What You Need to Know: Is CBD Oil Legal in California?
Posted on July 23rd, 2020
There are a lot of questions surrounding CBD’s legality of CBD because it’s a cannabis plant extract. As a result, cannabidiol (CBD) is often tied to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) a different cannabis extract, even though the two are entirely separate cannabinoids.
Of course, they are closely related extracts, in that both cannabinoids may offer relief from many chronic conditions. But their biggest difference is this: THC produces psychoactive effects. CBD doesn’t. Still, many people hesitate from experiencing CBD’s potential effects on stress, joint pain, and other issues. Why? They’re worried about getting in trouble with law enforcement.
Now, here’s the good news for residents of The Golden State: CBD oil is, in fact, legal in California. And, today, we’ll explore all the ins and outs of legal CBD oil use in California.
Is CBD Oil Legal in California?
The short answer is yes, CBD oil is absolutely legal in the state of California. In fact, any kind of CBD is considered legal in the state, even particularly THC-dominant blends that would be considered illegal in other states. The one potential issue is that, just like alcohol and tobacco products, there is an age limit on CBD use. You must be 21 years old or older in order to purchase CBD oil legally in California
No one should be too surprised by this. California is renowned for its extremely liberal medical marijuana laws. And they were relaxing restrictions over a decade before marijuana legalization became a mainstream movement. Since hemp-derived CBD is derived from a low THC-strain of cannabis, and since all types of marijuana are legal in California anyway, it makes sense that California would be fully on board with the use of CBD oil.
CBD Use Is Legal in California
According to federal law, CBD use is legal, while marijuana use is not. And, while every state regulates CBD use differently, in California it is legal to use CBD oil as long as you are 21 or older.
You do not need a special prescription from a doctor, physician, or other clinical healers in order to legally use this cannabinoid. Basically, in California, CBD is treated a lot like aspirin or other non-prescription medicine. The only real difference is the age restriction.
CBD is legal thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill that indicated cannabis products with a THC measurement of 0.3% or less would be considered legal by federal standards . Now, since federal law is typically less progressive than California laws, and the state has fully decriminalized the use, growth, and sale of marijuana, it’s likely that CBD is going to stay legal for the long haul.
As of this writing, state regulations indicate that CBD is legal for recreational use, so long as it’s not infused in food. As such, food laced with CBD has not been approved by the FDA or the state of California.
CBD vs. Marijuana
CBD products come from cannabis plants, which means they can be derived from marijuana or hemp plants. The main differentiation between these two varieties is their THC concentration: marijuana plants have concentrations higher than 0.3% THC; hemp plants have THC concentrations below that threshold. And they typically carry much higher CBD concentrations.
As a result, hemp-derived CBD offers a way to enjoy the healing benefits of cannabis without any psychoactive effects. This is part of the reason why CBD oil is widely available in many states, even those where smoking marijuana is still considered illegal.
There is a major difference between these substances both in how they affect individuals as well as how they are viewed legally, even though, in the state of California both CBD and THC have the legal green light.
Are There Any CBD Restrictions in California?
Lucky you: there are very few. You can legally buy CBD anywhere in the state, with or without a prescription. You just need to be 21 years of age or older. Otherwise from the buying side, that’s about the only restriction. In fact, at this point, there are no limits on how much you can buy, own, or carry at any given time.
Farming hemp for commercial uses is also legal, but it is overseen by the California Department of Food & Agriculture. So if you’re looking to grow and harvest hemp to create your own CBD, or to sell CBD products, you will need to register with the agricultural commissioner or your county before you grow and cultivate a crop of hemp. Applications are normally available but the annual registration fee is $900 .
There are stricter rules when it comes to labeling cannabis products. Basically, you need to make the following information readily available:
- Origin of the CBD products
- Expiration dates
- Specific amounts of CBD (and THC) in the mixture
- Full ingredient list
You will need to test your cannabis for THC concentration in accordance with state laws.
What Can CBD Oil Be Used for?
This is one of those questions that still hits a lot of gray areas. Basically, manufacturers of CBD oil can’t make claims that haven’t been approved by the FDA. So, regardless of how many different scientific studies suggest CBD oil benefits, producers are barred from legally discussing many of these benefits.
Still, since you don’t need a prescription for CBD oil, you can take it for any reason you want. From individual personal accounts, we’ve seen people strongly advocate that CBD oil helps relieve symptoms of anxiety and stress, while many others like it for perceived relief in joint aches or stiffness.
A little bit of research online will give you an idea of what CBD oil can be used for. The main thing to understand is that legally, many producers can’t list every suggested CBD use.
What Is the Best Way to Buy Legal CBD?
CBD can be bought throughout the state of California at stores or online. CBD is easy to find in-state as it is not reserved for dispensary sales. This is why, in California, you can find CBD oil in grocery stores, gas stations, specialty stores, normal convenience stores, as well as tons of small business websites that will make the CBD oil and ship it to you directly.
What About Cultivating Hemp for CBD?
The rules above apply if you plan on selling any type of CBD. On the other hand, if you want to produce CBD for personal use, you are allowed to grow your own hemp and produce your own CBD oil. As long as you don’t sell your product.
Laws on this may vary based on agricultural restrictions from year to year, so talking to your country agricultural specialist is always a good idea before growing hemp.
Are There Any Legal “Gray Areas”?
Generally, the CBD buying rules are fairly straight forward in the state of California.
Any gray areas would come once you were producing CBD oil for sale, or possibly even for yourself. At that point, you will face some limitations or regulations. But these are hardly gray areas, as the answers on what’s allowed tend to be cut and dry. You just may need a little bit of guidance to get you to the right information.
Is CBD Oil Right for You?
Only you can make that decision. CBD oil is not the same as medical marijuana, although both come from cannabis plants. There will be no “getting high” effect from CBD oil. This is a product that is considered scientifically backed by some, and a natural alternative supplement by others. So, if you want to buy and use CBD, just do your research, decide if it’s right for you, and know that it’s legal to buy in California.
Here’s the good news for residents of The Golden State: CBD oil is legal in California. Let's explore the ins and outs of legal CBD oil use in California.
Is CBD oil legal in California?
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- What is CBD?
- Why is CBD sometimes illegal?
- California CBD laws
- Where to buy CBD in California
- How to read CBD labels and packaging
California makes cannabis legal to possess and buy for adults 21 and older, and cannabidiol (CBD) oil products are widely available at dispensaries and over-the-counter at other retailers. However, state law prohibits CBD oil derived from hemp from being added to foods and drinks until the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determines it is safe.
California is known as one of the most liberal states in the nation — and so it makes sense that it’s also been one of the strongest supporters of cannabis legalization. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana when it passed the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. And 20 years later, the state passed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which legalized cannabis for recreational purposes.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis. It is the second-most-abundant cannabinoid in the plant after THC. CBD is also purported to showl therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, seizure-suppressing, and anti-anxiety properties.
Why is CBD sometimes illegal?
Hemp strains don’t produce enough of the cannabinoid THC to cause intoxication, but all types of cannabis, including hemp, were considered illegal under the 1970 Federal Controlled Substances Act. The legislation swept all cannabis under the Schedule 1 umbrella, which defined cannabis as a substance with a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use, and a likelihood for addiction.
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp cultivation and created a clear pathway to remove some cannabis from Schedule 1 status by creating a legal distinction between hemp and marijuana. Under the new legislation, hemp is classified as cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC by weight, while marijuana is classified as cannabis that contains more than 0.3% THC. As a result, hemp-derived CBD was descheduled by the bill, but because marijuana is categorized as a Schedule 1 substance, CBD that is derived from the marijuana plant is still considered federally illegal. While hemp is now considered an agricultural commodity under the 2018 Farm Bill, it still must be produced and sold under regulations that implement the bill. The USDA has yet to create these regulations.
New formulations of CBD allow the cannabinoid to be used in a variety of ways. Photo by: (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)
The Farm Bill also endowed the FDA with the ability to regulate CBD’s labeling, therapeutic claims, and presence in foods or drinks. Despite the Farm Bill’s passage, the FDA has issued a directive that no CBD, not even hemp-derived, may be added to food or beverages or marketed as a dietary supplement. As time passes, the FDA has begun re-evaluating that stance on CBD products but has yet to revise rules or specifically regulate CBD products. The FDA’s slow movement has created further confusion on the state level.
The FDA has historically been strict when it comes to health claims or content that could be understood as medical advice — and makes no exception for CBD.
Hemp production and sale, including its cannabinoids and CBD specifically, remain tightly regulated federally. The Farm Bill provides that individual states may also regulate and even prohibit CBD cultivation and commerce. States may attempt to regulate CBD in food, beverage, dietary supplements, and cosmetic products independently of the FDA’s rules.
California CBD laws
Currently, California’s definition of CBD is consistent with the federal definition. According to a letter issued by the Attorney General’s Office, “although California currently allows the manufacturing and sales of cannabis products (including edibles), the use of industrial hemp as the source of CBD to be added to food products is prohibited. Until the FDA rules that industrial hemp-derived CBD oil and CBD products can be used as a food or California makes a determination that they are safe to use for human and animal consumption, CBD products are not an approved food, food ingredient, food additive, or dietary supplement.”
After the 2018 Farm Bill passed, the state introduced AB 228, which would have clarified CBD legality and legalized hemp-derived CBD to be included in food, beverage, and cosmetics products without restrictions, but the bill was held. Until the bill is passed and signed by the governor, California’s laws surrounding hemp-derived CBD and CBD oil remain consistent with the FDA.
Licensing requirements for CBD
The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which authorized the commercial production of industrial hemp, went into effect in early 2017. The act, SB 566, authorizes the commercial production of industrial hemp in California and became effective on Jan. 1, 2017. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is developing a program to administer the new law.
CBD oil usually comes with a dropper to allow consumers and patients to measure out their dose. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
All growers of industrial hemp for commercial purposes must register with a county agricultural commissioner prior to cultivation. Registration applications are available on the CDFA Industrial Hemp Program web page. The annual registration fee is currently $900.
While the hemp program is still being developed by the CFDA, the California Department of Public Health has clear labeling regulations around cannabis products, which includes information regarding the products’ origins, expiration, ingredients and amounts of THC and CBD. Labels also may not contain any misleading information, make unproven health claims, or be designed in a way that is attractive to children.
Hemp growers must also submit samples for THC concentration testing no more than 30 days before harvest. Registrants must submit their registration number, name and contact information, anticipated harvest date, name of the seed cultivar(s), physical address, Global Positioning System coordinates, general description of the location, and acreage of the crop, and the name and contact information of the laboratory to conduct the testing for THC content.
Once that information is received, samples will be collected by the commissioner or an approved third-party for testing. All labs must have an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) / International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 17025 accreditation and use a validated method for total THC analysis. Any industrial hemp crop that doesn’t meet testing requirements will be destroyed.
California CBD possession limits
Currently, there are no clear possession limits on CBD oil in California.
Where to buy CBD in California
While hemp-derived CBD cannot be used in food, beverages, or dietary supplements in California, you can still find a variety of CBD products, including CBD oil, in both retail stores and online.
Because the manufacturing and sale of CBD products is still unregulated, it’s important to do your research and make sure you’re purchasing from a reputable source.
How to read CBD labels and packaging
Though California’s product label guidelines have been delineated, there remain some questions about how they apply to hemp-derived CBD products. It’s important to have the information necessary to make an informed decision about the ingredients, efficacy, and safety of the CBD products you purchase. Most reputable CBD producers will typically include the following information required by the California Department of Public Health on their CBD product labels:
- Amount of CBD and THC per package
- Amount of CBD and THC per serving
- Amount of any cannabinoid that makes up 5% of more of the total cannabinoid content
- Supplement Fact panel, including other ingredients
- Net weight or volume
- Suggested and instructions for use
- Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate
- Batch or date code
- Product identity, including the words “cannabis-infused” for edibles
- Universal symbol that identifies items as containing cannabis
- Manufacturer name and contact information
- Date of manufacture/packaging
- Government warning statement for cannabis products
- Unique Identifier (UID) Number
- List of all ingredients (including any allergens or artificial food coloring)
- Expiration date
- Refrigeration notice on perishable products
Is CBD oil legal in California? Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents What is CBD? Why is CBD sometimes illegal? California CBD laws