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CBD oil is everywhere these days – it’s available from your favorite retailers and pharmacies, and of course, it’s all the rage online. That’s because the therapeutic benefits of cannabidiol or CBD are numerous – treating anxiety, improving mood, promoting sleep, reducing pain, and much more. CBD is one of the hundreds of beneficial compounds found primarily in hemp, and also in cannabis or marijuana plants. Still, it’s received more attention lately because of significant changes to state and federal laws. The tricky part is, once you begin talking about CBD with your friends and family, it doesn’t take long for a debate to break out. It’s a hot topic that’s right up there with religion or politics. Many have deep-rooted opinions on the issue, and wherever you stand, you’re likely to get pushback. 

You may have questions like – ‘Is CBD legal?’ ‘What legislation regulates CBD?’ ‘Is CBD classified as hemp or marijuana?’ Let’s dive into these topics so you can keep the peace at your next family event or Zoom Happy Hour. 

Hemp and cannabis or marijuana are from the same plant species 

A lot of confusion about CBD comes from a lack of understanding about the differences between hemp, and cannabis or marijuana. First things first – hemp and cannabis or marijuana are from the same plant species – officially denoted by the Latin term, Cannabis Sativa. The common name for the plant species is the cannabis plant family. Read our first Knowledge Center article, CBD and other Cannabinoids, which goes into more detail. Because these plants are all part of the same family, this is often where the debate heats up. 

What is the U.S. Farm Bill?

Here we’ll set the record straight. Before the 2018 Farm Bill – the primary piece of legislation regulating industrial farming practices – all cannabis products were treated the same as marijuana, classified as a Schedule I drug by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). That all changed, however, with the signing of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill by President Trump. 

 Legalizing ‘industrial hemp’ and CBD

The Farm Bill now identifies different parts of the cannabis plant as hemp and other elements as cannabis or marijuana. The new legislation also distinguishes between marijuana and ‘industrial hemp’ practices.  In essence, according to U.S. law, the level of the psychoactive compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is now the defining line between hemp and marijuana. 

“The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp, defined as cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) and derivatives of cannabis with extremely low concentrations of the psychoactive compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (no more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis), from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).”  ~ U.S. Food and Drug Administration

What you need to know – CBD is federally legal, but check your state laws

In a nutshell, hemp-derived CBD is now legal at the federal level to consume and possess as long as products contain trace (less than 0.3%) THC and the products meet other labeling and quality standards. This move is helping CBD gain tremendous traction as a wellness superfood. However, things get more complicated at the state level. Keep in mind that only three states consider CBD illegal altogether – Idaho, Iowa, and South Dakota – while others have specific regulations that govern the manufacture and sale of products.

Keep your eyes open 

Experts estimate changes to the 2018 Farm Bill were made to differentiate between marijuana and hemp clearly and to legalize industrial hemp practices. As a result of this sea change, there continues to be significant growth in the marketplace when it comes to hemp-derived CBD products. That’s also why it’s no surprise that many consumers are turning to CBD oil as a natural and completely non-intoxicating alternative to THC cannabinoids and marijuana products. 

Today it’s common for manufacturers to infuse hemp-derived CBD into edibles, patches, tinctures, oils, topicals, and other products to bring about positive health benefits or people, and even pets! And, as legislation continues to open up and researchers dig deeper into the superpower of CBD, it appears the future looks bright on how these natural compounds can impact how our bodies function. Stay tuned, because the future looks bright!