What it’s Like to Run a Business in the Legal Cannabis Space

As the world becomes more informed about the benefits of medical and recreational marijuana, we are seeing an increase in the number of legal cannabis businesses. Whilst the business opportunities are immense, it can also be challenging, however, for those who are leading the way in such a new market.

It is, of course, exciting to be spearheading such a newly legalized industry, but with that comes a number of unforeseen challenges. So, what is it really like to run a business in the legal cannabis space, what challenges are there, and how can they be overcome?

Rules and Laws

It is important that you are aware of the specific rules and laws in your state with regards to what you are and are not allowed to do. Depending on your type of business, you need to understand licensing requirements, marijuana dispensary marketing, and marijuana types and quantities, for example, to ensure that you are within the law.

Funding and Finances

One major difficulty that cannabis businesses have is in the funding and finances of their company. Often banks and other financial institutions are not willing to invest in the marijuana industry, leaving businesses with some major difficulties obtaining capital.

You can try to get investment yourself from private investors, as Dr Andrew Kerklaan (Dr. Kerklaan Therapeutics) who supplies medicinal marijuana products suggests – “The days of bootstrapping a start-up in the cannabis industry are quickly coming to an end, if not already over. My advice is to raise smart money with investors who can bring experience and expertise from other industries to the table. Raise enough capital to quickly be able to compete.”


Although it’s legal to run a cannabis business in certain states, the industry is still unregulated in a number of ways. This means that banks and other financial institutions are reluctant to work with marijuana businesses – which is a big problem when it comes to taking and processing payments. Therefore, many cannabis businesses are forced to accept cash payments only, which can negatively impact sales, rule out online selling and put shop security at risk.

It is possible to find financial institutions who can help you to process payments, deposit cash, and implement payroll, but they are few and far between. It’s easiest to find these cannabis friends banks and credit unions by talking to other local businesses in the same industry. Cannabis business are forced to get increasingly creative when finding ways of accepting other forms of payment besides cash, like debit cards, cashless ATM transactions, and echecks. Because of the run-around this causes business owners, industry leaders are putting increased amounts of pressure on the government to change rules and make it easier for banks to offer their services to legal marijuana dispensaries, or marijuana businesses in general.

The Future

Many owners of legal cannabis businesses describe their experience as having all of the trials and tribulations of running a `normal` business, but with serious extra weight added to their feet. The contradictory nature of marijuana’s legal status at the federal and state levels has resulted in business infrastructure that is poorly equipped to handle the additional issues faced with the legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana. However, things are changing slowly, and these challenges are becoming increasingly easier to conquer.

CBD Buyer’s Guide – How and Where to Buy Legal, Organic CBD Oil

There are literally hundreds of CBD retailers – but only a few sell CBD products with any medical efficacy. There are some very important questions to ask before deciding where to buy:

Where was the starting material (hemp) grown? Is it organic?

Correct Answer: In the United States – all products should derived from organic hemp grown in the United States. Hemp grown in the European Union (EU) is acceptable (although less preferable than US-grown) ONLY if it is grown using organic methods and the company can prove the lack of pesticides, mold, and heavy metals through current test results (see below).

Watch Out For: Hemp grown in China. Even in countries with agricultural regulations, the list of approved pesticides is far from safe. Thus you are really relying on the specific company’s ethical standards when it comes to hemp cultivation. The reason this is such a big deal with hemp when compared to other plants, is that hemp is a dynamic accumulator plant. Dynamic accumulator is a term used to describe plants that gather minerals – both good and bad – from the surrounding soil and store them in its tissues. So if you’re growing a hemp plant with petroleum-based pesticides in soil that contains heavy metals…you’re inevitably going to have a hemp plant containing both toxic pesticides and heavy metals. This is why many people have poor experiences when first trying CBD – you buy your vegetables organically, why not your hemp? The presence of these toxins is not regulated by any agency and they will end up in your CBD oil if you don’t purchase from the correct company. We like Joy Organics because they ensure that all of their CBD productsare produced from organically and sustainably grown hemp without the use of pesticides.

Is the company vertically integrated?

Correct Answer: Yes, this is the only way to ensure top to bottom quality, consistency, and safety. All hemp should be organically grown on-site and final the extracted products should be produced in-house with sustainable practices. This is important because it gives the company full control over all the inputs in their tinctures, salves, and other products.

Watch Out For: Companies that won’t or can’t tell you where their plant material is sourced. If they wholesale the material from a farm, can they ensure the product is free of pesticides and mold via a laboratory test?

Does the company provide test results?

Correct Answer: Each batch of flower AND finished product should be tested by a state certified testing facility for potency, legality and safety. These test results should also be made available to any patient that requests them. These tests should certify 3 things: the amount of CBD contained in the product, the amount of THC in the product (the starting hemp plant material must test below 0.3%), and the lack of mold or toxic pesticides.

Watch Out For: Companies that do not have test results or refuse to give them to customers. Also be wary of companies who only test one batch of finished product and then assume that all future batches will be the same – big mistake. Hemp is a product of nature and thus, no two batches will ever be identical – even in the most regulated environment. The company must provide you test results for the actual product you intend to purchase as well as the plant material used to make it – otherwise you are jeopardizing your safety and the medical efficacy of the product.

How is the CBD extracted?

Correct Answer: Organic ethanol wash – this is one of the oldest and most natural way to derive a full spectrum extract from the cannabis plant. Critical CO2 extractions are also acceptable and produce a full spectrum CBD extract. A full spectrum extract strips all the beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant – in this case, without the need to use any toxic hydrocarbons. Ethanol washes and CO2 extractions produce a CBD extract that is 100% safe and solvent-free. Full spectrum extracts utilize the whole plant which results in an extract with greater medical efficacy than isolating and administering CBD, for instance, on its own.

Watch Out For: Companies who won’t disclose their extraction method or utilize hydrocarbons like butane and propane. These substances are toxic in high amounts and even with proper purging, most hydrocarbon extracts contain residual solvent. Other extraction methods do not result in a full spectrum extract – meaning they were not able to extract all of the beneficial compounds from the hemp plant (i.e. you don’t get the full range of benefits).

What carrier substance is used in the CBD oil to deliver the CBD extract?

Correct Answer: Ingestible CBD oil should be comprised of coconut MCT oil and full spectrum hemp extract (the part that contains the actual CBD). It’s important that the carrier oil contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT), like coconut oil, because it is easier for the body to digest. Remember that cannabinoids are best delivered to the body in either fat or alcohol as a carrier.

Watch Out For: Companies who use cheap oil carriers that don’t contain MCTs. Also look out for products that don’t clearly and accurately state the ingredients used. It’s important you as a consumer can identify all inputs – especially if the product is being used for medical or therapeutic purposes.

CBD Vape Oil:  What Exactly Is In the Product?

Correct Answer:  Any CBD vape oil you purchase should consist of a very short list of ingredients:  a carrier oil (such as MCT oil, hemp oil, grapeseed oil, or coconut oil) and CBD or hemp extract (depending on how the company labels its CBD concentrate), with a possible ingredient or two added for flavoring, whether it be a proprietary terpene blend or a natural or artificial flavoring. Another possible  addition is vegetable glycerin, a common thinning agent that has not been shown to be harmful when vaporized. That’s it. Anything else should raise an eyebrow.

Watch Out For: Anything containing propylene glycol or polyethylene glycol. These compounds have been associated with the formation of toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, and acetaldehyde that can cause cancer and other disease in humans.  Steer clear of any product intended to be inhaled that contains these ingredients.

This is something we’re very particular about, and for good reason: propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol are two common thinning agents used by many manufacturers to ease the flow of the finished product.  While both of these ingredients are generally recognized as safe for topical application and oral consumption, multiple studies  have shown that they become toxic when heated to the temperatures required for vaporization, and especially in high-temperature vaporizers designed to create big clouds of vapor (you know, the popular kind!).  For this reason, we avoid all vape products containing propylene glycol, CBD or otherwise.

Red Flags:

  • No phone number
  • No indication of where plant material is sourced
  • Can’t speak to a real person – even via email
  • No test results
  • Not organic
  • No clear indication of dosage (or of which cannabinoid)

A Quick Note About CBD & Drug Testing

If drug testing is a part of the conditions of your employment, you might be concerned about the potential of CBD to cause you to test positive for THC. This isn’t an unfounded concern — however, there isn’t exactly a cut-and-dry way to answer it.

Much of the data we have about CBD is anecdotal, and its potential impact on drug testing is no exception.  There are very few peer-reviewed studies on the subject, but there appears to be a small risk of a false positive for some users. Avoiding full-spectrum products containing traces of THC can reduce your risk of a false positive, but that may not eliminate the risk entirely.

If you are concerned about passing a drug test, you should consider this potential risk when deciding whether CBD is right for you. To learn more about the science of CBD and drug testing, check out our article for a more thorough discussion of how to minimize your risk of a false positive.

Who Do We Trust?

We have visited Joy Organics’ greenhouse facility in Colorado and seen their organic, sustainable cultivation methods first hand. We’ve viewed their test results and experienced great personal success with their products. If you’re interested in truly high quality, organic plant-based medicine, we only recommend Joy Organics.

Can You Smoke in the Car? 5 Tips for Driving with Weed

Hotboxing your car while blasting Bob Marley’s Legend and cruising down I-70 may sound like a good idea—until you’re getting handcuffed by an ornery officer and explaining to him why there’s an oven-fire’s worth of smoke billowing from your open window.

Smoking and driving is never a good idea—but what about just keeping weed or a 420 travel kit in your car while you’re driving? Whether you’re in a state with legal weed like Colorado or you’re passing through an inhospitable land like Utah or Texas, there are a few ways to minimize risk while driving with weed in your car. Here are a few of our favorite tips to stay out of trouble while you’re on the road.


5 Tips for Driving with Weed:

  1. Don’t smoke in the car

    Our first piece of advice sounds obvious, and it might be a total buzzkill, but we recommend you don’t smoke in the car. Smoking—and even vaping—in your car before you drive is a dead giveaway. And even if you’re not high anymore, the lingering scent of smoke gives any police officer with a pair of nostrils probable cause to search your vehicle.

  2. Don’t smoke and then drive the car

    You might snort at this advice and say, “I’m a great high driver.” While we believe that driving high is not nearly as dangerous as driving drunk, it’s important to acknowledge that when you’re stoned, your reaction times are slower, your peripheral vision is decreased, and your ability to multi-task is impeded. You’re not going to necessarily drive off a cliff, but you aren’t exactly ready for a Formula 1 race, either. Recognizing the potential for impairment goes a long way.

  3. Keep that stash under an ounce

    If you have a duffle bag full of chronic with you in the car, chances are you’re going to have some explaining to do to the law. Even in states where weed is legal, the average Joe can’t just haul around pounds of kush. Possession jumps to distribution, community service turns into hard jail time. Unless it absolutely can’t be avoided, keeping your stash to under an ounce is a great rule of thumb.

  4. Keep the chronic in the trunk

    Keep that herb in the trunk! Why? This tip could be the difference between a DUI and a simple possession charge — if you can’t reach it from the driver’s seat, you probably weren’t smoking while driving. Keep the stash in the trunk, know your rights, and play it cool.

  5. Use a Stash Case

    Keep your car clean of roaches, pipes, papers. Our recommendation? Snag a smell proof stash bag or case. This sleek smoking kit keeps all of your essentials in one place. The outdoor-grade zipper keeps your stash smell-proof and the rugged exterior protects your smoking accessories from bumps in the road. It is, without a doubt, the best way to manage your smoking supplies—no matter where you’re traveling.

Medical vs Recreational Cannabis

While we can agree that safe access to cannabis for all Americans remains the common goal, it’s unfortunate that its implementation has been divided into two very distinct tribes – medical and recreational cannabis. To better explain this distinction, we will yield to the grandfather of legal cannabis, Steve DeAngelo:

Since the passage of legalization in Colorado and Washington, the term “recreational use” has become the catchall phrase to describe all consumption of cannabis that is not “medical.” Lacking any commonly accepted definition, “recreational use” has in effect become a code word to describe “just getting high”—or intoxication. This is unfortunate, because the phrase just obscures more than it illuminates, and it perpetuates misconceptions about cannabis that have kept it illegal for decades.

This is a problem because it assumes that people can only use cannabis for one of two reasons – as a medicine for chronic illness or as an intoxicant to excite and/or confuse to the point where physical and mental control is markedly diminished. When in fact, cannabis provides a myriad of unique of benefits that are mistakenly characterized as “getting high.” Steve goes on to explain:

These include its ability to extend patience and promote self-examination; to awaken a sense of wonder and playfulness, and openness to spiritual experience; to enhance the flavor of meal, the sound of music, or the sensitivity of a lover’s touch; to open the mind and inspire creativity; to bring poetry to language and spontaneity to a performer; to catalyze laughter, facilitate friendship, and bridge human differences.

Neither “medical” nor “recreational” use accurately describes the above benefits – the reasons most people use cannabis. Defining cannabis use as purely recreational furthers the negative stigma surrounding its consumption and undermines the tangible benefits provided by the plant. That’s why Steve argues that the vast majority of cannabis use is really for wellness purposes. That is to say that most people, whether they realize it or not, are actually using cannabis to contribute to overall well-being and to reach increased levels of health.

The irony is that the medical program in Washington has been completely disbanded. Why? Money. Well, taxes to be specific. There is so much money to be made in recreational sales that both the state government and the recreational business owners lobbied to remove the state’s medical program altogether, which isn’t subject to the same high taxes.

What does this mean for you?

The division of legal cannabis into two distinct markets (three if you count the black market) has profound consequences for both consumers and the local communities. In a split market, quality suffers, costs rise, and service lags.


Simply put, the medical market commands higher quality cannabis and more innovative products. Because the medical market was established years before the recreational one, the cultivators on the medical side are among the most skilled and passionate in the world. They took huge risks to produce legal, high quality products that became the standard among medical consumers. Alternatively, the recreational markets rely on tourists and uninformed locals to purchase their sub-par goods without knowing any better. As immoral as this may sound, it happens everyday in legalized states.


As we touched on above, the recreational market charges taxes that are nearly double those on the medical side. As you might imagine, this means the state has an inherently greater interest in recreational sales, which bring in significantly more tax revenue that medical sales. Furthermore, recreational cannabis dispensaries can charge more knowing that the people shopping there do not have a medical card enabling them to purchase at lower prices.


Most medical patients get treated with compassion and dignity. With recreational sales, the primary goal is getting you in and out as quickly as possible. The focus has shifted from providing quality care, to serving as many customers as possible. In general, recreational bud tenders are not focused on educating you or providing honest recommendations – they are pushed to serve sub-par cannabis at above average prices. For this reason, it’s important to educate yourself before entering the dispensary.


Following the demise of medical cannabis in Washington, there has been over 300 dispensaries shut down; a mass exodus of talented growers and processors; and an outcry from medical patients who cannot source or afford the products they need. How is this fair to those with chronic illness that relied on the lower taxes and higher quality products for wellness? They literally don’t have the option to purchase what they need in a recreational dispensary and are forced to turn to the black market for products they once purchased in a legal medical shop.

In Colorado, both the medical and recreational markets continue to exist; however, the medical market is actually helping supply the black market unintentionally. People can go into a legal medical shop, purchase cannabis at a lower price (save 15+% in taxes alone), and then turn around and sell the same weed on Craigslist for a lower price than the recreational shops (while still making a profit). This unwarranted distinction between uses causes a price disparity that literally helps supply the black market.

Cannabis for Wellness

It’s time to reclassify cannabis as a wellness product as opposed to a medical or recreational drug.

This means avoiding phrases like “get high” that perpetuate the intoxicant/recreational classification. Does this mean you absolutely have to get a medical card? No, but it does mean voting with your dollar to support the few cannabis shops focused on product quality, service, and user experience as opposed to those that only care about the bottom line. Unfortunately, the recreational market will continue to cut corners until it reaches a point where consumers refuse to pay for that substandard level of service and product quality.

As more states vote on legalization initiatives, it’s important to understand what the measure entails, how the policy will be implemented, and what that means for you and your community. Do not assume that ALL legalization measure written to your benefit.

Here’s how to get your medical marijuana card in ColoradoNew YorkCalifornia, and other States.

CBD By State: Where is it Legal for Medical and Recreational Patients and Where is it Illegal

CBD has grown in popularity over recent years; used by everyone from chronic pain sufferers to athletes to people experiencing depression and anxiety, its potential applications are vast and diverse. Despite its ever-increasing rate of consumption, marijuana-derived CBD (an important distinction we’ll discuss in a moment) remains illegal in four states.

That’s because each US state has its own laws regarding the conditions under which marijuana-derived CBD is legal and how it is to be obtained, further muddying the waters. There is good news, though: thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is legally distinguished from its intoxicating cousin marijuana, and is defined as an agricultural commodity, not an illicit substance.  Therefore, hemp-derived CBD is legal at the federal level in all 50 states, as well as in Washington D.C.

Legality of CBD: A Possible Caveat

That said, a few counties in states like Texas and North Carolina have filed criminal charges against patients for possessing CBD products — these cases are still being prosecuted and have not yet resulted in convictions. To date, the cases have not involved CBD in the homes of private individuals; CBD products were confiscated from patients while traveling. While it’s unlikely that any convictions would hold up to the appeals process, that’s not realistic for most of us (who has the time and resources for a drawn-out court case?) and doesn’t appear to be deterring prosecutors from filing the charges anyway.

All this to say, it’s important to be aware of your local jurisdiction’s stance on CBD, especially in states (like Texas and North Carolina) that refuse to issue guidance in the face of such ordinances. This article is written with the common interpretation of the law in mind, and is applicable for most readers. However, like many new laws, the 2018 Farm Bill’s provision for hemp and CBD legality is experiencing some pushback in a few places. If you live in one of those places, take appropriate precautions, especially when traveling with CBD.

Legal CBD: A Breakdown of Federal Policy

Even at the federal level, the legal status of CBD hasn’t always been clear, and not even all government agencies seem to be in full agreement. A statement from the DEA in December 2016 declared that all cannabis extracts (CBD included), regardless of their origin (hemp or marijuana), are illegal under federal law and their possession is therefore potentially subject to prosecution.

This was the DEA’s attempt at saying; you can legally grow hemp under the 2014 version of the Farm Bill, but you can’t extract CBD oil from it. This declaration is being challenged in court by CBD manufacturers and patients alike, but pending a court decision or a change in federal law, it continues to be a legal grey area.

To be clear, this strict interpretation of the law hasn’t been enforced so far (and even if it were, many states have legal protections in place to shield people from immediate federal prosecution for possession of CBD). It is our position that technically, hemp-derived CBD remains legal in all 50 states—until we see enforcement that demonstrates otherwise. This is further evidenced by the fact that even stores like Whole Foods have begun stocking hemp-derived CBD products. Although we’d suggest purchasing from a more reputable company instead.

Since every state has its own laws regarding the legality of marijuana-derived CBD products, the question, “Is it legal?” can be tricky to answer. Here, we’ll discuss how different CBD products are classified under the law, then lay out their legality state by state.

Hemp vs. Marijuana-Derived CBD: The Legal Differences Between Cannabinoids

Cannabis contains an assortment of cannabinoids, a class of chemicals that act on the endocannabinoid receptors of the brain. THC, the flashiest and most well-known of the cannabinoids, is responsible for the high you get from cannabis consumption and is the reason the plant has been so heavily legislated against.

Here’s where it starts to get a bit technical: the term “cannabis” can refer to both marijuana, the high-THC variety of the plant that is illegal in many states and at the federal level, or hemp, the variety of the plant that contains less than .3% THC levels (according to federal regulations). Hemp was made legal for cultivation at the federal level under the 2018 Farm Bill, which legally separates hemp from marijuana and defines it like any other agricultural commodity.

While CBD, CBN, CBG, and other non-psychoactive (meaning they won’t get you high no matter how much you smoke) cannabinoids can be extracted from marijuana, they are most commonly extracted from hemp in an effort to skirt legal prohibitions on marijuana extracts. If these extracts are derived from hemp, they are technically legal in all fifty states and the District of Columbia.

That said, the FDA still considers CBD a drug, and has therefore been putting pressure on companies who sell it and other cannabis extracts. Additionally, most states that have legal CBD programs in place don’t have any kind of infrastructure for patients to purchase it legally. This effectively means that, while patients can legally possess and use CBD, they may not have any legal access to it in their state. This can make procuring CBD through a dispensary difficult even in areas where its use is legal. Some sellers rely on the ambiguity of local and federal laws to continue to operate in the communities they serve. Others make their products available online, since shipping Farm Bill-compliant CBD is (technically) legal nationwide.

So, to recap: hemp-derived CBD is, under the 2018 Farm Bill, legal for use everywhere in the US without a medical use license or prescription, which is how online CBD companies operate. However, marijuana-derived CBD is a trickier subject—because of its higher THC content, it remains illegal in many states. Next, we’ll give you the rundown of what types of marijuana-derived CBD legislation each state has enacted, and what that means for you as a consumer.

Marijuana-Derived CBD: States Where Fully Legal for Both Medical and Recreational Use

The District of Columbia and a total of eight US states—Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington—allow recreational marijuana use. This means that in these states, you can purchase and use marijuana-derived CBD products without a medical prescription.

In November, Michigan affirmed a measure that legalizes marijuana use for both medical and recreational purposes, making it the first state in the Midwest to legalize the herb. This means that CBD is now legal for consumption without a medical prescription in Michigan. However, it will be some time before the market develops enough to make recreational cannabis (and marijuana-derived CBD) widely available to the general public.

Marijuana-Derived CBD: States Where Legal for Medical Use Only

At present, the use of marijuana and marijuana-derived CBD is legal for medical use, often to treat hard-to-treat or drug-resistant conditions like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, in 46 states, including the eight mentioned above.

In 37 of these states (excluding the nine where all cannabis is legal for recreational use), you must have a medical prescription to obtain marijuana-derived CBD products from licensed dispensaries. The amount of THC permitted in these products varies from state to state, with some requiring levels of .3% or lower and others going as high as 8% (see the table below for more details on your state’s specific restrictions).

To get more specific, the following 21 states allow for the medical use of all marijuana products, including CBD: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia.

The remaining 17 states (confusingly enough, including Delaware from the previous 21)—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming—have enacted legislation that allows only for legal medical use of CBD oil, not other cannabis extracts.

The THC content permitted for CBD products varies from state to state under this type of legislation (see below for more details on your state’s requirements), so it’s important to make sure that any CBD you obtain in those states is compliant with their limits. When in doubt, opt for Farm Bill-compliant CBD extracts to stay as far within the law as possible.

Marijuana-Derived CBD: States Where Illegal for All Purposes, Both Medical and Recreational

There are currently four American states that outlaw any marijuana product of any kind, including CBD.  Despite CBD’s legal status, these states—Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota—are still home to businesses able to sell CBD products, due to either a lack of enforcement or the difficulty of interpreting the overlap of federal and state laws.

One Idaho business, for example, has skirted the legal issue by making the claim that all of their CBD is derived from mature cannabis stalks, a part of the plant which is not considered marijuana under that state’s law. Situations like this demonstrate the confusing and often contradictory nature of the legality of CBD. If you live in one of these states, we suggest purchasing hemp-derived CBD as it complies with the 2018 Farm Bill and can be ordered online.

CBD & Drug Testing

Drug testing is a minefield for many cannabis consumers (even those in legal states), and it’s reasonable to wonder if, as a cannabinoid, CBD might show up on a drug test. The short answer is, it’s complicated.

Like so much of the science behind cannabis and hemp, there’s a lot we don’t yet understand about the way taking CBD could potentially impact drug testing. Avoiding full-spectrum products containing trace amounts of THC can help limit your risk of a false positive, but a small handful of studies suggests that even isolate products may not be fully without risk, especially at high doses.

There’s no conclusive consensus that there’s zero risk of a false positive when taking CBD, so it’s important to be mindful of that risk when deciding whether CBD is right for you. If routine drug testing is a condition of your employment, we encourage you to read our article about CBD and drug testing to make an informed decision.

Is CBD Legal In Your State?

Take a look at the table below to see the circumstances under which marijuana-derived CBD is legal in your state.


State Hemp-derived CBD legal Marijuana-derived CBD legal without a prescription Marijuana-derived CBD legal by prescription Medical CBD legal under certain conditions
Alabama Yes No Yes Only permitted for cases of epilepsy (Carly’s Law 2014)
Alaska Yes Yes Yes
Arizona Yes No Yes
Arkansas Yes No Yes
California Yes Yes Yes Get Your California MMJ Card here
Colorado Yes Yes Yes Get Your Colorado MMJ Card here
Connecticut Yes No Yes
Delaware Yes No Yes Only permitted for drug-resistant epilepsy and muscle contractions in children (Rylie’s Law 2015)
Florida Yes No Yes No more than 8% THC; only permitted for certain conditions, such as seizures (2014)
Georgia Yes No Yes No more than 5% THC; only permitted for certain conditions, such as PTSD and chronic pain (Haleigh’s Hope Act 2015)
Hawaii Yes No Yes
Idaho Yes No No
Illinois Yes No Yes
Indiana Yes No Yes No more than .3% THC; only for drug-resistant epilepsy (2017) Notably one of the only states to officially legalize hemp-derived CBD (2018)
Iowa Yes No Yes No more than 3% THC; only for certain chronic conditions such as MS (2017)
Kansas Yes No No
Kentucky Yes No Yes
Louisiana Yes No Yes Only permitted for certain chronic conditions such as MS (2017)
Maine Yes Yes Yes
Maryland Yes No Yes
Massachusetts Yes Yes Yes
Michigan Yes Yes (as of November 2018) Yes
Minnesota Yes No Yes
Mississippi Yes No Yes No more than .5% THC; only for children with severe seizures (Harper Grace’s Law 2014)
Missouri Yes No Yes No more than .3% THC; only permitted for drug-resistant epilepsy (2014)
Montana Yes No Yes
Nebraska Yes No No
Nevada Yes Yes Yes Get Your Nevada MMJ Card here
New Hampshire Yes No Yes
New Jersey Yes No Yes
New Mexico Yes No Yes
New York Yes No Yes Get Your New York MMJ Card here
North Carolina Yes No Yes No more than .3% THC; only permitted for drug-resistant epilepsy (2014)
North Dakota Yes No Yes
Ohio Yes No Yes
Oklahoma Yes No Yes No more than .3% THC; only permitted for drug-resistant epilepsy (2015)
Oregon Yes Yes Yes
Pennsylvania Yes No Yes
Rhode Island Yes No Yes
South Carolina Yes No Yes No more than .9% THC; only permitted for drug-resistant epilepsy (Julian’s Law 2014)
South Dakota Yes No No
Tennessee Yes No Yes No more than .9% THC; only permitted for drug-resistant epilepsy (2015)
Texas Yes No Yes No more than .5% THC; only for drug-resistant epilepsy (2015)
Utah Yes No Yes No more than .3% THC; only permitted for drug-resistant epilepsy (Charlee’s Law 2014)
Vermont Yes No Yes
Virginia Yes No Yes No more than 5% THC; for “any diagnosed condition or disease determined by the practitioner to benefit from such use”
Washington Yes Yes Yes
West Virginia Yes No Yes
Wisconsin Yes No Yes Only permitted for certain conditions (2017)
Wyoming Yes No Yes No more than .3% THC; only permitted for drug-resistant epilepsy (2015)
District of Columbia Yes Yes Yes


Can I Buy CBD Online? Is It Legal to Mail CBD to My House?

If you live in a state where cannabis is illegal, you might have a difficult time acquiring legitimate CBD oil from a retail location. Most people turn to the Internet in an effort to buy CBD online, and typically find a range of stores — all claiming to sell the best stuff and ship it right to your house.

The problem is that there are no testing regulations for these products, so the effectiveness and safety of many items on the market has not been proven. Therefore, the onus falls on the manufacturer, to be honest about how much CBD is actually in the oil, where the starting material was grown and how it’s been extracted.

The FDA actually issued a warning for making false claims of effectiveness and medicinal benefits because so many illegitimate companies sell snake oil marketed as CBD that doesn’t do anything (here’s how to avoid that). Despite all these challenges, if you know what you’re buying, hemp-derived CBD oil as a product itself is not illegal, according to federal law.

Is CBD Legal to Buy Online? 

Yes, CBD is legal to purchase online — as long as it is derived from industrial hemp and not marijuana.

Is it Legal to Ship CBD? 

Yes, companies that comply with the 2014 Farm Bill and its 2018 update can ship their products anywhere in the United States. The 2014 bill differentiates marijuana from industrial hemp and permits the cultivation of hemp within the United States, and the 2018 version reaffirms this distinction in more concrete terms that distinguish industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity, not a federally scheduled controlled substance.

Is it Legal to Ship Edibles in the Mail

Yes, companies that comply with the above can ship edibles as well.

Which Companies are Compliant? 

Companies growing industrial hemp that contains less than 0.3% THC are in compliance with the law. The DEA has acknowledged that CBD is legal if it’s made from the non-psychoactive part of the cannabis plant (the mature hemp stalk) because that part of the plant falls outside the Controlled Substance Act’s definition of marijuana.

Interested in some of the legislative history of Obama’s Farm Bill, Trump’s follow-up, and the subsequent DEA comments on the Controlled Substances Act? Read our article on the legal background of cannabis vs hemp oil.

A Quick Note About CBD & Drug Testing

If drug testing is a part of the conditions of your employment, you might be concerned about the potential of CBD to cause you to test positive for THC. This isn’t an unfounded concern — however, there isn’t exactly a cut-and-dry way to answer it.

Much of the data we have about CBD is anecdotal, and its potential impact on drug testing is no exception.  There are very few peer-reviewed studies on the subject, but there appears to be a small risk of a false positive for some users. Avoiding full-spectrum products containing traces of THC can reduce your risk of a false positive, but that may not eliminate the risk entirely.

If you are concerned about passing a drug test, you should consider this potential risk when deciding whether CBD is right for you. To learn more about the science of CBD and drug testing, check out our article for a more thorough discussion of how to minimize your risk of a false positive.

How Do I Find Legitimate, Legal CBD Online Stores? 

Unfortunately, you’ll need to do a lot of digging and plenty of research. We have a great list of important questions you should ask any company you consider buying from in our CBD Buyer’s Guide.

What Companies Do We Trust? 

We have been involved in Colorado’s medicinal and legal cannabis industry since its inception, so we’ve seen the expansion from high-quality medicine to social commodity firsthand. Investment dollars have rushed into various sectors of the industry, and the primary focus is ROI. When people see green it’s easy to get excited and focus on the numbers instead of the patients.

Of all the companies we’ve interacted with and tested, Joy Organics has been the standout. Their vertically integrated, Colorado-based facility is as impressive as its product line. Joy Organics uses organic, non-GMO hemp to extract its CBD products, from tinctures to topicals to vape products to softgel capsules.  We’ve personally tested their product line, to great success, and we’ve reviewed the independent batch test results to confirm their high cannabinoid content.

Is CBD Legal? What You Need to Know About Cannabis Vs Hemp Oil

Yes, the possession and consumption of CBD is legal but it depends on where it comes from. This is where the difference between hemp and cannabis comes in – the distinction is nothing more than a legal one. Cannabis itself is a genus of flowering plant – in other words the scientific name for the plant. Traditional cannabis – pot, weed, marijuana, whatever you want to call it – is typically bred for high THC content which provides the psychoactive effects. Alternatively, hemp is bred and grown for the industrial use of fiber and seed, which is why hemp must legally contain below 0.3% THC – so that it stays below the threshold of inducing psychoactivity.

The Answer: CBD is legal as long as it is derived from hemp which is non-psychoactive and by definition, contains less than 0.3% THC.

If the CBD is derived from traditional cannabis (that tests above 0.3% THC), then it is not federally legal – even if your state has approved CBD programs in place. Does this mean you’ll get in trouble? No, especially not if you’re complying with the CBD legislation in your state – 44 of 50 states have legal CBD programs in place.

If the CBD is derived from industrial hemp (that tests below 0.3% THC), then it is federally legal for you to possess and consume the product. This is why it’s so important to know where the starting material is sourced when purchasing CBD products. This distinction is also why hemp-derived CBD is legal to ship to all 50 states – even stores like Whole Foods have begun stocking the stuff.

Why All the Confusion?

In short, there have been contradictory rulings, legislation, and statements made from various government organizations. In 2014, President Obama signed the Farm Bill of 2013 into law. Section 7606 of the act defines industrial hemp as distinct from marijuana and authorizes the cultivation of hemp for industrial and research purposes. This made it pretty clear that the cultivation of industrial hemp in the United States was and is legal. Although, the bill never addressed CBD specifically.  This bill was later reaffirmed by the 2018 Farm Bill, which was signed into law by President Trump and defined industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity distinct from marijuana with the full legal status of such a commodity.

Two years after the original law, in 2016, the DEA published a rule stating that all cannabis extracts, including CBD, are considered Schedule I substances. The rule stirred confusion regarding its application to CBD derived from hemp. Businesses and consumers demanded answers and it was challenged in court almost immediately. The businesses argued that the rule skirted established federal process – only Congress has the authority to create a statute.

Ultimately DEA spokesperson Russ Baer was forced to clarify: “If the products are derived from the non-psychoactive part of the marijuana plant, then you’re talking a non-controlled substance.”

Like many of the issues surrounding the cannabis industry, there is conflict regarding CBD legality at both the state and federal levels. But one thing is clear, the DEA’s 2016 rule was meant to target commercial business selling these products, not the end-consumers. Essentially as long as there are legitimate businesses selling tested CBD products that ensure safety and legality, you as the consumer have nothing to worry about.

A Quick Note About CBD & Drug Testing

If drug testing is a part of the conditions of your employment, you might be concerned about the potential of CBD to cause you to test positive for THC. This isn’t an unfounded concern — however, there isn’t exactly a cut-and-dry way to answer it.

Much of the data we have about CBD is anecdotal, and its potential impact on drug testing is no exception.  There are very few peer-reviewed studies on the subject, but there appears to be a small risk of a false positive for some users. Avoiding full-spectrum products containing traces of THC can reduce your risk of a false positive, but that may not eliminate the risk entirely.

If you are concerned about passing a drug test, you should consider this potential risk when deciding whether CBD is right for you. To learn more about the science of CBD and drug testing, check out our article for a more thorough discussion of how to minimize your risk of a false positive.