CBD Products and Regulations

Author: Jason Beverly

Despite a vitriolic political environment, one of the surprise consensus bills to come out of Washington is the landmark Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. More commonly known as the Farm Bill, much of the law involves rules and regulations regarding the broader agricultural industry. But buried within the granularity was a critical concession: for the first time, the federal government legalized industrial hemp and hemp-derived products.

Previously, in the equally groundbreaking 2016 general election, a record number of states voted for cannabis legalization to varying degrees. Although an impressive victory for botanical advocates, the various measures only covered the individual states forwarding the legislation. Even then, under federal law, these states were essentially breaking the law, technically subjecting themselves to the risk of federal crackdowns.

However, states like Colorado legislated recreational cannabis prior to the Farm Bill. And during the Obama administration, the U.S. government implemented a de facto permissibility – a don’t ask, don’t tell policy, if you will. That said, the Farm Bill made this initiative official, thereby eliminating confusion.

cbd oil dropper with tincture bottle on top of hemp leaf

Or that was the intention: as with most things the government does, unintended consequences seem to be the rule and not the exception. While CBD is a legitimate and federally protected retail product, the issue remains a dynamic one. To help clear up some confusion, we’ve put together some helpful insights to clear up certain myths.

Myth #1: Cannabis Is Legal

Contrary to popular assumptions about the 2018 Farm Bill, cannabis is not legal; far from it, actually. What is legal, as we mentioned above, is industrial hemp and its derivative products such as CBD oil tinctures, capsules and gummies. From a chemistry standpoint, hemp is a strain of the cannabis sativa plant species. Federal law adds one critical defining characteristic: legal hump must contain no more than 0.3% THC content.

This is the reason why you see many products advertised as containing no or trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive cannabinoid also found in the cannabis plant. So long as industrial hemp or any hemp-derived product meets the THC content requirement, the federal government permits its sales (depending on individual state laws).

Myth #2: CBD Is Legal

This is a very common misconception due to the proliferation of cannabidiol-infused products. Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to talk about organic health products without someone mentioning CBD. While advocates of cannabis-based therapies have longed for this transition, it has also created serious misconceptions regarding federal law.

Under the language of the Farm Bill, CBD is technically illegal. That’s because cannabidiol is among the most commonly distributed cannabinoid within the cannabis plant. As we mentioned in the first myth discussion, cannabis is not legal. What is legal is hemp and only hemp derived CBD.

The reason why CBD is legal is because the products that you see advertised and distributed are hemp-derived CBD. But please do not assume that all CBD is legal. Only if CBD is sourced according to Farm Bill standards will it meet the federal exemption.

Thus, it’s crucial that you buy CBD only from reputable dealers such as Nug Republic.

Myth #3: State-Legalized Medical or Recreational Marijuana Is Legal

As we mentioned at the top, an unprecedented 2016 general election saw several states forwarding legal marijuana initiatives. The midterm election of 2018 further bolstered the enthusiasm toward cannabis legalization. Thus, with the Farm Bill, people may assume that medical or recreational marijuana has been legalized for the states that passed favorable laws.

This is absolutely a false assumption: if you are using marijuana (defined as any non-hemp derived cannabis material), you are violating federal law. It does not matter if you are in compliance with local or state laws. The Farm Bill only legalized industrial hemp and hemp-derived products.

It’s important to note that the federal government still classifies non-exempt cannabis as a Schedule I drug, meaning that enforcement will be conducted by the Drug Enforcement Agency. Among the many precautionary notes, you absolutely must not travel with marijuana (medical and recreational) across state lines.

Myth #4: All CBD Products Are Regulated by the FDA

According to the Congressional Research Service report, “FDA Regulation of Cannabidiol (CBD) Products,” the Food and Drug Administration regulates many CBD and hemp-derived cannabis products. However, the report does not say that the FDA regulates all CBD products, which is a crucial distinction.

For one thing, the FDA does not have the most favorable stance toward CBD products, as cannabidiol is often used as an ingredient in edibles or as the active compound in topicals. Primarily, the FDA objects to CBD-infused products because cannabis is the key ingredient in Epidiolex, the first and so far only FDA-approved cannabis-based drug.

Under the U.S. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, a compound that’s an active ingredient of an FDA-approved drug cannot be used as an ingredient in retail food products. Furthermore, the complexity of cannabis regulation in the U.S. means that FDA oversight over legal CBD remains a tricky issue.

We can, however, clarify one point: currently, the FDA does not endorse any statement made by CBD manufacturers regarding treatment of specific diseases or conditions. Any such producer risks severe penalties and it may imply that the product does not meet regulatory muster in other areas.

Again, we must stress this point: always buy your CBD from reputable dealers.

Myth #5: You Can Travel Anywhere in the U.S. with CBD

This is the most confusing myth because technically, it’s not a myth: based on the language of the Farm Bill, you should be able to travel with (even fly with) legal, industrial-hemp derived CBD products.

But the reason why we urge caution and vigilance is because practically speaking, federal agencies don’t always work well together. And in the case of CBD laws and regulation, various agencies – even down to the individual officer – may have different interpretations and therefore may impose penalties where none is warranted.

Only one aspect of traveling with CBD is rock-solid: if your child uses Epidiolex (the drug is designed for children with severe seizure disorders), you may have the drug in your checked or carry-on luggage. But in any cases involving carrying CBD across state lines, you should carry your paperwork.

Better yet, just buy CBD products in your destination state or order CBD online and have it shipped there.

Finally, please be aware that individual states can carry stricter CBD laws than the federal mandate imposes. Therefore, please understand your destination states’ laws and regulations before thinking about carrying CBD there.

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About Jason Beverly

Jason Beverly is the Digital Marketing Director of The CBD Benefits, an informational website helping people learn about CBD. He's been researching, developing and writing about CBD & other cannabinoids for over 5 years. Jason uses CBD daily to treat for pain, anxiety and depression.

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