CBD: legal, or not legal? Let’s break it down 

CBD products are increasingly widely available right across the United States, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely legal and above board everywhere you can buy it. CBD has a complicated legal status that is constantly changing, and you need to make sure you’re acting in accordance with federal law and state laws where you live. Currently, the United States federal government recognizes that there are two types of the cannabis plant – hemp and marijuana. Hemp plants contain much higher levels of CBD than marijuana plants, and lower levels of THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis). By contrast, marijuana plants contain high levels of THC and much lower levels of CBD. Some marijuana growers are also cultivating their plants to contain even higher levels of THC.  

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, more widely known as the Farm Bill, legalized hemp-derived CBD as long as it contains only a trace amount – less than 0.3% – of THC. CBD that has been derived from marijuana plants remains illegal. This is because marijuana, in its entirety, is classified as a Schedule I drug under federal law. The Farm Bill also details several other regulations governing the growth of legal hemp plants, and only CBD derived from plants grown in line with these regulations can be sold and used legally. 

What about the state level? State laws often contradict federal laws, and CBD is no exception. If you are not sure about its legal status where you live, you should check your local criminal code or ask your state agriculture department.  

Multiple legal gray areas mean it can be hard to know if your CBD products are OK to use, but there are a few things to look out for that might help.  

Firstly, you should make sure that any product is derived from hemp that has been grown in the United States (Zilis Ultracbg is a great example). Hemp that is grown overseas is not subject to United States cultivation regulations and may, therefore, be illegal. You should also look for a Certificate of Analysis for the product, which shows the results of lab testing that has been conducted on that product. 

 

If you are thinking about purchasing a CBD product and you cannot find this information, or the manufacturer is not transparent about what the product contains and how it has been grown, avoid the product completely. Not only could it be illegal for you to buy it, but due to a lack of labeling regulations, you could also be running the risk of the product containing more or less CBD or THC than is claimed on the packaging.   

Marijuana legality around the world 

Outside of the United States, the picture is just as varied, and constantly in a state of flux. While in recent years many countries have relaxed their marijuana laws, and more allowances have been made (specifically for the production of hemp-derived products), it remains important to understand what is and isn’t legal, and where.  

As discussions continue about the potential of CBD to support certain bodily functions, and due to its non-psychoactive nature, CBD products (specifically CBD products derived from hemp) are much more readily available than previously. 

CBD oil is legal in several countries. The full list is below. 

  • Austria 
  • Bulgaria 
  • Argentina 
  • Belize 
  • France 
  • Canada 
  • Estonia 
  • Colombia 
  • Costa Rica 
  • Chile 
  • Cyprus 
  • Croatia 
  • Hong Kong 
  • Ireland 
  • Latvia 
  • Italy 
  • Finland 
  • Czech Republic 
  • Georgia 
  • Germany 
  • Greece 
  • Guatemala 
  • Hungary 
  • Lithuania 
  • Luxembourg 
  • Malta 
  • Netherlands 
  • New Zealand 
  • Peru 
  • Poland 
  • Portugal 
  • Puerto Rico 
  • Romania 
  • Slovenia 
  • US Virgin Islands 
  • United Kingdom 
  • United States 
  • Uruguay 
  • Northern Ireland 
  • Norway 
  • Paraguay 
  • Turkey 
  • Japan 
  • South Africa 
  • Spain 
  • Sweden 
  • Switzerland 

CBD is not usually used recreationally due to being non-psychoactive. This means that many restrictions around the use of THC-containing products do not apply.  

Medical marijuana has recently been legalized in several countries including Australia, New Zealand, Israel, North Macedonia, Finland, Chile, Norway, Peru, Colombia, Thailand and several countries in the European Union; Luxembourg, Italy, Greece, Germany, Cyprus, Croatia, the Netherlands, and Poland. 

There are several other countries where marijuana has not been legalized but has instead been decriminalized – there is a subtle difference between these two terms that must be understood to ensure you’re acting within local laws. 

Decriminalization means that a country, state, or area has either changed or repealed laws that make possession and use of marijuana a criminal activity. However, that doesn’t mean that it is legal for you to do so; legalization would mean that those laws had been abolished altogether. 

There are several countries that have decriminalized, but not legalized, marijuana. Even then the level of decriminalization varies; some places have decriminalized marijuana entirely, whereas some allow you to have only a small amount or use certain derivative products. Decriminalization means that if you are ‘caught’ with a decriminalized amount of marijuana, you won’t be prosecuted. However, you can still be arrested. In legal countries, you will not be arrested at all unless you are not following that area’s specific regulations. 

Even if a country has legalized medical marijuana, it is unlikely that it will also be legal for recreational use. The ongoing stigma around cannabis use means that recreational legalization is pretty far behind; however, marijuana is legal for medical and recreational use in Canada and Uruguay. It is also legal in eleven US states. 

Ongoing decriminalization and legalization of recreational marijuana does not mean that possessing it illegally has few if any consequences; in fact, in some countries, the penalty for possession or use of marijuana can be severe. You could end up being sentenced to several years in prison. 

 

 

 

 

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