Everything you ever wanted to know about CBD oil but was afraid to ask.
It’s 2019. Is CBD Legal yet?
CBD oil and other forms of medicinally valuable cannabis have been on a wild roller coaster ride for more than eight decades — the past decade being been by far the wildest. But with the passage of the 2018 farm bill, it looks like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and the ride may soon be coming to an end — at least in the vast majority of states.
The public at large still has a lot of misperceptions and unanswered questions about CBD oil and its legal status. Let’s try to answer some of them.
Q: Wow! I see that CVS and Walgreens are planning on selling CBD! So, is CBD oil completely legal now?
No. It’s legal in some states but not all. It’s complicated.
Q: It’s okay. I’ve got time.
Alright, so the federal farm bill was passed and signed near the end of 2018. It did, indeed, include language that was meant to greatly reduce federal restrictions on hemp. Hemp is the plant from which the CBD oil you find in these stores is made.
Unlike its intoxicating cousin, marijuana, hemp contains negligible amounts of THC and does not cause a buzz. It’s an extremely valuable crop that has gotten a bad rap simply because it looks and smells like pot. But, come on, that’s like outlawing all mushrooms that look like the magic kind.
Q: Wait. Back up. What’s THC? And for that matter, what’s CBD?
THC and CBD are two oily compounds found in the resinous flowers of the female cannabis plant. Both THC and CBD are parts of a family of compounds known as cannabinoids. THC, aka delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, and CBD, or cannabidiol, are both found in marijuana. However that buzz you get from smoking marijuana can be blamed entirely on the THC. CBD is non-intoxicating. But it has powerful medicinal benefits much like THC. In order to avoid making products that get you stoned, CBD-rich oils can be extracted from hemp rather than marijuana.
Q: Hemp. Marijuana. What’s the difference?
Actually, there’s no physical difference between the two types of cannabis. They are the same species of plant. Hemp is defined as any strain of cannabis which has THC levels under 0.3 percent. You could smoke some totally dank hemp flower until the cows come home and not get the least bit baked.
Other than that hemp is indistinguishable from marijuana. Also, hemp oil, which is made from the plant’s seeds does not contain cannabinoids. Hemp seed oil is kind of like sunflower seed oil, whereas CBD oil, made by extracting the essential oils from the flowers, is more similar to things like peppermint oil.
Q: CBD oil is made from “industrial hemp,” right?
No. Wrong. It’s actually not the least bit accurate. Industrial hemp is grown in huge fields crammed closely together like wheat. It can grow well over 12 feet tall. It’s cultivated for its fibers and seeds, not flowers. The seeds are actually quite nutritious — a veritable superfood — and the durable fibers in the long stalks make outstanding building materials, textiles (cloth), rope, paper, and, supposedly, 10,000 other products.
In order to produce seeds, both male and female plants must be present. And, as opposed to the unpollinated flowers, seeds clusters have minuscule amounts of CBD. So, basically, industrial hemp is a lousy source for extracting CBD oil.
Q: Okay. So if CBD oil isn’t made from industrial hemp, what is it made from?
The kind of hemp used to make CBD oil is known in the industry as phytocannabinoid-rich hemp, or PCR hemp. It’s grown in the same way as marijuana. Only female plants are grown. They are cultivated in plots or pots rather than packed together so they can get big and bushy.
The females are not allowed to fraternize with males because they’ed start producing seeds and stop focusing their energy on making cannabinoids. Not only is PCR hemp not industrial hemp, it’s technically not even a breed of hemp. It’s essentially a strain of marijuana that has had the THC bred out of it.
Q: Okay, so weren’t we already past all this nonsense? I read a number of times in the past few years that CBD was already legal in all 50 states.
You probably heard that from corporations that make and sell CBD or from blog posts written by people with no more education on the subject than a scarecrow. Many people argued that CBD oil was legalized by the 2014 farm bill (which clearly preceded the 2018 farm bill). This is not the case. That bill only authorized certain states to implement hemp pilot programs to study and learn more about the plant. The only products that were actually made legal were the stalks and the seeds.
Oils, or any other products, produced from the flowers and leaves were still taboo under that bill. A couple of years ago, the Food and Drug Administration actually attempted to clarify its stance on CBD oil by saying that it was legal as long as it was made from the stalks and seeds.
The problem is those parts of the plant don’t actually contain cannabinoids. That’s like saying it’s okay to make apple juice as long as it comes from the branches. Typical government insanity.
Q: So if the 2014 farm bill didn’t legalize CBD oil, how come it was still being produced and sold like it was going out of style long before the 2018 farm bill?
Okay, so what happened was farmers in Europe and Asia, where CBD oil was legal, began importing it into the U.S. under the guise of it being a hemp food. Often times the product was labeled “hemp extract” rather than CBD oil. Little by little it crept into the mainstream.
As more and more states legalized marijuana, some U.S. companies began producing CBD oil (and not from stems and seeds). But, technically, shipping CBD oil across state lines was still federally illegal. By the time the FDA and DEA noticed what was going on, the market for CBD oil was already so huge that it was simply impossible to enforce the rules.
It would take far too much money and manpower to go and shut down every single producer and seller. Yeah, the FDA sent out some nasty letters to CBD makers demanding they stop making medical claims, but other than that the feds haven’t done squat to hinder CBD oil sales in the U.S. Also, there were policies such as The Cole Memo which restrained the Department of Justice from going after cannabis companies in states where it was legal. So there’s that.
Q: So how were these companies making the claim that CBD oil was legal in all 50 states?
Making claims is easy. Making accurate claims is another story. Some were just flat out lying. And many didn’t even know they were wrong. Even some big name lawyers in the industry wrongly claimed it was legal. Again, the argument was that hemp extract can be considered a food source. As long as it was produced from the flowers — which all CBD oil is — then it was illegal in the eyes of the feds.
Furthermore, many states flat out prohibited the production and sale of CBD oil. Some states even considered it the same as hash oil and anyone caught using it could be prosecuted under that state’s marijuana laws. Talk about being stuck in the past.
Q: Okay, so is it is or is it ain’t legal in all 50 states now?
No. It still ain’t. Some states flat out forbid the production and sale of PCR hemp and CBD oil. The few that are still being difficult about it claim that allowing farms to grow hemp makes it troublesome for law enforcement officials because the two plants look and smell the same. But even in those states, there are countless shops peddling CBD oil.
Although a few shops have been raided by local officials in the past few years, the vast majority of CBD oil sellers have been doing so with impunity. Again, this is mostly because it would cost too much money and manpower to take them all down and to prosecute them all in court.
CBD oil is, however, legal in most states now. In fact, more than 40 U.S. states have created laws that distinguish hemp from marijuana. Others are still trying to figure out if CBD oil is safe to consume.
Q: What’s to figure out? Isn’t CBD, like, totally non-toxic and non-addictive and good for treating something like 50 serious medical conditions? I don’t get it.
Cannabis cultivation was made federally illegal way back in the 1930’s when the now hilarious movie “Reefer Madness” was made. Then around 1970 the federal government went all ballistic and declared marijuana — all cannabis for that matter, including hemp — to be a dangerous Schedule I controlled substance with no medicinal value and a high risk of abuse like cocaine and heroin (even though marijuana is actually safer than alcohol and cigarettes). Then they made growing or possessing either marijuana or hemp punishable by tossing your butt in federal prison. That was the start of the infamous War on Drugs.
Q: But the War on Drugs was like a total disaster, wasn’t it?
Yep! It sill is in many places. Millions of lives have been wrecked because of it, and it’s got us exactly nowhere. It cost the country trillions of dollars in wasted law enforcement resources and lost productivity. Even so, it’s still an uphill battle to convince people that their own government had been feeding them — let’s call them “untruths” — for a half-century to gain political power. That’s a whole ‘nother story.
Q: So, what’s their problem? Don’t they see that it was all a bunch of bull poo? Don’t they know that marijuana saves lives and that more than two-thirds of Americans think cannabis, and especially CBD oil, should be completely legal?
Many states are now cool with it. There are still a few die-hard holdouts, but many experts maintain that it’s only a matter of time before the prohibitionists have to eat crow and admit they were wrong all along. Now that it’s shaping up to be a multi-billion dollar industry many conservatives are beginning to see the green light.
Q: I heard that officials in New York City and other places were putting some kind of “embargo” on cafes that were adding CBD to their coffee and muffins? If it’s legal, why are they being so non cooperative?
Well, now, that’s because the FDA still hasn’t approved CBD as a product you can legally add to food. Making hemp extract that contains CBD is one thing. Concentrating and purifying the CBD and then adding it to foods is another. That includes things like CBD gummie bears which are hugely popular and sell like hotcakes. Just like willow bark extract is one thing, but pure salicylic acid (aka aspirin) is another.
Some folks in Congress are pressing the FDA hard to get that solved. Unfortunately, the FDA says it may be well into 2020 by the time the brilliant minds there figure out what the rest of us already know. On the other hand, the FDA did approve a drug called Epidiolex for the treatment of Epilepsy which is essentially pure CBD. So they know. They’re just stuck in a bureaucratic sea of red tape.
Q: I really don’t understand why they are they so freaked out about CBD oil.
Because — marijuana. They can’t stop thinking about how marijuana causes people to become raving, murderous lunatics. And marijuana is cannabis. And hemp is cannabis. And what’s the world coming to.
Q: You’re kidding. Right? I’ve never heard of anyone ever go ballistic after smoking a joint. Also never heard of anyone OD-ing on CBD. Or pot for that matter.
Yeah, you could eat a pound of CBD and it probably wouldn’t do more than make you chill AF (don’t try this at home). But, seriously, that “Reefer Madness” business is still hard to shake even 80 years later. Although prohibition may end in the near future, at the time of writing marijuana is still not legal according to the feds. I guess they’re just afraid that people will get away with sneaking some THC into their CBD oil and go mental.
Q: Why not just make all cannabis legal? That’s what the people want, right?
As utterly preposterous as the idea of making marijuana legal sounds, ten states have already legalized pot for adult recreational use, like California, Massachusetts, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Nevada, etc. And, by the time you read this, others may have already done so as well — New Jersey, Illinois, New Hampshire and some others are working on it as we speak.
Another couple dozen or so have legalized only medical marijuana or CBD oil. So, to answer your question, it’s illegal federally and in some states, because there are still a bunch of “Reefer Madness” fanboys running around shaking fists and pointing fingers. It’s looking more and more like the blockheads will soon be outnumbered.
Q: So, what’s all the fuss about anyway? Why do people want CBD oil? What’s it actually good for? Don’t you need the THC for it to work?
Actually, not in all cases. Although some patients might benefit from having THC in the formula, it’s not required in all cases. Many people find that CBD oil provides substantial relief. Some of the most popular conditions for which people use CBD oil include, chronic pain, epilepsy, ADHD, autism, MS, ALS, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, sleep issues, stress, and just generally to snap themselves out of being in a cranky mood all the time.
Q: There are ways to get CBD other than via CBD oil, right? Like my friend uses a vape pen.
Yes. A lot of people that suffer from sudden onset anxiety issues like to use CBD vape pens because they take effect and provide relief pretty much instantly. People with stomach and intestinal issues prefer to use CBD-infused edibles such as CBD gummies and capsules since they deliver the CBD to the source of the problem.
CBD salves are used for skin conditions. CBD sports rubs are available for tackling muscle and joint pain. There are also beverages, patches, dabs, and even CBD tampons and suppositories.
Q: So, where can I get some CBD oil myself so I can check it out?
There are now shops selling CBD oil, edibles, topicals, etc. in just about every state in the country (regardless of federal laws) — especially in the states where marijuana is legal and in the bigger cities in state’s where it isn’t. Just recently Within days of each other CVS and Walgreens announced that they would be selling CBD in store in a limited number of states where it’s legal. By the time you read this, we’re sure that many other major retailers are bound to follow suit.
Also, tons of online retailers sell CBD on their websites. Some of the benefits of buying online are that you can find the most reputable brands and a much wider variety of brands and products than in most shops. You can also find pet CBD products online — CBD oils, CBD sprays, CBD pet treats, etc. Make sure you don’t give your pet CBD products made for humans.