CBD & The Human Body
Science & Health
It’s no surprise that so many people are asking whether CBD derived from hemp is legal. You see CBD products everywhere, yet they seem to have some kind of stigma attached to them because of the association with marijuana.
The answer to “Is CBD Legal?’ is “Yes!”
Note, we are covering only CBD derived from industrial hemp, which is a species of the Cannabis plant but does not get you high. Because CBD is such a young industry that’s moving so quickly, the regulations haven’t quite caught up to the market yet. But don’t worry, they will.
Hemp’s Legal History
A quick overview of the history of hemp in the US is useful in understanding how we got to where we are today. Growing hemp was outlawed in the US for many decades despite the fact that it is non-intoxicating because it was lumped together with marijuana because they are both subspecies of the cannabis plant genus. Learn more about the difference between hemp and marijuana.
We will skip the middle part and fast forward straight to the revolutionary Farm Bill of 2018, which changed everything by legalizing hemp at the federal level as long as it has only trace amounts (0.3%) of THC. Hemp was finally taken off the list of federally banned substances and reclassified as an agricultural product. The new law was a massive breakthrough because it finally severed hemp from marijuana at the federal level.
You would think the story ends there. Not quite. First off, some states still have restrictive CBD laws on the books. Secondly, the new law ostensibly took away the authority of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) over hemp and moved it over to the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
So what has happened is CBD has found itself in a no man’s land between these state and federal laws and different regulatory agencies. This is where things have gotten hazy, although to be fair, the government is working to figure it out.
Laws about marijuana differ from state to state but CBD is legal in all 50 states. Because hemp contains less than 0.3% THC it is legal federally and therefore it’s the best source of CBD, making the extraction process is simpler, which means more of the beneficial compounds remain in the product. Therefore, CBD derived from the hemp plant and not the marijuana plant is most often the preferable option.
With the passage of the Farm Bill, the FDA is now in charge of regulating all CBD-infused goods. This is because the FDA’s purview is food safety, dietary supplements, prescription and over-the-counter meds, and cosmetics, in addition to some other categories.
Since CBD is infused not just in oils but also in foodstuffs, supplements, and cosmetics, the FDA now calls the shots on CBD. Here’s the rub: The FDA issued a statement saying that adding CBD to food products and dietary supplements is prohibited. Which, as you probably noticed, hasn’t seemed to stop anybody.
The FDA is specifically chagrined about some companies claiming CBD has therapeutic benefits since any health claims must be first approved by the FDA. This means all those health claims you read everywhere are unsubstantiated by the federal government agency whose job it is to substantiate them.
However, the future is bright. The FDA has stated it is looking for pathways to clear the way for legal CBD products derived from hemp. It has also signaled that a law passed by Congress, and not a lengthy product-by-product regulation process by the FDA, is the best path forward.
So, while hemp farming and CBD extraction may have been green-lit by Congress, there are still many regulatory decisions that need to be made before there is total clarity on the legal status of CBD products.
Hemp is now designated as a Schedule 5 Controlled Substance by the DEA since the end of 2018, whereas It’s fellow cannabinoid, THC, and Marijuana are still designated as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substances.
Rest of the World
Industrial hemp is legal in over 30 countries and counting. The United Nations has taken the lead in recommending that CBD is beneficial for the world’s population and safe for consumption. That is seen by many as the first step in revising international treaties to legalize hemp.
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