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Is CBD Oil Legal [Ultimate Guide 2019]

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There is no short answer to this question. According to People Magazine, the government lifted a nationwide ban on the plant. It’s no longer a controlled substance. This leaves the ultimate decision to the states.

Hemp-derived CBD, though, is legal in all 50 states. Marijuana-based CBD still isn’t federally legal. The cannabis family includes both marijuana and hemp. However, the government classifies marijuana as any cannabis that includes more than 0.3% THC. Anything containing under that is classified as hemp. So, is it legal?

In short, it depends on the type of plant that made your oil. 

Fortunately, most CBD products tend to come from hemp plants. That’s because marijuana plants contain a lot less CBD than hemp plants. So rest assured, the CBD oil you’re buying is probably legal. Make sure to check the origin when you buy it. 

In order for companies to make CBD products from marijuana plants, they would need to extract the higher amounts of THC (also to stay within the legal limits). This isn’t very practical in terms of cost and time.

Therefore, most companies tend to opt for hemp-cannabis. Hemp-cannabis contains much higher concentrations of CBD. It also contains very little THC, which basically makes them the more efficient option.

So at the end of the day, oil extracted from hemp is legal. If it’s extracted from marijuana, and your state has legalized marijuana, it’s legal. If your oil is extracted from marijuana and you’re in a state where marijuana is illegal, it is illegal.

Where is CBD oil legal?

Because of the 2018 Farm Bill, any CBD oil, without THC, is legal in any of the 50 states. You read that correctly; CBD oil is now, according to federal law, legal in each and every single state in the nation. Having said this, the change might take a while to fully take effect and for all states to embrace CBD.

In this article, we give you a guide on the jurisdiction in your state and with different judicial bodies.

There are four basic categories we can group states into:

Friendliest states

These states have passed laws that explicitly let vendors manufacture and sell any hemp-derived product. These can include tincture, CBD oil, and other hemp-derived medicine you can purchase. You don’t just drink good whiskey in Tennessee, you can also legally sell hemp-derived products. Another very friendly state is Vermont, of course. Oregon, Rhode Island and Alaska among many others including New York fall under the friendly state umbrella.

Friendly states

In these states, there are certain compliances and jurisdictions farms and grows need to follow in order to not fall under the marijuana definition. These states include the nation's capital, Washington D.C., Hawaii, New Mexico, and a few others.

Gray Area States

These are states that don’t have explicit laws prohibiting the selling or purchasing of any CBD- product that is derived from hemp. They do however need some jumping through loopholes to argue the exemption that they are legal. In other words, they’re neither legal nor illegal. A lot of these states are in the south like Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Serious states

So while they don’t really have an explicit prohibition, they’re risky. Recent statements have shown that selling industrial CBD products runs a risk with the authorities.

These states include Alabama, California and Nevada as well as Ohio, the Dakotas and Wyoming.

What about drug tests?

Does it come up?

We know a lot of us might need to take a substance test from time to time. Wouldn’t it be terrible to not pass one for having used a CBD-based product?

Drug tests have become pretty common nowadays; for professional athletes, teachers, even to enter high school or college. A lot of these tests are made to check for illegal substances, sometimes prescription medications. They can be done through urine, saliva, blood and even hair.

These tests are all different, and show different levels of any substance. The most common test, though, is the urine test.

A general urine test for weed is essentially a series of antibodies added to your urine that intermingle with and reveal THC. THC is what makes you high when you smoke weed.

What does this mean?

So these tests aren’t designed to detect CBD. Meaning that if you use certified products you shouldn’t at all be concerned or worried about drug tests.

Of course, amounts make a difference. For example, a person who’s an extremely high user – such as 1g per day – would be exposing themselves to about 3mg of THC every day. That is a high enough amount to show on a basic drug test.

If you’re about to take a drug test, it may be safer to only buy CBD oil products that are trustworthy and have good reviews. Although they may cost more, they minimize or eliminate the humiliation of not passing a basic drug screen.

So is it legal or not? I’m confused.

  • Hemp-based CBD is federally legal
  • Marijuana-based CBD is not federally legal
  • The difference between one and the other is the amount of THC.
  • THC-high plants are classified as marijuana
  • CBD-high plants, classified as hemp, typically contain little to no THC
  • You should always check the restrictions that are specific to your state
  • You want to make sure to order good products from a trusted CBD oil company

A little more explanation

It’s complex to talk about the legality of CBD-based products that are sourced from the same plant family. Because marijuana is still federally illegal, but legalized in various states, the lines aren’t very clear.

When President Obama was re-elected in 2012, both Colorado and Washington not only decriminalized but also legalized marijuana. Possession, retail, purchase, and manufacture forms were legalized. Four other states, including California and Maine, followed the same footsteps in 2016. In 2018, Vermont joined the same side of history.

Right now, adult users can legally purchase, sell, grow and consume marijuana products in ten states. On the West Coast you’ve got California, Washington and Oregon. On the East Coast you’ve got Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine. Also Michigan, Alaska, Colorado and Nevada.

Furthermore, medicinal marijuana is legal in 33 states.

Even CBD products that are legally produced and comply with state law and are made and used by and sold to adults, are illegal under federal law. This is both within states as well as across state lines.

This is very important to remember as a consumer. There are countless myths about CBD. It really depends on the plant, on the state, and on whether you’re dealing with the state or federal authorities.

Thanks to last year’s Farm Bill, CBD-based products will become much more accessible and easier to obtain. Under this bill, it is the consumer’s responsibility to research and buy their products from a trusted CBD oil company.



  1. Atakan, Zerrin. “Cannabis, a Complex Plant: Different Compounds and Different Effects on Individuals.” Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, SAGE Publications, Dec. 2012,
  2. “Does CBD Oil Have Health Benefits - and Is It Legal?”,
  3. “FDA Clarifies Position on CBD After Passage of 2018 Farm Bill: Hall Render.” Law Firm | Health Care Law Firm in the USA | Hall Render, 18 Jan. 2019,
  4. Hudak, John, and John Hudak. “The Farm Bill, Hemp Legalization and the Status of CBD: An Explainer.” Brookings, Brookings, 13 Dec. 2018,
  5. “National Institute of Food and Agriculture.” Industrial Hemp | National Institute of Food and Agriculture,

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