Many people are confused about the laws on cannabis in America – matters are complicated by the country’s complicated political system, and the large variety of cannabis and hemp-based product. In this article, we are going to address the uncertainties and most common questions that people have, so that you know what’s legal and what’s not, and so that you can make purchases with confidence.
The difference between state and federal law
Federal law is controlled in Washington DC, and is the most supreme law in the land. However, states are also able to make many important decisions which affect their own decisions, including on cannabis. And it is state level reform which has paved the way for the massive growth in the medicinal and recreational cannabis industries that we have witnessed throughout the 2010s.
Cannabis reform first began in the United States back in the 1990s, with California passing a medical cannabis bill, following the approval of Proposition 215 by the state’s voters. Colorado then became the first state to legalize pot for recreational use in January 2014. As of March 2019, medical and recreational cannabis is legal in 33 and 10 states respectively.
In recreational states, all cannabis products are legal, no matter the psychoactive THC content, and can be purchased by anybody over the age of 21. However, in medical states, there are tighter restrictions, with many states having limits on THC, and only allowing approved patients to buy cannabis – the exact rules differ from state to state.
Technically, federal government agencies can override state law and seize cannabis products being sold in dispensaries, and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has not been above this in the past. However, attitudes have changed, and the DEA has more pressing issues to worry about. But technically, according to the Controlled Substances Act, cannabis is illegal and a Schedule 1 substance, and as are all of the compounds derived from it.
However, there are some critical exceptions regarding hemp-based CBD wholesale products, which explain why the industry is flourishing throughout the nation.
What does federal law say on hemp-based CBD?
Hemp-derived products have been legal to manufacture, distribute, purchase and use since 2014, thanks to the Agriculture Improvement Act (otherwise known as the Farm Bill). The critical caveat here is that these products are only legal if the THC content is lower than 0.3 percent. The threshold is set at this low level to stop people from buying these products to use them recreationally.
However, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the hemp-derived CBD market until 2018, because until then there was no specific mention of CBD – just that there was a restriction on the amount of THC permitted. With the Controlled Substances Act deeming CBD to be illegal, there was a clear confliction in the law. This happens more than you might think, and is simply a result of politicians not fully understanding cannabis. This was addressed in the 2018 farm bill, which makes it explicitly clear that products made with hemp can contain CBD.
With federal law giving the go-ahead to CBD, all American citizens can purchase products online or at various stores. People can buy creams, vape juices, edibles, concentrates and even treats and oils for their pets. The industry is immensely popular, and more growth is anticipated as the public becomes more educated about CBD and the benefits of cannabinoids.
The hemp-based CBD market is split up into two main types of product: full-spectrum CBD and CBD-isolate. The former tends to be more expensive because they are not just made with CBD, but by taking a full-plant extract that also includes other non-psychoactive cannabinoids, including traces of THC. There is some evidence that hemp and cannabis work better when it’s taken as one, as opposed to when cannabinoids are separated. However, many are against consuming any amount of a psychoactive substance and prefer to stick with CBD-isolate products.
But that’s the beauty of the CBD industry – there is a product for everybody.
What’s next for CBD and cannabis in the USA?
The success of CBD concentrate wholesale and other hemp-derived CBD choices has helped to transform Americans’ overall view of cannabis. Over the past few years, for the first time since polling began, the electorate is in favor of total cannabis legalization. While the current administration is not planning such an overhaul at this time, with the 2020 presidential election looming, federal cannabis reform could be one of the biggest topics for debate.