Is CBD legal? It depends on who you ask
“CBD is the new avocado toast,” stated the caption on an Instagram that recently appeared in my feed—a photo of a chalkboard outside at a Williamsburg, Brooklyn café advertising a “magical CBD latte.”
CBD (or cannabidiol), if you’ve not yet encountered it, is a non-psychotropic chemical compound that occurs naturally in cannabis, and is currently touted in everything from pet-calming drops to ache-alleviating muscle rubs and, yes, “magical” lattes. You can drink it, drop it, smoke it, spray it, eat it, and rub it into your skin. Fans say it eases their pain, insomnia, and anxiety. It’s the active ingredient in an epilepsy medication nearing US Food and Drug Administration approval. And research suggests it may even help curb the brain damage caused by opioid addiction.
With these benefits, of course, comes the potential for financial windfalls. The Hemp Business Journal reports the US market for hemp-based CBD products—a category that was not on its radar five years ago—was worth $190 million in 2017, and by its estimates could increase a cool 700% by 2020.
But is it legal?
It depends on where you are, where your CBD came from, and, frankly, who you ask.
“So much of this is operating in the absence of regulation, and states take widely different approaches,” says Daniel Shortt, an attorney who focuses on cannabis law in Seattle, Washington. “You have to know your local law.”
Where is CBD legal?
If you’re 21 and live in a state where recreational cannabis is legal, then you can use CBD that comes from marijuana or hemp with impunity. Congratulations! If you live in a state where medical cannabis is legal, and you have a prescription, you are similarly golden. For everyone else in the US, the laws surrounding CBD are an