Is CBD Legal in the United States in 2021?

There has been a lot of hype surrounding the myriad of health benefits of CBD. You’re probably pretty excited to try out a CBD tincture to start your day or a CBD muscle rub to relieve that annoying back pain. You may find yourself thinking "Finally, there’s a solution to many of my nagging problems!"

But hold your horses. It is essential to understand the laws surrounding CBD in your state. While it is legal at the federal level, things get a bit blurry once you get into the details. After all, the devil is always in the details.

Legality of CBD

Until recently, cannabidiol (CBD) was put in the same Schedule 1 category of drugs as heroin by federal drug laws. That was until the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill 2018) was signed into law in December 2018. The bill legalized hemp products that contained no more than 0.3% THC, such as CBD.

While cannabis continues to be a Schedule 1 drug under federal law, at least not every cannabis product in the market is considered so. In May 2018, the Department of Justice released a directive that argued that products and materials from cannabis fall outside the Controlled Substances Act. Therefore, CBD products are not subject to CSA control.

Along with the widening legalization of cannabis throughout America in more and more states, we might see things change for the better. However, even with growing support, the reality is that things are still quite confusing for many people.

The Fuzziness of CBD Legality

Purchasing CBD products is legal on the federal level, as long as it does not contain more than 0.3% THC. However, some states have devised their own restrictions for this blossoming new sector.

Even the states that are most staunchly against the production of CBD have finally joined the rest of the nation. For example, Idaho recently finalized a bill to legalize the production of hemp in the state, along with CBD. And things get more complicated for sellers since the FDA has prohibited the marketing of CBD products as a dietary supplement. The FDA can go after any business that makes health claims about CBD, which is the very thing that most people are taking CBD for in the first place. It is common for the FDA to issue warning letters to violators who make claims about CBD products or market them as a dietary supplement. 

However, the recent introduction of H.R. 841 aims to change that and further normalize the marketing and sale of CBD products. In the meantime, though, we have something of an ironic situation here. The only way everyone can be sure that CBD would be legal is if all states deem it so without any question. Unfortunately, it will likely be quite a while before this happens. 

Hemp According to the Law

For companies that sell both CBD and hemp products, it is wise and efficient to source their hemp from local farms within their respective states. Recent guidance issued by the USDA for hemp products offers insights into ways that hemp producers can avoid confusing hemp and illegal marijuana products. As the landscape of the hemp industry changes, consumers have to be very careful with where they purchase their CBD products. 

The confusion often comes from the nature of the plants themselves. Separating hemp from cannabis can be difficult as they’re not simply different varieties of the same kind of plant. According to the law, the hemp used to create CBD and hemp products must contain 0.3% THC or less by dry weight. However, that’s not enough to distinguish them, especially for untrained law enforcement officers.

After all, THC and CBD are only two of the 113 known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Many of these compounds are still being studied by scientists. Due to this, there is a lot of ambiguity surrounding hemp and CBD products, and the law is slow to adjust to this changing field.


As scientists continue to seek a deeper understanding of how CBD and other cannabinoids interact with our endocannabinoid system, we are sure to see more changes in the laws. However, it is legal to sell CBD products for now so long as they adhere to the rules set out by the USDA and FDA. 

As a consumer, you should avoid any products that make claims that violate these rules. You must understand that CBD is not a cure-all miracle medicine, nor is it a dietary supplement. And, as long as you buy CBD within a state where cannabis is entirely legal, you can be sure that you’re not committing a crime. In the meantime, we can only hope that lawmakers come to a consensus and reduce the confusion surrounding this new industry.

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