try, even though she was hesitant. However, after giving Charlotte just a few drops of CBD oil, her seizures stopped. Soon, Charlotte was experiencing only a few episodes a week instead of hundreds. Because of stories like the Charlottes, scientists are conducting more research and discovering more ways that CBD can benefit people with chronic medical conditions.  But, there is still a long way to go with both regulation and education. This article will help anyone confused about the legality of CBD on federal, state, and local levels.

The History of CBD Legalization in the U.S.

Here is a timeline of how CBD has gradually become legal in the United States:

Colonial America

During the early days of the American colonies, not only was hemp legal, colonists were encouraged to grow it due to its various uses in textiles and medicines.

The early 1900s

Due to racism and politics, cannabis became illegal in 29 states. In addition to industrial and medicinal uses, people had started using cannabis for recreational purposes. Opponents feared it because of its intoxicating effects.

1937 and the Marijuana Tax Act

With the Marijuana Tax Act, all uses of cannabis except industrial and medicinal marijuana were deemed illegal. And there was heavy taxation on cannabis.

1970 and the Controlled Substance Act

President Richard Nixon repealed the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. However, the 1970 rule saw cannabis as a “gateway drug” and listed it as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, which meant that it was seen as having a considerable possibility of addiction but offered no therapeutic benefits.

1978 and the Controlled Substance Therapeutic Research Act

In 1978, New Mexico passed a law that would allow for the research of cannabis for medical purposes. However, the rest of the United States continued to repress all efforts to study cannabis.

1996 and the Compassionate Use Act

California passed the Compassionate Use Act and legalized cannabis to treat people who had chronic and severe illnesses. In the next few years, several more states would legalize cannabis for the same reason.

2014 Farm Bill 

This Agricultural Act made the distinction between hemp and marijuana. It also allowed states to begin industrial hemp cultivation pilot programs.

2018 Farm Bill  

Legalized hemp cultivation and removed some cannabis from Schedule 1 classification. The Act defines hemp as having less than 0.3% THC. However, it still considers CBD that comes from the marijuana plant as illegal since it contains more than 0.3% THC.

Is CBD Legal in ALL 50 U.S. States?

When it comes to whether CBD is legal in all 50 states, the answer isn’t precisely cut and dry. There are a lot of factors to consider, such as the amount of THC in the product.

For example, some states allow the cultivation of hemp for non-medicinal purposes. In California, marijuana cultivation is legal for medical research. Further, the 2018 Farm Bill allows each state to prohibit growing hemp. 

Also, the FDA regulates CBD’s labeling and claims. Marketing CBD as a dietary supplement isn’t allowed, nor can it be added to any food products.

Recently, the introduction of H.R 841 aims at allowing CBD to be considered a dietary supplement. Having regulations and a set standard will help ensure that CBD manufacturers produce a product that meets quality markers.


What Does Federal Law Say About CBD?

According to the United States Government, not all CBD is equal. While several states have legalized marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes, it’s still considered illegal at the federal level, including CBD products from marijuana.

To understand CBD federal law, a person must know the distinction between different cannabis plants. Both hemp and marijuana are part of the cannabis family. However, hemp has low concentrations of THC. For a cannabis plant to be considered hemp, it has to have a THC level of 0.3% or lower. 

Marijuana has THC levels higher than 0.3%. THC is the cannabinoid in marijuana that gives users a euphoric feeling.

One significant outcome of the 2018 Farm Act was removing hemp as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance. Before that, hemp was considered as having no medicinal value and a high potential for abuse.

However, the legalization of CBD comes with a caveat. The hemp to be legal has to be sourced from a licensed grower that grows and cultivates hemp under federal and state guidelines.

What Do State Laws Say About CBD?

State laws vary across the United States. Except for Idaho, hemp-sourced CBD is legal as long as its THC level is under 0.3%. Idaho state law states that only CBD products with 0% THC can be considered legal.

Once you move into marijuana sourced CBD, the laws become murkier, especially when determining if CBD is for medical or recreational use. Here is a breakdown of where states stand on CBD extracted from marijuana:

Legal for Medical Use  

Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

In all other states, CBD from marijuana is still illegal for medical use. Arizona law is unclear. The state legalizes medical marijuana; however, they consider cannabis extracts unlawful, which includes CBD,

Legal for Recreational Use  

The list of states that allows CBD from marijuana for recreational use is shorter, and they are:  

Alaska, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

Legal Status of CBD in Sports

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is an international agency that works independently to stop athletes’ doping. In 2018, the agency stated that it would not test for CBD. However, not all professional sports associations, such as the NFL, allows WADA to test its athletes.

Several collegiate and professional associations allow the use of CBD. An exception is the NBA, which bans cannabis. While a player testing positive for THC might face suspension, it’s unclear if the same would happen with CBD extracted from hemp.

The WNBA also prohibits all products derived from cannabis. It’s unclear if the NCAA bans CBD.

The associations that allow CBD do so with the reasoning that CBD helps athletes recover faster from injuries and reduce inflammation associated with hard training sessions. Several elite athletes have even formed partnerships with CBD companies and promote their products.

What to Look for When Buying Approved CBD Products

Knowing federal, state, and local laws can be a daunting task. That’s why it’s important to know what to look for before buying.

When shopping for CBD products, customers will usually see three types: Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and CBD Isolate. Understanding the difference between them is essential to ensuring that the product is legal in the customer’s state.

Full Spectrum

When a product states that it is Full Spectrum, it means that all the cannabinoid compounds are extracted from the cannabis plant. Not only does this include CBD, but it also has over 120 other cannabinoids, including trace amounts of THC. Many people choose Full Spectrum CBD because of the “entourage effect” that promotes the idea that all cannabinoids work together to provide the customer with all the health benefits of the cannabis plant.

Broad Spectrum 

Broad Spectrum CBD contains all the beneficial cannabinoids of the cannabis plant except the THC. It has been completely removed so customers who are worried about the legality of THC in their state or may be sensitive to THC can still receive the therapeutic effects of CBD.

CBD Isolate

This type of CBD is precise, as its name suggests. It is highly processed so that the consumer is getting a product that contains only CBD. Products made with CBD Isolate do not have any THC. They also don’t contain any other cannabinoids from the cannabis plant.

After determining the type of CBD, it’s vital to know the following when buying CBD products:

Hemp Source

Hemp grown in the United States is highly regulated and produced under specific guidelines under the 2108 Farm Bill, which guarantees that hemp has less than 0.3% of THC. Any CBD extracted from internationally grown hemp may have more than the allowable THC level, making it illegal in the United States.

Certificate of Analysis

Legitimate manufacturers of CBD have their products tested by an independent, third-party laboratory. Furthermore, it provides documentation to its customers of the lab tests. Customers can verify the product contains the amount of CBD listed on its label. The amount of THC does not exceed legal limits.


When trying CBD for the first time, it’s hard to know how much to use for effectiveness. It’s always best to start with a lower dosage and increase it until the person feels the desired results with no side effects. 


Every human body has different needs and reacts to CBD in different ways. That’s why it’s crucial to find a company that can offer various products, such as tinctures, gummies, and topical products. Sometimes a customer needs to experiment before finding a product that works for them. 

One benefit of taking CBD in a capsule or gummy is that each one is infused with an exact amount of CBD, making it easier to monitor dosage effectiveness.

The Bottom Line

The landscape of CBD regulations is continuously changing. It can be hard to keep on top of both federal and state laws. Even though healers used cannabis and CBD for thousands of years, the stigma associated with THC and CBD is difficult to overcome. The legalization of CBD has often been an uphill battle.

However, as research continues to show the benefits of CBD and its use become more mainstream, especially among athletes, many can expect to see a loosening of restrictions. 

Many manufacturers hope for the FDA to designate CBD as a dietary supplement, allowing federal oversight in its marketing and eventually eliminating companies that produce substandard products.

Until the time comes when all CBD products, derived from either hemp or marijuana, becomes unilaterally legal for both medicinal and recreational use in all 50 states, customers need to know both state and local laws where they live. Furthermore, customers must do due diligence before purchasing CBD to ensure the company is reputable and provides a quality product.

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