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The legal status of CBD in North America

North America accounts for the largest CBD market across the globe with a revenue share of 37.3%. All because of the comparatively liberal regulatory stance on cannabis products, the industry in this region is expected to grow at a staggering CAGR of 27.7%. The presence of big-box retailers, an increasing number of start-ups, and growing clinical trials are expected to contribute to the regional market growth.

However, legislation on the selling, marketing, and consumption of CBD products still remains unclear from one region to another. Within countries, there are varying Federal and State Laws. Uncertainty over the laws and regulations piles up even further when food and drug regulatory bodies are taken into consideration.

While Central America and the Caribbean region have extremely restrictive laws, even global leaders of the cannabis industry, Canada and the US are still stuck in regulatory limbo.

One among the many reasons for the uncertainty over CBD is THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, a chemical compound notoriously known for its psychoactive properties and is found in cannabis plants along with Cannabidiol or CBD.

CBD vs THC – The Thing That Makes It Illegal

CBD or Cannabidiol is a chemical compound found in cannabis plants. It is associated with positive health outcomes such as stress relief, seizure control, and pain management. 

THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is a psychoactive chemical compound found in the cannabis plants. It gives you a feeling of getting high. It can be addictive and one can become dependent on it. 

So, what happens when CBD, which is amazing for health, does not get you high and THC, which gets you super high are found in the same plant? Chaos! 

Chaos because no country wants to get their citizens high and in a way, help them procure drugs. In fact, the US classifies cannabis plant type- marijuana, a Schedule I drug.

Every country has figured to deal with this chaos in their own way. The broad categories of dealing with this chaos are:

  1. Medical Use of Cannabis 
  2. Recreational Use of Cannabis 
  3. Industrial Use

Under medical use, the THC level is monitored or the cannabis quantity per person is controlled. The recreational use of cannabis is also determined by the quantity of cannabis and THC limit that an individual can possess. The third category is based on cannabis’s industrial usage such as fabrics,food, & cosmetic production. 

Based on these specific categories, we can now move on to understand the legal usage of CBD across North American sub-region countries. 

The Law Across North America Sub-Regions

United States, Canada, and Mexico. These countries have CBD laws which are more difficult to understand than the big bang theory! 

To simplify, we have created a table to briefly state what is legal and what’s not but remember the chaos? We will pick each country to make things less chaotic.

CountryMedical UseRecreational UseIndustrial Use
Canada Legal LegalLegal
MexicoLegalIllegalLegal
United States of AmericaLegalLegal/IllegalLegal 

Canada

On 17 October, 2018 in Canada, Cannabis Act came into immediate effect following which it became the second country, after Uruguay, to legalize  the cultivation, possession, acquisition and consumption of cannabis and its by-products. It is also the first G7 and G20 nation to do so. 

Amongst the 23 North American countries and in fact in the world, Canada is the most CBD friendly. 

Under the law, CBD products can only be sold by:

  • provincially or territorially-authorized cannabis retailer
  • federally-licensed seller of cannabis for medical purposes

For medicinal use or recreational use, anyone who’s 18 years of age or above can possess 30 grams of dried cannabis. In case, your medical condition requires you to use above 30 grams,  then you need proof of legal marijuana permit. 

The Industrial Hemp Regulations regulates industrial use of hemp to sell seeds and its derivatives for use in cosmetics, food. A hemp producer cannot extract CBD unless they have a cannabis processing or research license. 

The THC limit for edible cannabis, cannabis extract, and cannabis topicals are defined as the following:

  • Eating and Drinking (edible cannabis)- 10 mg of THC per package 
  • Ingesting (cannabis extract)- 10 mg of THC per unit (such as a capsule) or dispensed amount or 1000 mg of THC per package
  • For hair, nail, or skin (topicals)- 1000 mg of THC per package

Beyond the aforementioned rules and regulations, please note that each territory and province has its own law in place which needs to be followed. For example, in British Columbia you can buy CBD products online or in-store via government or any approved licensed organization whereas in Nunavut, you can only purchase CBD products online via government approved stores. 

Yes, Canada is CBD friendly but we didn’t mean it was going to be easy! 

Now let’s take a look at what the US government has in store for CBD users. 

The United States of America

So far, we didn’t really have to differentiate between hemp and marijuana but we will now because the US Federal laws are governed by it. 

According to Section 297A of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, hemp is a type of cannabis plant which has no more than 0.3% of THC. After the Farmer’s Bill, 2018 hemp got out of the Schedule I drug category. 

Controlled Substances Act defines marijuana with no THC limit in place. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, it is a Schedule I drug. It is prohibited across the US.

So, are CBD products legal?

Hemp derived CBD products containing less than 0.3% of THC are legal under the Federal Law. However, they may be illegal as per the State laws. 

Marijuana derived CBD products are illegal under the Federal law but may be legal under many State Laws. 

Don’t worry! To clear the hazy picture, here’s a map and a table for you.

Please note: Laws can certainly change quickly so please research your own State laws to see if CBD is right for you. 

This table will help you identify where recreational marijuana/weed is legal. Along with that, you will clearly understand the answer to your question- is CBD legal everywhere in the US? Please note that you might wanna check out the ever-changing State laws nevertheless just to be on the safe side.

State Marijuana derived CBD for medical use Hemp derived CBD Marijuana for recreational use Quick Note
Alabama Legal Legal Illegal All THC is illegal
Alaska Legal Legal Legal
Arizona Legal Legal Legal
Arkansas Legal Legal Illegal
California Legal Legal Legal
Colorado Legal Legal Legal
Connecticut Legal Legal Illegal
Delaware Legal Legal Illegal
Florida Legal Legal Illegal
Georgia Legal Legal Illegal THC products are mostly illegal
Hawaii Legal Legal Illegal
Idaho Illegal Illegal but can be legal if derived from hemp with 0% THC and must come from specific hemp parts Illegal All THC is illegal
Illinois Legal Legal Legal
Indiana Illegal Legal Illegal All THC is illegal
Iowa Illegal Legal for selective medical conditions Illegal
Kansas Illegal Legal Illegal Medical CBD is legal with less than 0.5% THC
Kentucky Illegal Legal Illegal Non THC, CBD oil is legal for treating only for severe seizure disorder
Luisiana Legal Legal Illegal
Maine Legal Legal Legal
Maryland Legal Legal Illegal
Massachusetts Legal Legal Legal
Michigan Legal Legal Legal
Minnesota Legal Legal Illegal
Mississippi Legal Legal Illegal
Missouri Legal Legal Illegal
Montana Legal Legal Legal
Nebraska Illegal Legal Illegal All THC illegal
Nevada Legal Legal Legal
New Hampshire Legal Legal Illegal
New Jersey Legal Legal Legal
New Mexico Legal Legal Legal
New York Legal Legal Legal
North Carolina Illegal Legal Illegal CBD extract with low or no THC for epilepsy treatment
North Dakota Legal Legal Illegal
Ohio Legal Legal Illegal
Oklahoma Legal Legal Illegal
Oregan Legal Legal Legal
Pennsylvania Legal Legal Illegal
Rhode Island Legal Legal Illegal
South Carolina Legal Legal Illegal
South Dakota Illegal Illegal Illegal
Tennessee Illegal Legal- Only CBD for medical use Illegal
Texas Illegal Legal Illegal CBD and Low THC for intractable epilepsy
Utah Legal Legal Illegal
Vermont Legal Legal Legal
Virginia Legal Legal Legal
Washington Legal Legal Legal
Washington DC Legal Legal Legal
West Virginia Legal Legal Illegal
Wisconsin Illegal Legal Illegal
Wyoming Illegal Legal Illegal

What concerns State and Federal governments about illegalizing CBD?

The laws vary because of the nature of THC and a general distrust by lawmakers/public about the popular health outcomes of cannabis or hemp.

FDA has given green signal to only one prescription CBD based drug called Epidiolex. A seizure drug used in treating Dravet syndrome despite CBD’s many other suspected benefits. 

The distrust is hard to break and despite the legal status of hemp across all States & under the Federal law, authorities continue to confuse pure CBD based products with THC. 

Also, with rampant mislabeling of CBD, the skepticism continues. Therefore, buying products with 0% THC from a verified manufacturer  is significant to truly endure the benefits of CBD and avoid any legal battles. Still worried about the question- are CBD gummies legal?  😉

It is true that the US laws are complex and may seem like a headache but it will change soon with the help of citizens, law makers, and the CBD advocates. The Federal Law, State Law, and FDA’s rules will align, leaving no legal grey areas for consumers or manufacturers to worry about until then stay informed with Ozia! 

Moving forward is Mexico. Don’t worry, their law is comparatively easier to decipher and follow.

Mexico 

CBD Federal law is governed by the Federal Committee for Protection from Sanitary Risks (Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios) or COFEPRIS.  The import and export rules are guided by COFEPRIS.

CBD for medical use with a doctor’s prescription and less than 1% THC is completely legal in Mexico since 2017. 

Despite Mexico’s 2018 Supreme Court ruling (which was supported by staunch cannabis advocates such as Fernando Beluazaran) that it was unconstitutional to prohibit cannabis use for personal development, the marijuana usage continues to be illegal- medical and recreational. 

The struggle to legalize all forms of cannabis is not new. Mexico since 2015 has been trying to fully legalize cannabis use with rules and guidelines with an aim to shift power from the drug mafias to retailers and farmers. This narrative has been reiterated by former President Vicente Fox too. 

If it is fully legalized, the move will create many job opportunities and boost the economy. It will also make it one of the largest markets in the world for cannabis! 

There Is A Wind of Change But Its Slow 

The fight to legalize will continue across North American subregions and the continent itself. Lawmakers, advocates, & the public are increasingly demanding not only decriminalization but also full fledged legalization of cannabis. This persistent and resilient fight will hopefully reach a final point soon to empower its citizens.

Until then we will keep you updated about the legal map of North America. Stay tuned and if you’re from the US, you can get our CBD products with 0% THC shipped today. What’s more? If you subscribe today, you can save upto 20% on your order 🙂

References

Anderson, L. A. (2012, October 28). List of Schedule 1 Drugs. Drugs.com; Drugs.com. https://www.drugs.com/article/csa-schedule-1.html

Bonn-Miller, M. O., Loflin, M. J. E., Thomas, B. F., Marcu, J. P., Hyke, T., & Vandrey, R. (2017). Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA, 318(17), 1708–1709. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2017.11909

Bort, E. G.-P., Ryan, Garber-Paul, E., & Bort, R. (2021, April 22). The United States of Weed. 

Rolling Stone. https://www.rollingstone.com/feature/cannabis-legalization-states-map-831885/

Branch, L. S. (2020, October 17). Consolidated federal laws of Canada, Cannabis Act. Laws-Lois.justice.gc.ca. http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-24.5/

Cannabidiol Market Size Analysis | CBD Industry Growth Report, 2025. (2019). Grandviewresearch.com. https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/cannabidiol-cbd-market

How Many Countries Are There In North America? (n.d.). WorldAtlas. Retrieved June 3, 2021, from https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/how-many-countries-are-there-in-north-america.html#h_46963101318181615915277725

https://twitter.com/ferbelaunzaran/status/1058366038201524229. (n.d.). Twitter. Retrieved June 3, 2021, from https://twitter.com/ferbelaunzaran/status/1058366038201524229

Janikian, M., & Janikian, M. (2017, September 14). Legal Pot In Mexico: Everything You Need to Know. Rolling Stone; Rolling Stone. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/legal-pot-in-mexico-everything-you-need-to-know-194984/

Johnson, R. (2019). Defining Hemp: A Fact Sheet. Congressional Research Service. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R44742.pdf

Legal Marijuana Resources | State and Federal. (n.d.). Marijuana and the Law. https://marijuanaandthelaw.com/

Lozano, A. V. (2021, May 6). Mexico moves closer to becoming the world’s largest legal cannabis market. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/mexico-moves-closer-becoming-world-s-largest-legal-cannabis-market-n1259519

Marijuana Policy Project. (2018). 1. MPP; MPP. https://www.mpp.org/

McMinimy, M. A., Angadjivand, S., & Regmi, A. et al. (2019). The 2018 Farm Bill (P.L. 115-334): Summary and Side-by-Side Comparison. Congressional Research Service. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R45525

North America Hemp-derived Cannabidiol Market Report, 2027. (n.d.). Www.grandviewresearch.com. Retrieved June 4, 2021, from https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/north-america-hemp-derived-cannabidiol-market

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