Is CBD Oil Legal in all 50 States in US?

Let’s face it; the world of CBD is a convoluted mess.

Is CBD legal? Well, to be honest, there’s no short answer to this question. So, let’s take the long road to make sense of this terrible confusion.

For those of you who still don’t know, CBD is a naturally occurring cannabinoid of the cannabis plant which possesses anxiolytic and anti-inflammatory properties.

It is itself non-psychotropic in nature, but the problem arises due to the source of its production: the cannabis plant or marijuana. This is because of the THC content that differs in CBD extracts obtained from marijuana and industrial hemp as they are both variants of the same species. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the main compound that acts as the psychoactive agent, getting you high.

While marijuana has been nurtured over time to produce higher amounts of THC, industrial hemp typically generates less than 0.3% THC which cannot really cause intoxication.

The demand for CBD has shot up in the recent years due to the enormous amounts of published journals, media coverage and anecdotal accounts which all extoll the benefits of the compound.

It is not only used as a beneficial treatment in pain-related issues but is also known to bring relief for anxiety and depression. CBD is being used extensively in naturopathic and traditional treatments of several ailments with impressive outcomes.

But, regardless of the efficiency of this cannabinoid, CBD still stands in a grey area when it comes to the legality of the product due to the reasons mentioned above. Whereas CBD itself is legal in many regions where marijuana is banned, CBD strains containing even minimal amounts of THC is deemed illegal.

Therefore, it is primarily essential for us to understand the causes behind the strict legal regulations of CBD while knowing where and in what form is it legal in the world.

The essential difference between Hemp-derived and Marijuana-derived CBD.

Although many of us may be aware of the difference between CBD Isolate and Full-Spectrum CBD, but, to understand the legal status of CBD and its many formulations in different parts of the world, you first have to know the basic facts about its origin.

Since marijuana and hemp (cannabis indica and cannabis sativa) are similar strains of the cannabis plant, they share several common traits and attributes. The critical difference between these two strains is primarily the amount of Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC each plant produces.

Whereas marijuana can give off up to 30% THC, industrial hemp usually contains no more than 0.3% THC. THC being a psychoactive compound can get you really high and have anxiogenic and hallucinatory effects if consumed in larger doses.

This is why industrial hemp-derived CBD could be safely consumed as it poses no risk of having any adverse effects caused by higher amounts of THC: an advantage that could not be availed of marijuana-derived CBD.  

So Which type of CBD Oil is Legal?

CBD can be extracted from different strains of cannabis. So it’s important to know which one is used to know if it’s legal to use or not in your state.

Is Hemp-Derived CBD Legal?

Therefore, to clear up the air of ambiguity surrounding the question of CBD being legal or not, we have to contextualize it within these strict chemical procedures regarding its manufacturing, as the keyword that decides all here is “hemp-derived.”

Even though CBD obtained from hemp has no psychoactive effects, the purchase, sale, and possession of hemp-derived CBD products are not completely legalized in all 50 states. It is because hemp is sometimes confused with the marijuana plant, the stigma attached to CBD is still prevalent in some cases, although it somewhat enjoys equal rights as that of any other legal product.

Is Marijuana-Derived CBD Legal?

Unlike hemp-driven CBD, marijuana-derived CBD products do not enjoy a free legal status everywhere. Since marijuana is said to contain a high amount of THC, CBD derived from it is judged on the basis of its source.

In certain states, marijuana-derived CBD is absolutely legal, while in some other it is not. But, in most states, the legal status of marijuana-derived CBD remains ambiguous, with each state having their own specific laws of dealing with it.

The United Nations, consisting of 193 member states, had created a treaty in the year 1971 to control psychoactive drugs, such as cannabis and psychedelics. As of yet, there has been no development or mention in the treaty regarding CBD usage or the product being a controlled substance.

In the United States, cannabidiol or CBD falls under the category of Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which means that production, distribution, and possession of CBD is illegal under federal law.

In 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration listed “marijuana extracts” under Schedule I drugs that defined it as “ an extract containing one or more cannabinoids that have been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis, other than the separated resin ( whether crude or purified) obtained from the plant.” It should be noted that CBD was previously considered “marijuana-derived,” which is a Schedule I drug.

When FDA sanctioned Epidiolex for rare types of childhood epilepsy in June 2018, the medication was rescheduled as a Schedule V drug that allowed it to be legally used as a pharmaceutical drug. It should be duly noted that this change is applicable to only FDA-approved products containing no more than 0.1% THC.

Although it allows GW Pharma to sell Epidiolex, it does not apply widely, which means that all other CBD-containing products still remain Schedule I drugs.

States where Marijuana CBD is Legal for therapeutic purposes.

As of 2018, there are a total of 8 states where the cannabis plant, including both marijuana and hemp, are more or less accepted for medicinal and recreational usage. These states are:

  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Washington

You can use any form of CBD in these states without a prescription but it is still advisable to be informed about the definite laws in these states regarding CBD before using it.

States that allow legal usage of CBD for medicinal purposes

As the current legal status of CBD stands in 2018, it is legally allowed with a prescription for medicinal use in a total of 46 states, out of which 8 have already been mentioned previously for you.

But, even though, CBD is legal in these states, the law regarding this differs from state to state. There are 17 states which have specific legislation for the amount of THC content found in CBD and for the conditions being treated with it. These 17 states are:

  • Alabama
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

The other 29 states that fully legalize the use of all CBD products derived from either hemp or marijuana for medical purposes are:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

The territories of Guam and Puerto Rico also allow the use of CBD for medicinal purposes.

However, you must have a medical prescription issued by a certified and licensed doctor before buying any CBD product in these states (apart from the ones that allow its use for recreational purposes).

Also, remember that each state only allows up to a particular THC concentration in CBD products and this could range from 0.3%-8%. It is always advisable to be aware of such regulations and abide by the laws even if the shift for CBD legalization seems to be taking a fair turn.

States where CBD is illegal 

Apart from the 46 states that do allow the use of marijuana or hemp-derived CBD, there are 4 states where it is still illegal. These are:

  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Nebraska
  • South Dakota

Although there are people who still use CBD products in these states, the laws regarding are still pretty much in murky water. Hence, it is strictly advisable to be very cautious and careful while dealing with CBD products in these states.

CBD Legalization in Canada

Quite recently, in fact, on October 17, 2018, cannabis became legal in Canada for medicinal and recreational uses. This means that it is going to be entirely legal to obtain and possess CBD products.

Federal Law

Under Federal Law, cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act. This means that marijuana is still federally outlawed which the US Drug Enforcement Act states, has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

This act makes it illegal to obtain, deal or possess products made from marijuana. It also applies to cannabis extracts which are defined by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as “ an extract containing one or more cannabinoids that have been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis, other than the separated resin (whether crude or purified) obtained from the plant.”

However, the point that makes things really confusing is that while cannabis is federally illegal, industrial hemp is not. This is a vital point in the legal structure regarding cannabis and CBD, as it makes industrial-hemp derived CBD legal for produce and supply, despite it being the same compound obtained from the cannabis plant.

About the Farm Bill

The Agricultural Act of 2014, which is commonly known as the 2014 Farm Bill, has brought progressive changes for the hemp industry by legalizing a few cultivation activities that have contributed to the development of this industry.

According to the 2014 Farm Bill, a set of federal laws concerning US food and agriculture, that in part establishes guidelines for growing hemp in the US, legal “industrial hemp” refers to plants and products obtained from cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC, grown by a state-licensed farmer.

While, on the other hand, there’s nothing in the bill about CBD products now widely available.

In response to this new rule by the DEA, the Hemp Industrial Association filed an appeal saying that the agency had overstepped its bounds when it failed to acknowledge lawful hemp and non-psychoactive cannabinoids, such as CBD, that already seemed to be covered by the Farm Bill.

Although last month a panel of judges for the 9th Circuit Court OF Appeals rejected this appeal, primarily because the trade group failed to comment during the DEA’s rule-making process, it wasn’t exactly a crushing loss.

This is because it was adjudged that the Farm Bill’s definition of legal cannabis differed from that of the DEA’s. The presiding judges put to paper that “the Agricultural Act-i.e., the Farm Bill-” contemplates potential conflict between the Controlled Substances Act”-i.e., the DEA’s scheduling rules-” and preempts it.

The (DEA’s 2017) Final Rule, therefore, does not violate the Agricultural Act.”

Hence, in other words, although the trade group lost this particular, it was an overall win for the Farm Bill.

The recent developments in the Farm Bill

Earlier this year, the US Senate introduced The Hemp Farming Act in its version of the 2018 Farm Bill. The act, among other things, seeks to establish hemp as an agricultural commodity. It gives the states the power to supervise hemp production and overrule the DEA’s authority over hemp.

The 2018 Farm Bill is currently in the conference committee where the two legislative chambers must reconcile a few differences before approving on it. The bill is expected to be signed into law before the end of the year.

If the Hemp Farming Act does survive the present situation in its present form, it would be a landmark achievement in the history of the hemp industry.


It is a rather grey area still, where the legality of CBD resides. Yet, we cannot help but agree to the many benefits that CBD has brought forth in the medical field, and the fact that it is still disreputable to the federal law is rather unfortunate.

However, in the light of the recent chain of events and their consequent developments in this field, we find ourselves hoping earnestly for a positive shift in the legal status of CBD and looking forward to a healthy outcome without the threat of abuse.

To conclude, we leave the state of facts as they are and strictly advice to be informed about the current state of legal situations regarding CBD, its uses and its origins in different places and act responsibly with complete allegiance to the law.

Author Details
Senior Editor & Researcher , Greenthevoteok
Matt Hansel is a Medical Practitioner, who has been writing and researching about cannabis since 2014.  His popular quotes which we like are: \"Don\'t use CBD oil for a cure, use it as a precaution\"  \"CBD should be considered as any other vitamin supplement and your body needs it!\"