Is CBD legal in the USA?
The legal status of CBD as an over-the-counter natural medicine was questionable at best until recently.
CBD got a bad rap for a long time because of its more well-known psychoactive chemical cousin, Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. It's been a long-fought legal battle over decades that has relaxed marijuana laws and led to the discovery of other beneficial cannabinoids from the Cannabis Sativa plant in the process.
After the legalization of THC-rich marijuana products in several states across the USA, research about other cannabinoids began to emerge. That was the final redemption for CBD as scientists discovered its powerful benefits and complete absence of psychoactive side effects. CBD will never get you "high," no matter how much you take.
This was the defining trait that sealed the deal for CBD legalization through the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, more commonly called the 2018 Farm Bill. The Act legalizes all hemp derivatives that limit total THC concentration to 0.3% or less. In other words, as long as it didn't have psychoactive effects, it was legal to cultivate, manufacture, and sell CBD over the counter in the federal government's eyes.
In 2023, CBD is legal to buy online and in retail stores so long as it does not exceed the THC thresholds outlined by the 2018 statutes. It's also legal to buy hemp derivatives that include terpenes and other cannabinoids, like CBN (Cannabinol), CBG (Cannabigerol), and CBC (Cannabichromene).
The Farm Bill does have nuances that first-time CBD users should understand before buying CBD. We'll explore these in more detail in the sections below. You may also use the table of contents at the top of this article to jump to a specific area of interest.
In 2023, it is legal to buy CBD products that limit total THC concentration to 0.3%. It's also legal to buy hemp derivatives, including other cannabinoids like CBN, CBG, and CBC.
Understanding the Differences Between Cannabis, Hemp, and Marijuana
In short, all CBD is sourced from the cannabis plant.
But the law defines different types of cannabis in a very specific way as it pertains to legality on a federal level. So whether or not your CBD is legal under the 2018 Farm Bill depends on which plant it comes from.
Keep reading to find out why you could be carrying a legal over-the-counter medicine or an illegal drug based on this one critical factor.
What is cannabis?
In technical terms, cannabis is the specific genus of the plant family known as Cannabaceae. Marijuana and hemp are both considered cannabis plants, and all three terms have traditionally been used interchangeably.
The 2018 Farm Bill, however, has changed their definitions on a technical level. The term cannabis still accurately describes where marijuana and hemp come from. But marijuana and hemp now refer to two distinct products with different legal statuses.
What is marijuana?
Marijuana, while a cannabis plant, is considered to be a primarily intoxicating substance. This is due to the high concentration of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC in the plant. Its contemporary uses include inhalation via smoking the plant's flowers, colloquially known as buds. Marijuana can also be consumed as an edible in the form of an oil, pill, food, drink, or vape.
In recent years, advanced extraction methods have led to marijuana products with extreme concentrations of THC that are over 90% pure. These high-strength THC extracts are powerfully psychoactive and sometimes combined with CBD into a ratio formula. Marijuana CBD products can be mildly to very intoxicating, and they are not at all like over-the-counter CBD. Therefore, always exercise caution using formulas with a high THC-to-CBD ratio until you know how they affect you.
LEARN MORE: What is a ratio THC CBD formula?
As of 2023, a THC-rich marijuana cannabis product is considered a "Schedule 1" drug as defined by the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. Federal law makes it illegal to transport marijuana across state lines, and its sale or possession may be prosecuted in federal court.
Some states have relaxed their marijuana laws in opposition to federal guidelines. The cultivation, sale, possession, and use of marijuana are legal under certain conditions in these states. Others have enacted medicinal restrictions requiring would-be marijuana users to obtain a prescription before purchasing it in a licensed medical dispensary. States like California, Oregon, and Washington have legalized both recreational and medicinal marijuana use.
In 2023, 39 states have legalized marijuana for medical use, and 19 states have legalized it for recreational use.
Remember that it is still illegal to transport marijuana products across state lines due to federal law, whatever the legal status of marijuana is in your state.
What is hemp?
Hemp is also considered a member of the cannabis genus. But its classification according to the government of the United States via the 2018 Farm Bill makes it 100% legal under clearly defined circumstances.
Per section 10113 of the Farm Bill, cannabis is classified as hemp when it contains less than 0.3% THC. At these low, non-psychoactive levels of THC, hemp can be cultivated, transported across state lines, manufactured, and sold legally. However, should the levels of THC exceed Farm Bill guidelines, it would be considered a marijuana product and illegal under Federal Law.
CBD and THC both come from the cannabis plant. The 2018 Farm Bill defines different types of cannabis in a very specific way as it pertains to legality on a federal level. Whether or not CBD is legal depends on which plant it comes from and how much THC it contains. Hemp-derived CBD is considered legal under federal law because it contains less than 0.3% THC. CBD derived from marijuana is considered illegal because it has a THC concentration that exceeds federal limits.
What is the difference between hemp CBD and marijuana CBD?
On a molecular level, CBD extracted from hemp is no different than CBD extracted from marijuana. The compound maintains the same chemical structures when isolated from both plants and possesses the same mechanisms of action and benefits.
From a legal standpoint, however, CBD derived from marijuana does not meet the requirements of the 2018 Farm Bill because the marijuana cannabis plant is loaded with THC — significantly more than the federal 0.3% THC limit. Therefore, this type of CBD cannot be extracted from the plant and sold legally over the counter because it is a psychoactive drug.
Hemp-derived CBD, on the other hand, comes from cannabis plants that contain less than 0.3% THC. Because the levels of THC in the source plant fall below the federal threshold, this type of CBD may be legally extracted and used to manufacture CBD products that can be lawfully infused into products like CBD oil, CBD softgel capsules, CBD gummies, and CBD honey sticks.
Every state has its own set of guidelines, and most follow federal law with respect to how they classify different types of CBD (marijuana-based or hemp-based).
For example, states like California distinguish where each type of CBD can be sold. You can purchase CBD products in California at medical and recreational dispensaries, but only if the CBD has been extracted from THC-rich marijuana plants. You cannot buy marijuana-derived CBD products over the counter. However, CBD derived from hemp is available for purchase at California nutrition stores, vape shops, salons, and even big-box retailers.
The chemical makeup of CBD is the same regardless of whether it is derived from hemp or marijuana. However, the legality of the two types of CBD varies. CBD extracted from hemp plants contains less than 0.3% THC, which makes it legal under federal law. CBD derived from marijuana plants exceeds the federal THC limits, so it is not legal.
What is the legal status of CBD (cannabidiol) in 2023?
One of the key provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill was the legalization of hemp products with less than 0.3% THC.
Section 12619 of the bill makes it a point to remove hemp with less than this amount from the "Schedule 1" drug classification. This means that consumers can legally buy CBD oil in 2023 throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico without fear of prosecution or penalty from federal law enforcement agencies.
CBD products derived from hemp are legal to buy, sell, and possess nationwide so long as the CBD preparation (oil, edible, topical, vape, etc.) does not exceed the federal THC limits.
What is the age requirement to buy CBD?
You must be 18 years or older to legally purchase hemp-derived CBD products sold over the counter.
CBD derived from marijuana can only be purchased from licensed local dispensaries, which require shoppers to be at least 18 years of age for medical use and 21 years of age for recreational use.
Are CBD products that contain THC legal?
Under specific circumstances, a CBD product may legally contain tiny amounts of THC that are not psychoactive. These are usually called full spectrum CBD because they have a range of cannabinoids, including THC.
Some CBD products undergo additional filtration to remove THC entirely. These are called broad spectrum CBD (0.0% THC) and CBD isolate (0.00% THC)to distinguish them from their THC-containing counterpart.
The total volume of THC in any CBD preparation must not exceed 0.3% THC to be considered a legal hemp product under the law.
CBD is legal in all 50 states and Puerto Rico as of 2023, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp with less than 0.3% THC from the Schedule 1 drug classification. Products derived from hemp are legal to buy, sell, and possess nationwide so long as the CBD preparation (oil, edible, topical, vape, etc.) does not exceed the federal THC limits. CBD products may legally contain tiny amounts of THC that are not psychoactive — typically called full spectrum CBD — but must not exceed 0.3% THC to be considered a legal hemp product under the law. You must be at least 18 years old to buy over-the-counter CBD.
How do I know if my CBD oil or Cannabidiol product is legal?
CBD products manufactured according to federal law should include specific details on the product label.
- Hemp should be clearly labeled as the source of the extract
- The product's maximum THC content should be listed
- QR code for a Certificate of Analysis (COA) should be prominent and easy to scan with a smartphone
The following example of a label found on Cannabiva 12,000MG Full Spectrum CBD Oil clearly designates the source of the CBD extract as hemp-based, notes the levels of THC, and provides a QR code that links to the COA to verify that THC levels in the product fall below the federal legal limit of 0.3% THC:
The sample label from a Cannabiva product above provides all the details you need to prove that your CBD product is hemp-derived and 100% legal according to federal regulations should the need ever arise.
All CBD products at Cannabiva.com have this information readily accessible on their product labels.
CBD manufacturers should include detailed information on the product label, including the extract's source, THC content, and a link to a certificate of analysis to ensure compliance with federal and state laws.
Hemp Seed Oil vs. Hemp Extract Oil
Hemp is a versatile plant that can be processed in many different ways — two of the most popular are hemp seed oils and hemp extract oils.
The term "hemp seed oil" has been traditionally used to describe the byproduct that results from applying high pressure to the hemp plant's seeds. The nutrient-rich oil they produce is hemp seed oil, which contains beneficial lipids and fatty acids like Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9.
Hemp seed oil is used in everything from cold food dishes to topical hair and skin treatments. Though it is a hemp product, it does not contain any psychoactive compounds, is not regulated by the 2018 Farm Bill, and is legal to purchase at grocery stores, nutrition shops, and online.
"Hemp extract oil" is a general term used to describe products made from advanced extraction processes that isolate natural medicines like cannabinoids and terpenes from the above-ground parts of the cannabis plant.
Hemp oil extracts are strictly regulated on a federal level by the 2018 Farm Bill and other U.S. statutes because they typically include isolating cannabinoids like THC and CBD. As a result, hemp extract oils can be lawfully sold over the counter throughout the United States as long as they do not exceed 0.3% THC by volume.
The three most common hemp extract oil types are full spectrum, broad spectrum, and single-molecule isolate.
Hemp seed oil and hemp extract oil are different products made from the hemp plant. Hemp seed oil is made by applying high pressure to the plant's seeds and does not contain CBD or psychoactive compounds. Hemp extract oil is made through advanced extraction processes that isolate natural medicines like CBD from the above-ground parts of the plant. It is strictly regulated and can be lawfully sold over the counter as long as it does not exceed 0.3% THC by volume.
Is full spectrum CBD oil legal?
Full spectrum CBD oil is a type of hemp extract oil blended with full spectrum concentrate, the gooey and sticky medicinal stuff produced by the cannabis plant. Full spectrum oil contains a rich mixture of natural medicines, including cannabinoid molecules like CBD, CBN, CBG, CBC, and THC.
Along with cannabinoids, full spectrum blends contain terpenes known for giving CBD oils their characteristic aroma and taste. Terpenes are co-factors that work together with cannabinoids to enhance the entourage effect and maximize CBD benefits.
It is legal to buy full spectrum CBD oil in 2023 over the counter or online so long as it is derived from hemp and does not exceed 0.3% THC by volume.
Is broad spectrum CBD oil legal?
Broad spectrum CBD oil maintains a balanced combination of cannabinoids and terpenes for a beneficial entourage effect with one key difference compared to full spectrum oils — broad spectrum CBD has no detectable levels.
The broad spectrum CBD concentrate used to blend the products together is processed through an additional filtration process that removes any traces of THC. Broad spectrum CBD must contain 0.0% or less THC.
Broad spectrum CBD oil with no THC is legal to buy over the counter and online in 2023.
Is pure CBD isolate oil legal?
Advanced extraction and filtration techniques make it possible for manufacturers of hemp extract oil to isolate specific cannabinoid molecules. During the isolation process, technicians can remove compounds like plant lipids, chlorophyll, flavonoids, cannabinoids, and terpenes from the raw material.
It has no other cannabinoids, flavonoids, or terpenes — just pure CBD (up to 99.9% purity). As such, CBD oil isolate is flavorless, colorless, and lacks any aroma. All of the THC has been removed from single-molecule CBD isolate products, so they contain 0.00% THC.
Pure CBD isolate oil with no THC is legal to buy over the counter and online in 2023.
What is a hemp-derived cannabinoid, and is it legal?
Cannabinoids are a class of natural medicines that come from the cannabis plant.
CBD, short for Cannabidiol, is the most prevalent cannabinoid in hemp. That's why it's called a major cannabinoid.
Scientists have identified over 140 other cannabinoids and counting. These are called minor cannabinoids because they are found in trace amounts. But a little goes a long way when they combine with CBD to create a powerhouse of therapeutic benefits through a phenomenon called the entourage effect.
Some of the most common minor cannabinoids derived from hemp include the following:
- Cannabinol (CBN)
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Cannabidivarin (CBDV)
- Delta-8 THC (D8)
All of these minor cannabinoids have their own unique properties that may offer therapeutic benefits to users when taken together or alone.
Hemp-derived cannabinoids are legal to buy over the counter and online in the USA so long as the preparation does not exceed the federal legal limit of 0.3% THC.
Is CBN (Cannabinol) legal?
Cannabinol, or CBN for short, is derived from hemp just like CBD!
The U.S. federal government signed legislation to remove hemp from the list of controlled substances in 2018. This legislative act made hemp-derived products, like CBN, legal so long as they did not exceed 0.3% THC content.
Zero High® CBN Oil is a single-molecule isolate product that's so pure, it contains nothing but CBN (0.00% THC) and is 100% legal in all 50 United States and Puerto Rico.
Is CBG (Cannabigerol) legal?
Cannabigerol, or CBG for short, is extracted from the same hemp-based cannabis that CBD comes from.
CBG is legal in the USA after the 2018 Farm Bill was passed and signed into law by congress. As a result, all hemp-derived products, including CBG, that have less than 0.3% THC may now be legally sold in all 50 states.
Zero High® CBG Oil with no THC is made using a pure isolate Cannabigerol and has no detectable THC levels (0.00% THC). It's 100% legal in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
Is CBC (Cannabichromene) legal?
Cannabichromene, or CBC for short, is also made from hemp cannabis like CBD.
In 2018, the updated U.S. Farm Bill was signed into law. One of the key provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill was the legalization of hemp products that have no more than 0.3% THC.
CBC, which is also a cannabinoid found in hemp cannabis, is now legal to buy in the 50 states and Puerto Rico.
Is Delta 8 THC legal?
Delta 8 is a tricky cannabinoid, because it does not have more than 0.3% THC and is technically legal according to the 2018 Farm Bill.
But Delta 8 is also mildy intoxicating and psychoactive, which happens to be a major sticking point with federal and state governments. Although Delta 8 is nowhere near as potent as its chemical cousin Delta 9 THC, it can still pack a whallop.
At least a dozen states have banned Delta 8 as of 2023 due to concerns over its psychoactive effects. The FDA has received over a hundred adverse reaction reports from Delta 8 consumers with reported side effects ranging from hallucinating and vomiting to loss of consciousness.
You should not buy Delta 8 until you are fully certain that it is legal in your state. Use Delta 8 with caution until you know how it affects you.
Do not drive or operate heavy machinery after taking Delta 8.
Are hemp terpenes legal?
Hemp terpenes are aromatic compounds found in the cannabis plant. Terpenes are produced by the same glands in the plant that produce cannabinoids like THC and CBD, and they are an important part of the plant's natural defense system.
Terpenes derived from hemp should not be confused with THC or marijuana, which are both psychoactive compounds. Hemp terpenes have zero THC and are not psychoactive..
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized all hemp byproducts so long as they did not exceed 0.3% THC, which includes hemp-derived terpenes.
You may legally buy hemp terpenes in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
Do I need a prescription to use or buy CBD?
No, you do not need a prescription to take over-the-counter CBD products that conform to the 2018 Farm Bill.
This means that all hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC are legal for sale without a prescription in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
THC:CBD “ratio” formulas are a different story altogether. These products also contain CBD, except it is derived from marijuana instead of hemp. Ratio products exceed the federal limits for THC content and require a prescription in some states or come with age restrictions in states where recreational marijuana use is legal.
RELATED: What is a THC:CBD ratio product?
Check your CBD product label for THC content if you are not sure.
Where can I legally buy CBD oil and other CBD products?
In the United States, you can buy CBD products over the counter and online. But whether or not it is legal may depend on the type of CBD product you are looking for and the state you live in.
You can buy CBD oil online and over the counter at various retailers that include health food stores, nutrition shops, and convenience stores. Pay attention when choosing you CBD products so that you only buy from reputable companies that test their products for THC potency and purity.
Cannabiva CBD products are triple-tested to verify potency, purity, and overall product quality. They meet U.S. federal and state guidelines for legal CBD and you can buy them online today. Upgrade your shipping and get your CBD in as little as one day!
Can I legally mail CBD products?
Hemp-derived CBD products are 100% legal to ship in the USA.
The 2018 Farm Bill made hemp-derived products with less than 0.3% THC federally legal in all 50 states, so you are free to buy and ship CBD without fear of prosecution or penalty from federal law enforcement.
Not all shipping carriers will ship CBD, and some have outright banned cannabis products altogether. You should check with your carrier before shipping CBD to make sure they allow it.
Can I legally have CBD products shipped to me?
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production and sale of hemp and hemp-derived products, including CBD, on a federal level. This means that it is legal to buy CBD online and have it shipped to all 50 states as long as 1) your CBD product was derived from hemp-based cannabis and 2) your CBD product has no more than 0.3% THC. CBD products that meet these two guidelines are legal to ship to all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
Make sure to check with the shipping carrier before mailing CBD. Even though CBD is legal in all 50 states, some carriers might still refuse to ship it.
Can I travel with CBD products?
Domestic travel in the U.S. with CBD is legal so long as your product does not exceed the federal limit of 0.3% THC, according to the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp-derived CBD products that have only very small amounts of THC. In the U.S., you are free to buy and travel with CBD that meets farm bill guidelines without fear of prosecution or penalty.
International travel with CBD is a different story and requires some important considerations before packing it into your luggage. Even though traveling internationally with CBD is legal in many places worldwide, there are some places where it is not.
It's critical you check the specific laws of your destination country before traveling with CBD internationally. You should also ensure that the amount of CBD you carry is within the legal limit for your destination country, if applicable.
Contact your embassy or check out the consulate website of your destination country if you’re not sure about the legal status of CBD.
Here are some other practical considerations to keep in mind when you are traveling with CBD in the U.S. or around the world:
- Keep your CBD products in their original packaging
- Carry only CBD products with labels that list the total THC content (and make sure it remains within the legal limits of where you are going)
- Snap a picture of your receipt or an invoice that shows the product name and where you purchased it
Wherever you go in the world, it’s best to err on the side of caution when deciding whether it is safe to transport CBD or other cannabis-derived products across international borders. If in doubt, it’s probably best to leave it behind.
Can I fly with CBD and hemp products?
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows passengers to bring CBD products that comply with the 2018 Farm Bill on all domestic flights. This means that CBD products must contain no more than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana. However, it is still up to individual airport security personnel to decide whether to allow CBD products on a flight.
Make sure you check the laws in the specific location to which you traveling before flying with CBD in your possession, especially if you are flying outside of the U.S. Exercise careful consideration and avoid flying with any substances that could cause legal issues.
It's best to err on the side of caution and avoid flying with CBD if you are unsure about the legality at your final destination.
Can I drive with CBD oil or other hemp-derived extracts in my car?
Generally speaking, most industrial hemp products contain less than 0.3% THC by weight which makes them federally legal across all 50 states according to the 2018 Farm Bill. This includes other hemp derivatives, like Cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabinol (CBN), and Cannabichromene (CBC).
Even though it is perfectly legal to drive with CBD in your car, it is still illegal to drive while under the influence of anything that impairs your ability to operate the vehicle safely, so let's take a look at whether you are allowed to drive after taking CBD.
Can I drive after taking CBD?
CBD is a naturally occurring plant medicine found in hemp-based cannabis. Unlike THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, CBD does not produce any intoxicating or inebriating effects.
According to one study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology published in May of 2022, CBD doses up to 1500 mg do not cause feelings of intoxication and are unlikely to impair cognitive function or driving performance. However, this does not mean that CBD does not have any potential effects on driving ability just because it does not make you feel "high" or alter your state of consciousness.
Some people who take CBD may experience drowsiness that could affect their ability to drive, so the answer to whether or not CBD has effects on your driving ability is not a simple yes or no.
But not everyone who takes CBD will experience drowsiness. In fact, some people report that CBD actually improves their focus and concentration, which could potentially lead to better decision-making skills when navigating through traffic situations or other challenging scenarios while driving. Additionally, the effects of CBD vary depending on the individual, the dose, and the method of ingestion. For example, CBD oils and tinctures can take longer to take effect than inhaled products like vape pens, which affects how the body responds to CBD.
The bottom line is that everyone is unique. Each person reacts a little differently when taking CBD. Therefore, it is best practice to use caution if you are just beginning CBD and wait until you know how it affects you before driving after taking CBD. Avoid driving if CBD makes you feel drowsy or otherwise impaired.
Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about your driving ability when taking CBD.
CBD will not affect your ability to drive a car at doses up to of 1,500 mg. But everyone is unique, and each person reacts to CBD a little differently. Use caution when first beginning CBD and wait until you know how it affects you before you drive a car or operate heavy machinery.
Does the FDA regulate CBD products in the U.S.?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates products with Cannabidiol (CBD) as part of its mandate to protect public health.
The FDA has approved one CBD-based drug used to treat seizures associated with two rare forms of severe epilepsy. The FDA approval of this drug for medical use does not mean they have approved CBD for use as a dietary supplement or in food products. CBD and other hemp derivatives used as nutritional or food products are not approved by the FDA to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
CBD products, while not regulated by the FDA, are continually evaluated by the agency for safety, effectiveness, and even product marketing claims. The FDA has issued dozens of warning letters to companies that have marketed unapproved CBD products with unsupported claims about their benefits.
Is CBD legal in all 50 States?
Yes! In 2018, the U.S. Farm Bill was passed to make hemp and its derivatives legal for cultivation, production, sale, and transport throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
This means that any product made from hemp with less than 0.3% THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis) is legal without a prescription or medical card. You cannot be prosecuted or penalized for having CBD or other cannabinoids from hemp by federal law enforcement agencies.