Are CBD products legal in the US: A State Guide?

April 14, 2019

CBD products have now become one of the best sought medication in recent times. This has been possible only after a lot of legal struggle. The struggle has been real & has seen a whole round of tough time altogether since it was discovered. It is hence being regarded as the next big thing in the herbal medication line with high hopes because it is already catering a plethora of problems like arthritis, epilepsy, seizures, hypertension, cancer related nausea & vomiting, pain relief, muscle strain, etc. In many problems, research isn?t that concrete, but it is being seen that the benefits are on the positive side in most cases.

Keeping all this into consideration, people often turn to a question ? are CBD products legal in my country?

Since it is the legality we are talking about, there?s a lot to be careful regarding. Let?s find out.


CBD is a phytocannabinoid derived from Hemp & Marijuana plant. It covers 40% of the extracted content of the plant which houses around 104 other extracts & lies second due to its percentage. The first & prime share in the marijuana plants is occupied by THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the component responsible for contributing to the ?high & intoxicating? feeling associated with Cannabis use. This often puts CBD in the wrong zone for the people & they think that since it is a sister compound of THC, CBD also has the trance influence on the senses of the user.

Talking about the history of CBD, it has been there with the human civilization for a long time span of over 4000 years. Chinese Emperor Shen Neng had a lot of faith in it & used to drink tea of Cannabis leaves regularly. He even accounted for the medicinal powers of cannabis & believed that Cannabis improves memory, gout, pain, etc in his text Pen Ts?au which is still referred to quite often by many in Chinese medicine.

Also, when the Romans started hunting for expansion in North Africa, Europe & Asia, they found their hands on hemp in many of these regions as it had spread from China & India. A Greek physician was also with the campaigners in this journey named Pedanius Dioscorides who had also mentioned the wonders of Cannabis plant in his book Materia Medica. The book includes the mention of over 600 herbs & their spectrum of positive effects. Thus, it gives us a clear idea that cannabis has been with humanity for a long time. It is believed to be discovered in China & India having spread through Egyptian, Arabic & African regions.

Coming to medieval history, in the 15th & 16th century, it was compulsory for farmers to grow hemp on their farms not just in England but also in American colonies. It was used to manufacture textiles, papers, clothes, ropes, etc.

After this span, Cannabis went a bit underground & wasn?t much in the words. The phytocannabinoid component ? CBD was then discovered in 1940 by Dr. Roger Adams & his team at the University of Illinois. However, they were not sure of what they had discovered & hence it was not until after that Dr. Raphael Mechoulam discovered it & decoded its atomic structure still continues to be extracted from the flowers & buds of marijuana or hemp plants. CBD was discovered as a non-psychoactive constituent of cannabis. This claim was what fuelled the entry of CBD back in the human civilization with speed. In 1980, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam made another claim based on a study that CBD helps in the treatment of epilepsy that concretized CBD as a medical herb.


CBD is the sister compound of THC & is derived from marijuana & hemp plants. It is a phytocannabinoid & its volume of presence depends completely on the plant it is present in, i.e., if it is marijuana or hemp. The content of CBD in hemp or industrial hemp is much greater compared to marijuana. While hemp has limited quantity of THC in it in concentrations going as low as 0.3%, in marijuana, THC is present as the highest share.

So why was it considered illegal so far? Let?s crack it down by going back in 1930.

During 1930s, Marijuana Prohibition was shoved down the throats of the society by the then government. It was a highly controversial thing as one of the then top government official even admitted himself that all things about the prohibition were lies & this led to a conclusion that the claims of passing a law that was actually to get the job easy of arresting people of color & anti-war activists. It was since then that the world was told about the harms of marijuana which eventually led to its ban. Misinformation from the anti-marijuana smear campaigns led to deep-seated fears & misunderstandings in the minds of the common man that continue to exist even today & not just the people but government officials as well.

The ill-effects of marijuana went on a high end propaganda. Yes, there were harms but there were benefits too. However, since the negativity was passed on from generation to generation & there wasn?t so much of awareness, cannabis became the eventual villain. CBD is derived from plants which are derivatives of the cannabis family itself. Thus, the negativity spread automatically & it was made illegal for the simple reason of its association with cannabis family. Yes, as simple as that. It was thought to have abuse potential & hence was made illegal thinking that since it is related to THC, it is going to be the same in nature.

Thus, it can be understood that it is only a fruit of bad propaganda for hatred & some obstinacy despite misconception.


Carrying forward from where we left in the previous section, we will enlighten you about the difference in CBD form both plants. The major difference comes in the content of the cannabinoids in both plants. While Hemp is intentionally grown for industrial & medicinal purposes, the content of CBD remains high in it. THC content is minimal based on the legal practices of the country & may go as low as 0.2%. For America, it shouldn?t be more than 0.3% of THC in hemp. When we talk about marijuana, it is cultivated mainly for recreational purpose but has medical properties too. THC content matters here as more the THC, more the intoxication & hence CBD from marijuana will have high traces of THC. The problem hence becomes simple to identify. THC is a psychoactive phytocannabinoid. Thus, it makes the user feel teleported to another dimension & gets him/her high. This high is the reason why people enjoy marijuana so much & it is the same reason that has made marijuana an object of immense misuse due to which it has been declared illegal despite having medical benefits.

CBD from marijuana will hence induce the high in the user & also make him get used to it due to the presence of THC. However, this being said, we can?t undermine the fact that THC also has a variety of medical benefits under its umbrella but again, the high or trance that it creates alongside the dependence makes users wary of it.

From here, we get to understand that CBD from hemp has extremely low levels of THC which also go undetected in tests if CBD is ingested in moderate dosage. This gives us a fair idea that the amount of THC carried by hemp is so minimal that it is only present for name.


CBD is non-psychoactive unlike its sister compound THC. The way things have turned out for marijuana was propaganda but the things stated were not wrong entirely. It is surely a fact that marijuana causes a high & is also addictive but, it is also important to keep in mind that THC is also a home to medical benefits just like CBD. In fact, though THC was discovered after CBD, yet it has come forward a long way much before CBD & stood as a good painkiller for long. The only negative part was the fact that it led to the release of dopamine after entering the system in the ?pleasure areas? of the brain. This gave the brain not just a sense of high but also the regular activity of dopamine release got the brain addicted for it.

The above phenomenon can be explained in a simple way. Our body has its own system of generating cannabinoids known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). This system maintains homeostasis in the body & also controls the working of various functions like pain, appetite, immune system response, memory, etc. This system hinges on the binding of the eCBs or the Endocannabinoids with the two main endocannabinoid receptors ? CB1 & CB2 receptors. While THC binds with the CB1 receptors, CBD binds with the CB2 receptors. The release of dopamine is triggered by the CB1 receptors.

Since our body doesn?t produce enough cannabinoids, the binding process sometimes malfunctions & requires balance. This is served by the introduction of THC & CBD in our system (based on the requirements). This way, they balance the binding process & hence the ECS works properly.

CBD being a cousin of THC is doubted with same eyes that it?ll cause intoxication. But in reality there?s no chance of it since CBD?s territory is with the CB2 receptors which has nothing to do with dopamine release & hence no addiction is produced. This is the same reason why CBD doesn?t make you high since it doesn?t release anything in the system of that sort.

So, the answer is that it?s completely correct that CBD doesn?t cause a high while THC does.


No wonder, the struggle has paid off due to the introduction of Farm Bill which has legalised industrial hemp in all of America?s 50 states. But, there are confusions regarding the status of CBD. CBD is not illegal in any state in the USA as far as it is derived from hemp with less than 0.3%, it?ll be considered as that of Marijuana derived CBD. There are four different zones that the states lie in based on the status of CBD & the Farm Bill categories:

  1. ?????Friendliest States

These jurisdictions allow retailers to sell industrial hemp-derived products with full swing of the axe.


Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont & Wisconsin.

  1. ?????Friendly States

In states with these jurisdictions, industrial hemp which is grown in compliance with the Farm Bill agricultural pilot program is entirely crossed out from the definition of marijuana.


The District of Columbia, Hawaii, Kansas, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota & Oklahoma.

  1. ?????Grey Area States

States where jurisdictions make clear prohibitions against the retail sale of industrial hemp based product but have exemptions in the law for the argument that hemp-derived CBD products are legal according to federal laws.


Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia & Washington.

  1. ?????States with Concern

These jurisdictions have no explicit prohibitions against the sale of industrial hemp-derived CBD products. However, recent law enforcement actions or pronouncements raise the risk of the retail sale of industrial hemp-derived CBD products.


Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, South Dakota, West Virginia & Wyoming.


With a proper knowledge on the legality of CBD in the states across USA, it is important to also know the quality of CBD that you are getting since it is isn?t just the legality status that matters for you but the quality as well. Hence, it is of utmost importance to keep in mind the following things while picking up your CBD product:

  1. How much THC the product has?

    CBD has been seen to have better effect due to the entourage effect of other cannabinoids too, specially THC. Thus, it is necessary to know the content of other cannabinoids too.

    If you?re a person who needs high dose of it, then CBD isolate based product is best for you because high dose CBD will make THC high in your body as well which might lead you to failing a drug test.
  2. Find products where the hemp?s cultivation place is listed

    Colorado is known for the best hemp in the country & so is Kentucky. In the former, live on-site checking is performed by authorities from time to time which ensures good quality hemp & hence good quality CBD. When buying CBD products, you can see the place from where hemp has was used. In case it?s not mentioned, you can always ask the retailer or go through the website as there, you?ll surely have a clue.

    Also, refrain from out of the country brands since the products ingredients might not be in compliance with the ones down here. Don?t buy as there?s no surety in their quality.
  3. Ask for Certificate of Analysis

    Most good companies & brand go transparent by lab reports from third-party labs to assure consumers of pure legal CBD without any contaminants. They are well aware that the field is new & people are a bit hesitant without proof. As a consumer, you can always ask for it. In case the company doesn?t provide you with one or doesn?t have one, don?t buy since such a brand can?t be trusted.
  4. See the amount & composition

    Every CBD product will have the composition listed of the ingredients. This allows you to have a detailed knowledge on what you are having or buying & also your physician. This way you can even choose from full spectrum & broad spectrum CBD products as well as CBD isolate products.

    Some of them even mention the extraction process. In case the extraction method is mentioned, always go for the one where superficial CO2 extraction method is listed. That?s because this method ensures the best quality CBD extract free from contaminants. You might find the product a bit costly, but, there?s no compromise with quality here.


Hence, it is a reason for joy for all of us that CBD is a legal thing now due to the Farm Bill. It is hence now easier to buy it & use compared to previous ones. Though the state-law structure varies in all states, yet the silver lining is the fact that this way or that way, we are going to have our CBD product. But, before buying, we should all be careful regarding various things like presence of propylene glycol in vape pens which causes asthma & eye & nose irritation. Likewise, if you are on any sort of medication, then make sure you use it after proper consultation with the doctor as CBD & drugs go for a fight together in terms of metabolisation in the liver where one of these two loses & hence the effect may be something which we never expected. The side-effects are not serious, but that doesn?t mean that we shall be completely free. After all, prevention is better than cure!

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