CBD’s legal status is confusing since marijuana and cannabis are still illegal under federal law in the United States. The Farm Bill passed in 2018 did ease restrictions on CBD, but only in some cases. And that’s largely dependent on how much THC, the compound in marijuana that gets you high, is in a product. Here’s a guide to know how much THC is legally allowed in CBD products.
CBD comes from either hemp or marijuana. While both plants are part of the cannabis family, hemp contains almost no THC, while marijuana contains varying amounts.
Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD products derived from hemp plants are legal as long as they are less than 0.3 percent THC. Anything above 0.3 percent is classified as marijuana, which is a Schedule I illicit substance. So in short, .3% is the amount of THC legally allowed in CBD products. As long as a CBD product has less than 0.3 percent THC, it’s legal. This may be why some people try CBD and don’t feel anything and think it’s not working.
The FDA Is in Transition
However, this gets a little trickier when it comes to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. The FDA says it’s illegal to sell CBD products unless they’re approved by the agency. Right now, there’s only one product, called Epidiolex, that has been approved by the FDA. But obviously that’s not stopping the many retailers across the country selling CBD products. It’s not quite clear if the 2018 Farm Bill overrides the FDA’s regulations, but since the FDA doesn’t seem to have the manpower to enforce it’s regulation, it’s not particularly relevant.
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Of course, just because something’s illegal at the federal level doesn’t mean it’s not being sold. For instance, marijuana is illegal but that hasn’t stopped 11 states from legalizing recreational marijuana.
If you live in a state where recreational marijuana is legal, you can purchase CBD products with higher percentages of THC than currently allowed under federal law. This can also be true in states with legal medical marijuana, although you would need to go through the process to qualify to purchase it.
If you want to follow the law, then legally the CBD products you purchase can only contain 0.3 percent THC or less. But just be aware there’s a lot of confusion, openness and blurred lines.
The Importance Of COAs
When purchasing a CBD product, make sure it always includes a COA – or Certificate of Analysis. These COA’s should be from a third party and have a comprehensive breakdown of how much CBD and THC is in a product. It should also test for the purity and safety of a product. The CBD industry is in transition and there are a lot of bad actors in the space. Always make sure the proper documentation is available so you have an extra level of clarity on what you’re buying.
Joseph has been writing and editing for a wide variety of publications over the last decade. His most notable roles were at Playboy, where he helped relaunch the iconic brand’s digital arm and Civilized — where he has written extensively about all aspects of CBD.