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

cbd by state

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 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. Alternatively, thanks to the 2014 Farm Bill, hemp-derived CBD is legal in all 50 states as well as Washington D.C. 

As if that wasn’t confusing enough, 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 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 proves 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 2014 Farm Bill, which allowed universities and state agricultural departments to start growing hemp. 

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 2014 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 2014 Farm Bill and can be ordered online

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

Colorado

Yes

Yes

Yes

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

New Hampshire

Yes

No

Yes

New Jersey

Yes

No

Yes

New Mexico

Yes

No

Yes

New York

Yes

No

Yes

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

 

   

Where to buy:

CBD From Ambary Gardens or Visit the CBD Help Guide