The story of Cannabis is one wrought with road bumps, misconceptions, and odd turns that have prevented a substance with incredible healing properties from reaching its true potential. Legal CBD has come with challenges. Here you can learn and understand more about the history of CBD legalization and the current laws available.


Cannabis has varied in uses and purposes throughout its turbulent history. During the 18th century, it was a source of textiles, in the early 19th century utilized as a medicine, then deemed an illicit, harmful substance in the 20th century. As one out of over a hundred cannabinoids located in cannabis sativa L, CBD was first extracted in 1940 and characterized structurally in 1963. On June 25th, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally approved the first marijuana-derive pharmaceutical drug, known as Epidiolex (cannabidiol or CBD).


Then, on September 27th, 2018 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that future pharmaceuticals containing marijuana-derived CB containing 0.1% or fewer tetrahydrocannabinols would find its place in Schedule V of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).


Additionally, the sky appears to be the economical limit for CBD-infused products—whether hemp, marijuana, or pharmaceutical. With retail sales projected at a healthy $1.9 billion as of 2020, there is increasingly more reason to believe that CBD will spearhead the medical Cannabis movement.


Laws and Regulations with More Questions Than Answers


Epidiolex might be approved and scheduled by the DEA while growing in popularity and use throughout the United States, but regulatory statuses remain in utter disarray. Since the primary botanical source of CBD is cannabis sativa L, a harbinger of marijuana and hemp, it has thrown a wrench in determining its legal status.


Hemp has always been considered an industrial crop, often used for fabric, rope, and textile production. The controlled substances act (CSA) does not explicitly define or mention hemp-derived CBD, but still classifies it as a controlled substance unless there are exemptions in place.


From a regulatory standpoint, the difference between marijuana and hemp comes from its chemical composition. Concentrations of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the main cause of inebriation in cannabis. Hemp-derived CBD has low THC levels and therefore different regulatory rules and legal implications to its marijuana-derived counterpart. THC concentrations in hemp cannot legally exceed 0.3% in the United States.

The CSA launched an internal directive claiming all products and materials made from Cannabis are uncontrolled. It’s a muddled message, as it doesn’t outright say whether or not industrial hemp is lawful and therefore not considered a feasible source of CBD.


Furthermore, the DEA still classifies CBD from marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance unapproved for medical use. Even with medical supervision, many consider it unsafe and easy to abuse.


Although the DEA has made great strides by scheduling Epidiolex and officially accepting that marijuana has medical use, there haven’t been any actual regulatory changes to CBD at all.


What Exemptions Are in Place for CBD Derived from Hemp?


In 2014, an agricultural act defined “industrial hemp” as the cannabis sativa plant. This plant cultivation process is unique because is within the parameters of the state’s pilot research program containing THC-levels less than 0.3%.


The 2014 Farm Act nullifies the CSA and is only legal when industrial hemp cultivation meets the pilot program’s guidelines. Currently, 41 states have taken advantage of the act.


However, all States will be able to produce lawful hemp without the pilot program provided Congress passes The 2018 Hemp Bill introduced by Senator Mitch McConnell on April 12. Many expect the bill to pass successfully. If so, CBD’s legal status will be better defined.


There are also exemptions in place for CBD if it’s derived from non-psychoactive hemp imported into the US.


CBD products are available online and over-the-counter through the U.S., despite complicated FDA and DEA regulations.


Controversial CBD strands are only available to patients with paperwork living where medical marijuana laws exist.


Complications with CBD Labelling


Due to representatives in the cannabis industry disagreeing with the FDA’s refusal to classify CBD as a dietary supplement, there is even more confusion ahead.


The FDA has its own disarray to manage. They have competing priorities lack the enforce resources and funds to strictly uphold laws and regulations. Given the FDA’s lack of ability to adequately monitor the market, expect an abundance of mislabeled CBD products.


Researchers found 70% of online CBD products are labeled incorrectly. In 2015-2016, the FDA issued 25 warning letters to companies for violations. The FDA continues to send cease and desist warnings to those making unsubstantiated CBD claims.




Given the laundry list of healing properties found in CBD, the amount of confusion and roadblocks faced throughout the legalization process and regulatory status is outright mystifying.


The DEA and FDA can’t help but litter legislation with double-speak and confusion. This prevents efficient research necessary to learn. People in need of medical help must resort to CBD treatments without the assistance of healthcare providers.


Despite its negligible THC levels,  hemp derived CBD can’t escape the CSA’s archaic rules. Fortunately, the 2018 hemp act will put an end to some of the confusion.


The mislabeling of CBD products continues to be an issue. The FDA’s contradictory rules and lack of funding struggle to correct.


The approval of Epidiolex has come with its set of challenges. It is; however, a step in the right direction to help medical patients.





The Evolving Regulatory Status of Cannabidiol. From Project CBD:


DEA’s Marijuana Extract Rule Does Not Apply to Hemp. (2018, May 2). From U.S. Hemp Roundtable:


Agricultural Act of 2014. From Wikipedia:


5 Health Benefits of CBD Oil. From Canabol Medical Clinic:


Hemp Industry: CBD Marketed as Dietary Supplement Before Drug Trials. (2016, February 27). From Natural Products Insider: