When President Trump signed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly known as the 2018 Farm Bill, into law on December 20th of last year, the final piece of the hemp-legality puzzle finally fell into place. Up to that point, hemp and its commercially viable byproducts—including cannabidiol (CBD)—had been consigned to a federal and state legal gray area that frustrated growers, manufacturers, and consumers alike. However, CBD enthusiasts found a (perhaps unexpected) ally last year in GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. His staunch support of the bill and its resulting hemp legalization is largely credited with pushing the legislation through to its signing.
Playing the percentages: a legal numbers game
With the passing of the bill, the murky waters around CBD legality have mainly cleared and the prohibitive “seed to sale” clause that long frustrated commercial CBD vendors has gone. This clause, which forced CBD products to exist in legal limbo for many years, stated that any product derived from the cannabis plant, including cannabidiol, could not be legally transported across state lines. However, hemp products—including CBD-rich supplement oils and products—were considered perfectly legal for use, as long as the hemp itself was imported from an international source.
The 2018 legislation allows for broad commercial hemp cultivation and removes the restrictions around the transportation of hemp-derived products—including CBD—across state lines. In fact, the Farm Bill specifically places absolutely no restrictions on the possession, transport or sale of hemp-derived products on a federal level, so long as the products themselves comply with a very straightforward set of restrictions.
First, for CBD and other hemp-derived products to be federally categorized as “legal,” they must be derived from a cannabis plant which contains less than .3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Hemp, which is derived from the cannabis sativa plant, falls under this low-THC category. Marijuana, which is derived from the THC-rich cannabis indica plant, is merely the common and legal name for any cannabis containing amounts of THC higher than .3 percent. Basically, the legislation protects hemp, not marijuana.
Second, hemp growers, cultivators, and producers are subject to tight regulation under the new law. Section 10113 calls for states to present their regulatory plans to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). If they do not do so, the federal government will put a federally-run regulatory program in place, and violators may face felony charges.
Finally, CBD itself has now been removed from the Schedule I list of controlled substances. Now, cannabidiol is considered to be legal in every state, although it is still subject to controls by the FDA and must be produced in a manner consistent with the Farm Bill. All other cannabinoids, produced in any other setting, remain a Schedule I substance under federal law and are thus illegal where state law does not specify (The one exception is pharmaceutical-grade CBD products that have been approved by FDA).
Broadly speaking, what this means is that CBD products that are derived from hemp are perfectly legal in all 50 states…full stop, end of issue. However, CBD products which have been derived from the marijuana-classified cannabis plant are still considered Class I controlled substances in some states, even if they are completely isolated from the plant’s mind-altering THC compound.
CBD, hemp, marijuana and the law… oh, my!
Many states have specific laws on the books relating to marijuana-derived CBD products (those from cannabis indica), making its legality a confusing issue. But a handful of states has led the charge of legalization, and allow both CBD derivations to be grown, cultivated and used indiscriminately. As of 2018, these states were Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Vermont, Oregon, and Washington.
Thirty-three states have legalized cannabis for medical use—including CBD products that are derived from cannabis indica. However, none of these state laws are recognized or protected under federal law, including the 2018 Farm Bill, which specifically does not resolve this state-by-state issue.
Going forward, it will be more important than ever to ensure that the CBD products consumers purchase come from legal, legitimate producers who comply with the federally mandated regulations in the Act.
CBD and THC: the new frontier?
The benefits of CBD are becoming more widely accepted by the month, and not just as a dietary supplement. Even the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has officially reported on established, scientifically approved links between reputable CBD products and health benefits for everything from chronic pain to inflammation. And in June 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially approved its first cannabis-derived drug: Epidiolex. This is a CBD oral solution for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Importantly, the FDA’s Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, MD, also released an official statement praising CBD and its role in advancing critical therapies for medical conditions.
As acceptance and approval of hemp-derived CBD increases, medical research into the benefits of medical marijuana, including THC, continues. Several studies have already confirmed, for example, that a combination of CBD and THC is an effective arthritis and multiple-sclerosis pain fighter. In fact, Sativex, an oral spray including both compounds, has already been approved in several countries to treat these chronic conditions.
So far, patient study results are very positive. Further, early studies into CBD/THC pain relief protocols have shown that they may reduce nausea and pain associated with chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. More research is ongoing to confirm the safety and efficacy of these treatments, but initial results have proved very exciting to scientists in the field and the patients whom they serve.
CBD: looking over the horizon
There’s no doubt that this is an exciting time in the CBD story. With the passing of the Farm Bill, reputable CBD products have emerged from their legal limbo and seem set to reach a quickly broadening consumer audience. Further, increasing acceptance of CBD’s usefulness and efficacy by respected medical professionals means that more consumers are feeling confident about trying CBD products.
Of course, there are still CBD producers, growers, and suppliers who don’t follow the mandates of the bill and are operating outside of the law. Their products are neither legal nor properly regulated. This is great news for consumers, who can feel good that the CBD products they purchase from licensed, regulated vendors really are top quality. It’s equally great news for product producers. Now that the hard work of reassuring customers about the quality of their collections has been done for them by the U.S. government, they can focus on what is important to everyone: helping people look and feel their best through top-notch beauty and wellness products containing CBD.
CBD For Life produces high quality CBD products because we believe in the value that they bring to the lives of our consumers. Rest assured, our operations are entirely legal! Reach out to us today, or share your questions, comments, and thoughts with us on social media.