CBD is everywhere. From food and beverages to pharmaceutical drugs, the natural compound is the hottest name in the health and wellness industry. Despite this widespread availability, CBD is at the center of several legal grey areas.
CBD is available in the form of many products. We have tinctures, edibles, oils, pills, and a whole host of other options.
After the passing of the farm bill 2018, the FDA permitted the sale and distribution of these products. But, things aren’t that straightforward. There are several restrictions and guidelines you need to ensure for the safe and legal consumption of cannabidiol. In this article, we’ll try to cover them all and nudge you in the right direction. So, here goes…
Federal Legality of CBD
At the federal levels, two forms of the cannabis plant have won recognition: hemp and marijuana. Hemp, especially, has the upper hand over other varieties because it contains large amounts of CBD — the non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.
On the other hand, marijuana contains THC, which is intoxicating and therefore causes a high.
THC has also been linked to adverse side effects, such as hallucinations and delirium. According to federal guidelines, CBD extracted from marijuana is illegal. This is because the marijuana plant contains high levels of THC (more than 30%). The legally permitted amount of THC is .3%. Anything beyond this could land you in trouble.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies THC as a Schedule I drug. In FDA terms, this means that the compound has no medicinal value and increased potential for substance abuse.
In 2018, the Farm Bill or the Agricultural Act created specific regulations for hemp farmers.
The law clearly stated that any compound sourced from the hemp plant would be legal as long as the hemp produced complies with the farm-bill associated federal regulations.
Farmers also need to have a license to grow hemp on a large scale. This means that if you grow hemp as an unlicensed farmer, no matter how strictly you follow the farm bill’s regulations, you could be legally penalized.
One thing to keep in mind is that the FDA has not approved CBD’s use as a nutritional supplement or ingredient, which means CBD can’t be sold or advertised as a natural supplement with therapeutic effects.
The only CBD based prescription drug we have right now is Epidiolex. Epidiolex is used to treat pediatric epileptic disorders — Lennox Gastraut syndrome and Dravet Syndrome.
So, where does this place all the CBD oils, pills, and tinctures we have available on the market that are supposed to relieve pain and anxiety? The FDA is still not sure about this market activity. According to the authority, there isn’t enough research to suggest that CBD is safe or effective for medical conditions. FDA is looking into the possibility of giving CBD this power. The authority held a public hearing to discuss this in July 2019.
In the meantime, the FDA hasn’t hit hard on violators. The regulatory authority considers many factors before cracking down on a CBD company, including resources and severity of the threat.
What State Laws Say About the Legality of CBD?
Although hemp-based CBD is legal at the federal level, state laws vary. Many states have not updated their policies in lieu of federal regulations, which has created confusion and controversy.
One example of this is the state of Colorado. Colorado greenlit the use of any hemp plant part as a food ingredient. In comparison, any products, even if they’re hemp-based, are illegal in Texas.
The best way to familiarize yourself with CBD state laws is to study cannabis laws in a particular state. Some resources can help with this. These include:
- National Conference of State Legislatures,
- Marijuana Policy Project
- National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
Finding the Legality CBD products
Although the legality of CBD products varies from country to country. In the US, federal and state laws still somewhat inconsistent. Finding the right CBD product requires a bit of effort. The CBD industry is mostly unregulated, which is why experts suggest digging into product labels and manufacturer transparency before making a purchase. Here’s what you need to figure out:
- Origin of Hemp: Search for products grown in the United States. In the U.S., there are strict laws to ensure mass CBD production is according to state and federal laws. Therefore, the likelihood of the end product being safe to use is more. The rules and regulations are lax or completely lacking in other countries, and riddled with loopholes farmers can easily exploit.
- Always go for a vendor that supports independent third-party lab testing. With a publicly available CBD lab report, you know exactly what your product contains, including total CBD concentration, pesticides, and heavy metals. A trusted company also has a certificate of analysis, which is proof of independent third-party lab testing. In some states, finding the COA is as easy as ABC. For example, in Indiana, CBD products have a Q.R. code on their packaging, allowing users to download the COA directly to their cellphones.
- Testing Methods: When going through the COA, make sure the lab fulfills ISO standards. The testing protocols also need to be authenticated by any of the following regulatory institutions: the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia, Association of Official Agricultural Chemists, or the U.S. Pharmacopeia.
- Potency: The COA should confirm the amount of CBD and THC advertised on the packaging.
CBD has the potential to be the next big thing in the pharmaceutical industry. But, the problem remains: CBD science is still in its infancy. Most of the studies suggesting the compound has medical benefits are preliminary, i.e. based on animal models. The only approved pharmaceutical drug that has been tested on humans with great success is Epidiolex. Although the World Health Organization has confirmed that CBD has an excellent safety profile and doesn’t pose any threat for abuse, it’s better to practice caution. CBD may interact with other drugs and also cause mild side effects. Before choosing any CBD product, make sure you consult your doctor and a legal professional to protect yourself from any unwanted pitfalls.