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CBD Has An Incredibly Unique And Complex Legal Status, Being An FDA Approved Drug, A Schedule I Illegal Drug, And Completely Legal If Derived From Hemp

CBD legality

Cannabidiol (CBD) has one of the most complex legal statuses in the United States relative to other substances, since it is an FDA approved drug, a Schedule I illegal drug, and legal if derived from Hemp, as will be explained in this article. Further, analyzing the legal landscape of CBD reveals a lot about its history, and its transformation from being a completely illegal drug to a widely used supplement.

CBD is tremendously popular in the United States since it provides many of the good benefits of Cannabis such as anti-anxiety, stress relief, and analgesia while not causing an intoxicating high, and due to this CBD is used by many millions of Americans. However, CBD remains a Schedule I illegal drug on the Federal level if it is derived from ‘Marijuana’, i.e. Cannabis with THC levels above 0.3%, or if it is made in a lab.

Literally, CBD is in the same category as dangerous, highly addictive, and deadly drugs such as Cocaine and Heroin, depending on where that CBD is derived from. Of course, this makes zero sense considering the enormous benefits and safety of CBD.

In-fact, until 2018 CBD was completely illegal on a Federal level with no exceptions. This changed in June 2018 when CBD was approved as a drug by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the brand name Epidiolex, for use in two rare childhood epilepsy disorders, Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome.

When CBD comes in the form of Epidiolex it is considered a Schedule V drug, and must be prescribed by a doctor and the dosing regimen must be strictly followed.

Although the legality of Epidiolex was quite limited, it was a major milestone for Cannabis legislation in general, since it was the first time in 46 years that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) shifted their stance on a Cannabis-based compound.

It seems the approval of Epidiolex, and the official recognition that CBD had a legitimate medical use, opened the flood gates of legalization for CBD, since half a year later in December 2018 Hemp was legalized. When Hemp was legalized, which is any Cannabis which has less than 0.3% THC, all Hemp-derived CBD became legal as well.

Indeed, THC shares a similarly complex legal status to CBD, since THC is certainly a Schedule I illegal drug, but also an FDA approved drug under the brand name Dronabinol, and completely legal if contained within Hemp. The big difference between the legality of Hemp-derived CBD and THC is that CBD derived from Hemp can be purified to a concentration of 100% and still be legal, whereas THC derived from Hemp becomes illegal if it is concentrated to more than 0.3%.

Notably, even though CBD derived from Hemp is legal, there are important restrictions. CBD derived from Hemp is only considered legal if it is labeled as a cosmetic, and if CBD derived from Hemp is labeled as a dietary supplement, food ingredient, or drug, then it reverts back to being illegal. Therefore, CBD companies need to be very careful about how they brand and market their CBD products.

Thus, CBD has an incredibly complex legal status, and is both legal and illegal depending on where it is derived from, and this is a testament to it’s rapidly fluctuating legal landscape as CBD transforms from an illegal drug to a widely accepted and popular substance.