Is CBD Legal? | Legality of CBD derived from HEMP

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There is a lot of confusion in the United States regarding cannabidiol (CBD). CBD by law is a legal extraction if it is derived from hemp. Hemp, according to law is defined as cannabis with very low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the molecule that can cause a high when heated. On the contrary, CBD derived from cannabis with high levels of THC is illegal in many states.

The confusion also stems from restrictions in farming. Unlike corn, wheat and other natural products, hemp has not been as easily farmed however that is getting ready to change due to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill. Until 2014, in the United States, the only legal hemp was imported mostly from Europe, China and Canada.


  1. Import: It is currently legal to import CBD from the stalks but not the flowers.
  2. Medical Marijuana Programs: CBD extracted from marijuana is legal in some states, but this product can not move across state lines. To buy from this program you must also comply with the states laws to obtain the product.
  3. Domestic Hemp Programs: This is the most readily available way to purchase CBD. Buying from a legal hemp program that complies with the 2018 Farm Bill is the easiest way to buy. This law clearly states that CBD can be extracted from hemp and processed as food.


On February 7, 2014 President Obama signed the Farm Bill of 2013 into law. Section 7606 of the act titled, “Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research”, defines industrial hemp as distinctly different from marijuana. It conveyed to Departments of Agriculture and Institutions of higher learning the ability to grow, cultivate, process and market hemp as long as research projects were conducted in accordance with state and federal laws. However, it wasn’t until an August 2016, issuance of a Statement of Principles by the USDA (also co-signed by DOJ/DEA and HHS/FDA) that federal agencies had a legal basis for the broad federal acceptance of hemp.

The bill further states that as long as the Cannabis Sativa plant has less than .3% THC it qualifies as industrial hemp. It states growers can extract the CBD and its other cannabinoids from the flowers and leaves instead of the stalk, which is primarily used for industrial purposes. This bill was again passed in 2018, officially named the Agricultural Improvement Act. It passed in December 2018 officially legalizing hemp. This was a major victory for the industry for several reasons. First and foremost, it removed CBD as a federally registered, Schedule I drug. It also puts no restrictions on the sale, transport, or possession of hemp-derived products, so long as those items are produced in a manner consistent with the law. The bill also opened access to farmers. Hemp will now be treated like other agricultural commodities in many ways. Although it will remain heavily regulated, it will become more of a mainstream crop. Farmers will also be able to seek protections under the Federal Crop Insurance Act. This act will assist farmers who face any unexpected crop losses. This protection was unavailable previously. Furthermore, section 7605 and 7501 extends the protections for hemp research and will allow scientist to conduct their studies more freely. This provision recognizes the importance and opportunity of the plant and the products that can be derived from it.

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