I use CBD. Is that illegal?
Is CBD legal?
This is an incredibly complicated question to answer. Many eCommerce websites and brick and mortar stores will claim that CBD is legal in all 50 states, but this isn’t exactly true. It is still a bit of a gray area, and you must look at the question from several different angles.
Federally, industrial hemp was recently (2018) made legal to grow and sell when the 2018 Farm Bill was passed.
There was an earlier farm bill (2014) that also made it legal for certain farmers to grow industrial hemp, primarily if it was for research purposes. Obviously, this is fairly constraining. The new Farm Bill is far more beneficial to the hemp — and CBD — market.
This is a bit trickier as each state has its own regulations around cannabis products. Some states have legalized marijuana for both recreational and medical purposes. These states have the most lenient and clear laws around CBD.
Other states have made marijuana and CBD legal with a medical prescription from a licensed doctor. In these states, CBD is technically not legal if you do not have a prescription.
Yet other states have not legalized cannabis at all. In these states you cannot even purchase it with a prescription.
Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has designated (almost all) CBD — and all cannabis — as Schedule 1 drugs. According to the DEA’s definition, “Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote.” It seems very odd to put CBD in the same classification as heroin, but strangely it is.
In September of 2018, the DEA took some Cannabidiol off this list. The newly rescheduled drugs include “finished dosage formulations” of CBD with THC below 0.1%. These will now be considered Schedule 5 drugs, as long as the medications have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). You will see the irony in this when you read the next section.
While this is the first time the agency has removed any type of cannabis from Schedule 1, it is not a full win for Cannabidiol. Currently, only Epidiolex (mentioned in an earlier section as a treatment for some forms of epilepsy) satisfies the requirements. The hope is that the change could eventually affect other CBD formulations.
It is important to note that even Schedule 5 drugs are illegal without a prescription. The DEA says Schedule 5 drugs have a low potential for abuse. They are generally medicines such as pain relievers and antidiarrheal medications.
Despite the current designation of most CBD formulations as Schedule 1 drugs, a spokesperson for the DEA recently said that because we are in an “opioid crisis,” the DEA is not looking to enforce the laws around Cannabidiol. CBD is extremely low on their priority list.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The FDA has not approved CBD for use in any medicine, supplement or food product, with the exception of Epidiolex as mentioned above. This is not a gray area at all. CBD is not approved by the FDA.
Can I take CBD on a plane?
We would not advise taking CBD on a plane. Could you get away with it? Most likely there are ways to travel via plane with CBD and not have any issues. However, due to the varied and convoluted laws regarding CBD, you would be taking a risk by traveling with it.
If you want to learn more about the legalities of CBD, listen to this podcast.