June 24, 2018

   As the laws surrounding marijuana change, the legal cannabis industry continues to sweep across the nation one state at a time. Although the federal status on cannabis has not changed, a growing segment of cannabis and hemp-based products are proliferating throughout the nation, even in states where cannabis is still illegal, which leaves many to wonder, “Is CBD illegal in the United States?”

   In short, “Cannabidiol products extracted from hemp can be legally shipped to all 50 states in the US.” Unfortunately, the full answer is about as muddy as the rest of our current political environment.

Understanding the Differences

   Before diving into the laws and politics of hemp production in the United States, there are some basic differences about cannabis and hemp which must be understood. Despite being the same plant, there are some differences in the final product.

   First, not all cannabinoids are created equal. In the past, people typically consumed marijuana by smoking it or eating it, and in either case, they used whole plant matter which contains more than 400 active compounds. While people have been using cannabis and other herbs for their medical benefit for thousands of years, modern technology and research shows many of these compounds can be isolated and studied to understand their full range of therapeutic benefit.


   Dr. Roger Adams and his team were the first to discover Cannabidiol, or CBD, in 1940 at the University of Illinois. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, was first extracted a couple of years later in 1942 by the same team of researchers. However, these cannabinoids were not fully explained until 1963, by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam. Thanks to the research done by Dr. Mechoulam and his team of researchers, today we understand how the individual cannabinoids can elicit very different responses by binding to different receptors within the central nervous system.


  • Tetrahydrocannabinol, THC – This is the compound responsible for the psychoactive effects from marijuana. While it, too, is thought to have a broad range of medical potential, many people prefer to avoid the cerebral side effects of THC.


  • Cannabidiol, CBD – On the other hand, this cannabinoid is 100% non-psychoactive and is currently being studied for a vast array of medical uses, as well as a health and wellness dietary supplement. In fact, CBD can even counter the psychoactive effects of THC to mitigate the cerebral high, while allowing all the benefit of the compound.

Cannabis vs. Hemp

   Cannabis sativa is a particular species of plant. Regardless of what you call it, (cannabis, marijuana, ganja, hemp, or weed) the species of the plant is the same. However, there are a few key differences which helps to determine whether a plant is considered a legal hemp or an illicit cannabis:

   Cannabis plants are typically grown indoors, although they can flourish outside as well. Northern California is well-known for its “Emerald Triangle” of legal outdoor cannabis grows. The plants are nurtured, fed nutrients, provided adequate light, and consistent growing conditions. These plants are specifically bred to produce high levels of cannabinoids, including THC.

   Hemp, on the flipside, is an industrial crop grown in large outdoor fields. The plants grow more like an agricultural crop than individual plants. These strains of cannabis sativa produce extracts with much lower levels of THC, and higher levels of CBD.

The legal classification defining the differences between hemp and cannabis is fairly straight forward:

  • Hemp is defined as having a THC content of .3% or less.
  • Cannabis is anything containing more than .3% THC.

   Simply stated, cannabis can create a psychoactive effect, hemp cannot. Hemp simply does not contain enough THC to activate the cerebral effects well-known with its infamous counterpart.

Muddling Through the Laws

   President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014, otherwise known as the 2014 Farm Bill. Specifically, Section 7606 authorizes institutions of higher education or the state’s own department of agriculture to cultivate hemp for the purpose of research and pilot programs. In other words, the states can regulate their own hemp production. Hemp products produced under this Farm Bill are legal to sell nationwide.

   This law paved the way for many hemp producers to manufacture and sell cannabidiol products as dietary supplements. Being legally extracted from industrial hemp, CBD oils and other CBD-based products consistently contain less than .3% THC. Many of the products contain 100% CBD with absolutely no THC at all.

   Additionally, despite the Schedule 1 status which states the plant has no medicinal value, the US Government, specifically the Department of Health, holds patent #6630507 which states,

“Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new-found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and HIV dementia. Non-psychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention. A particular disclosed class of cannabinoids useful as neuroprotective antioxidants is formula (I) wherein the R group is independently selected from the group consisting of H, CH.sub.3, and COCH.sub.3.”

   Obviously, even the different departments within the federal government cannot agree to the potential of the potent botanical.

   Until the research provides definitive studies, CBD producers can only legally sell the substance as an unregulated dietary supplement, and cannot make claims stating the products can cure, treat, or otherwise prevent disease. Ironically, GW Pharmaceuticals, a pharmaceutical company based in Europe, is on the cusp of receiving US FDA approval for the first ever CBD pharmaceutical designed for young, severely epileptic patients.

   So, while CBD may not be a cure-all for everyone, evidence and anecdotal stories from consumers do show CBD may have therapeutic potential as an herbal supplement for some.

New Hemp Measure May Clear the Water

   The US Senate voted unanimously for legislation to legalize hemp production on a national level. Senators all agreed that the potential of the hemp industry is booming. In fact, majority leader McConnell stated for the bill,

"Industrial hemp is an agricultural commodity that has been used for centuries to produce many innovative industrial and consumer products, including soap, fabric, textiles, construction materials, clothing, paper, cosmetics, food, and beverages," the resolution states. "Industrial hemp holds great potential to bolster the agricultural economy of the United States."

  With the passing of this bill, the growth of the hemp industry is inevitable, and consumers will likely find even more products flooding the market. Additionally, passage of this bill would most certainly remove all doubt about the legality of hemp-derived products.

Trust Your Supplier

   With the influx of so many new products, it can be difficult to determine which are quality products and which aren’t. In fact, a recent study showed many CBD products were not properly tested or labeled. Additionally, the temptation of easy money in a health-conscious world creates opportunity for shady business practices. Many “fly-by-night” producers may be using imported hemp grown without any kind of regulations and who knows what kind of chemicals may have been used during the plant’s life cycle.

   Ordering products from a trusted supplier like Dr. Hemp’s can help take the guess work out of wondering what’s in your CBD product. All of the products at Dr. Hemp’s are 100% THC-free and our brands are comprised of some of the industries top ranking, most awarded companies like O.pen Vape Tribe, and PHC.

   Naturally, we can’t tell you that CBD will absolutely help with every ailment, but we’ve heard from a lot of consumers who will tell you CBD changed their lives. Start your regimen with a totally legal, 100% THC-free, hemp-derived CBD supplement today to decide for yourself.


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