Both industrial hemp and marijuana are members of the cannabis family, but they are treated differently under federal law. Industrial hemp, as defined by the federal government, is cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC by weight. Marijuana is defined as any cannabis that contains more than 0.3% THC by weight.
Cannabis is filled with chemicals. Arguably the most well known of these chemicals is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Whereas THC is largely responsible for cannabis’ “high," CBD does not result in a high. Supplement manufacturers are making CBD into many forms, including oils, tinctures, pills, and lotions. Some supposed benefits of using CBD include:
If CBD oil comes from hemp, it is federally legal. If CBD oil comes from marijuana, it is federally illegal. State laws, however, vary widely.
Hemp vs. Marijuana
It depends. In terms of federal law, the legality of CBD oil depends largely on where the CBD came from and where it is being used, so it is important to understand some cannabis fundamentals.
America’s relationship with cannabis is complicated. According to federal law, cannabis — including CBD — is still predominantly illegal, although there are exceptions. Even with the continuing federal prohibition of cannabis, most U.S. states have enacted their own cannabis-related laws. As such, CBD oils reside in a legal grey area.
Every U.S. state allows for the use of cannabis in some form, but each state’s laws are different. For example, Washington state law allows residents to legally consume CBD oil for recreational purposes, whereas South Dakota state law categorizes CBD as a Schedule IV controlled substance and allows citizens to use CBD only in forms that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, e.g., Epidiolex.
Although cultures around the world have used cannabis for centuries, Americans are just now beginning to understand what cannabis and the chemical compounds in it do to the human body. Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, in particular, has become wildly popular for its alleged health benefits, but is CBD oil legal?
There’s no better example of states exercising their right to challenge federal laws than in the realm of cannabis laws.
Only in the 1970s did regulators consider the medical applications of the plant and began rolling out medical programs around the country. CBD wouldn’t be recognized as a medicinal agent for quite some time, and regulators saw all forms of the cannabis plant as a drug — including hemp.
In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act was passed in the United States, which banned marijuana from all forms of use, including medical.
1. Legal States
The endocannabinoid system is a regulatory system — meaning it indirectly controls a variety of processes in the human body by either turning them up or dialing them back down. This is why compounds like CBD have such a long list of benefits and uses.
Because the laws continue to evolve around cannabis, it’s critically important that you pay attention to the local laws in your specific state and check for updates regularly.
These states allow citizens to buy hemp-derived products but there are some caveats.
But the landscape is continually changing, each state has its own laws to work out in response to this federal change — and some are much slower than others.
A. The Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act of 1994 (AMDUCA), permits veterinarians to prescribe extralabel uses of approved human and animal drugs for animals under certain conditions. Extralabel use must comply with all the provisions of AMDUCA and its implementing regulation at 21 CFR § 530. Among other limitations, these provisions allow extralabel use of a drug only on the lawful order of a licensed veterinarian in the context of a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship and only in circumstances when the health of an animal is threatened or suffering, or death may result from failure to treat.
The agency also has approved Marinol and Syndros for therapeutic uses in the United States, including for the treatment of anorexia associated with weight loss in AIDS patients. Marinol and Syndros include the active ingredient dronabinol, a synthetic delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is considered the psychoactive component of cannabis. Another FDA-approved drug, Cesamet, contains the active ingredient nabilone, which has a chemical structure similar to THC and is synthetically derived.
1. What are cannabis and marijuana?
Children and Pregnant/Lactating Women
21. Does the FDA have concerns about administering a cannabis product to pregnant and lactating women?
The existence of substantial clinical investigations regarding THC and CBD have been made public. For example, two such substantial clinical investigations include GW Pharmaceuticals’ investigations regarding Sativex. (See Sativex Commences US Phase II/III Clinical Trial in Cancer Pain )
In addition, under 21 CFR 530.20, extralabel use of an approved human drug in a food-producing animal is not permitted if an animal drug approved for use in food-producing animals can be used in an extralabel manner for the use. In addition, under 21 CFR 530.20(b)(2), if scientific information on the human food safety aspect of the use of the approved human drug in food-producing animals is not available, the veterinarian must take appropriate measures to ensure that the animal and its food products will not enter the human food supply.
For more information on extralabel use of FDA approved drugs in animals, see Extralabel Use of FDA Approved Drugs In Animals.
 Gunn, et al. Prenatal Exposure to cannabis and maternal and child health outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open. 2016; 6:e009986.