Is CBD Federally Legal?

In recent years, Cannabidiol (CBD) has emerged as a popular wellness supplement, with users touting its potential benefits for various conditions. However, the legal status of CBD in the United States has been a subject of confusion and debate. To understand the federal legality of CBD, it’s crucial to delve into the legislative history, key regulations, and recent developments surrounding this compound.

is cbd federally legal

Historical Context

The legal status of CBD is closely tied to the broader regulatory framework governing cannabis in the United States. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970 classified cannabis, including marijuana, as a Schedule I controlled substance. This categorization implied that marijuana had a high potential for abuse and lacked accepted medical use.

CBD, being a cannabinoid found in both marijuana and hemp, faced legal ambiguity for many years due to its association with cannabis. However, a significant turning point occurred with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.

2018 Farm Bill: A Game-Changer

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly known as the 2018 Farm Bill, marked a pivotal moment for the CBD industry. This legislation federally legalized the cultivation and production of hemp, defined as cannabis containing no more than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive compound in marijuana.

The 2018 Farm Bill explicitly removed hemp from the definition of marijuana in the CSA, effectively declassifying it as a controlled substance. This laid the groundwork for the legal cultivation, processing, and sale of hemp-derived products, including CBD.

Key Provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill

The 2018 Farm Bill not only legalized hemp but also set the stage for a regulated hemp industry. Several key provisions include:

Hemp Definition: The bill clearly defined hemp as cannabis containing 0.3% THC or less on a dry weight basis. Cannabis exceeding this threshold was still considered marijuana and remained illegal at the federal level.

State Authority: The bill granted states the authority to regulate hemp production within their borders. States could submit plans to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for approval, outlining their approach to licensing, testing, and other regulatory aspects.

THC Testing Standards: The 2018 Farm Bill mandated the establishment of testing standards for THC concentration in hemp. This was crucial for ensuring compliance with the 0.3% THC limit.

Research Opportunities: The legislation facilitated hemp research by removing restrictions on its cultivation and allowed for greater access to federal funding for hemp-related research.

is cbd federally legal

CBD Products and Regulation

While the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp-derived CBD, the regulatory landscape for CBD products remains complex. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plays a central role in overseeing the safety and marketing of these products.

FDA’s Stance: The FDA has maintained that CBD cannot be marketed as a dietary supplement or added to food and beverages without its approval. The agency also expressed concerns about the potential risks associated with prolonged use and the lack of standardized manufacturing processes for CBD products.

Enforcement Actions: Despite the federal legalization of hemp-derived CBD, the FDA has taken enforcement actions against companies making unsubstantiated health claims or selling products with inaccurate CBD content.

Consumer Awareness: Consumers must be vigilant when purchasing CBD products. Third-party testing, transparent labeling, and adherence to good manufacturing practices are critical factors to consider when evaluating the quality and safety of CBD products.

State-by-State Variances

While the 2018 Farm Bill established a federal framework for hemp cultivation, states retain the authority to enact their own regulations. Consequently, there are variations in how states approach the production and sale of CBD products.

State Hemp Programs: Many states have implemented hemp programs in line with the USDA guidelines, allowing for the legal cultivation and processing of hemp within their borders.

CBD in Food and Beverages: State regulations regarding the inclusion of CBD in food and beverages vary. Some states have embraced these products, while others maintain restrictions similar to the FDA’s stance.

Licensing and Testing: States have differing requirements for licensing hemp-related businesses and testing CBD products for potency and contaminants. It is essential for businesses and consumers to be aware of and comply with state-specific regulations.


The federal legality of CBD has evolved significantly with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. Hemp-derived CBD is no longer classified as a controlled substance, paving the way for a burgeoning industry. However, challenges persist at the federal level, with the FDA’s regulatory stance creating a complex landscape for CBD products.

Navigating the legal intricacies of CBD requires a thorough understanding of both federal and state regulations. Consumers and businesses alike must stay informed about the evolving nature of CBD laws to ensure compliance and contribute to the continued growth of this promising industry. As legislative and regulatory developments unfold, the future of CBD in the United States will likely witness further refinement and clarification.