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The Difference Between U.S. and UK Laws Regarding CBD

Green Shoppers Written by Green Shoppers
Updated on June 21, 2019

CBD is a complicated matter – it’s no secret. There is legislation in place regarding this supplement, but news sites often misreport the truth, leaving consumers confused. What’s more, international governments simply cannot agree on CBD, leaving the internet riddled with confusing information about CBD laws from different countries. It’s all too easy to get confused.

The USA and the UK are two countries with a fairly large global influence. As English-speaking markets, consumers from these places often find themselves shopping from either a British or an American brand of CBD. But because the laws in the two countries are a little different, it is important to ensure that any American CBD you are buying is still legal in the UK.

So, how do these two countries regard CBD? And how do their rules differ?

General CBD Laws in the USA

In the USA, laws surrounding cannabidiol have been complicated for quite some time. It was only last year that the 2018 Farm Bill legalised hemp across the country. The Bill also legalized hemp-based products, including CBD.

Theoretically, this means that CBD is legal across the United States. However, things are not always as they seem. As individual states can pass their own legislation, the actual rules surrounding CBD can still differ from state to state.

This is particularly the case because states have different opinions on marijuana in general. Colorado, for example, is one of the many states where recreational marijuana is legal. Since any adult over the age of 21 can purchase THC-laden marijuana, it is obvious that citizens of the state can also purchase any CBD product of their choosing.

Plenty of other states, meanwhile, refuse to even put a medical marijuana programme in place, standing staunchly against any sort of legalisation. As such, CBD is placed in a precarious position, even though the products come from legal hemp.

Just like in the UK, CBD in the United States is not regulated. The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) is usually responsible for this sort of thing, but at the time of writing companies are still begging for regulation of the cannabidiol market.

At the moment, all eyes are on the FDA to see whether it will make any move to regulate CBD and keep consumers safe.

CBD Laws in Specific U.S. States

Each U.S. state has a slightly different opinion on cannabidiol. In theory, hemp-derived CBD products containing less than 0.3% THC are federally legal. Nevertheless, individual states may have attitudes and lawmakers who stand in the way of easy access to cannabidiol.

Here is a general outline of how each state feels about CBD. States where some form of marijuana is legal are marked with an asterisk (those with medical marijuana programmes not accepting patients, or those where “medical marijuana” only includes CBD, are marked with a double asterisk).

  • **Alabama: Jeff Sessions, a famously anti-marijuana individual, is the Senator of this state. A shop selling CBD in Birmingham in 2018 saw its owner arrested, and that should tell you how this state feels about CBD.
  • *Alaska: Marijuana is fully legal in Alaska, and so is CBD.
  • Arizona: CBD is popular and widespread in Arizona. Local CBD products are a good way to go.
  • **Arkansas: In the Natural State, CBD has been legal since 2017. General marijuana laws are strict, but CBD is accepted.
  • *California: As you can guess, recreational marijuana and CBD are both legal here. However, medical dispensaries will offer different options to a CBD store, so shop around.
  • *Colorado: Colorado has long been at the forefront of cannabis, and CBD is no exception – CBD is completely legal.
  • *Connecticut: Medical marijuana is alive and well here, and so CBD is legal to consume too. However, do not buy marijuana without a license, as you can be fined upwards of $150.
  • *Delaware: Medical marijuana has been legal in Delaware since 2014, as has CBD.
  • *Florida: Florida passed a medical marijuana law in 2016, but CBD is not perfectly accepted. Before the Farm Bill passed, authorities seized more than $500,000 in CBD products from a business in Tallahassee. Now that the Farm Bill is federal law, things might be looking up.
  • **Georgia: Georgia has pretty harsh marijuana laws, but patients with specific conditions may be allowed to possess “low THC oil.” Many Georgia residents do use CBD, even though laws appear to discourage it.
  • *Hawaii: Medical marijuana was legalized in 2000. CBD is legal, too, but it can be expensive unless you buy local.
  • Idaho: If you’re a CBD lover, Idaho is probably the worst state to find yourself in. THC is totally illegal, and any amount of THC – no matter how minimal – can land you in trouble with the law. Furthermore, the state has only just been brought in line with the Farm Bill, so police officers may not see hemp as legal.
  • *Illinois: Possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalised. Nevertheless, attitudes vary across this large state, so be sure to buy in a progressive area.
  • **Indiana: It is legal to trade and consume CBD here, but police have been slow to keep up. Arrests are still being made, so exercise caution.
  • *Iowa: Despite fairly harsh laws against cannabis, there are a few medical marijuana dispensaries in Iowa. As for CBD, it can only be sold with a dispensary license to patients. While non-patients may be able to use CBD in the state, it is best to avoid it in the Western part: This area is represented by Rep. Steve King, who has said that undocumented immigrants are usually marijuana mules.
  • Kansas: Technically, CBD is only legal if it has absolutely no THC here. Nevertheless, you may find trendy bars and restaurants in Kansas City selling CBD.
  • **Kentucky: Senator Mitch McConnell was a key player in legalising hemp. As such, Kentucky is a fairly CBD-friendly state. Still, enforcement might not be entirely consistent throughout the state.
  • *Louisiana: Even trace amounts of THC in CBD oil are illegal here. There may be some CBD stores in big cities, but lawmakers are not happy about it.
  • *Maine: Cannabidiol is now treated as a food rather than medicine, thanks to Governor Janet Mills. CBD can be enjoyed throughout the state.
  • *Maryland: In this extremely CBD-friendly state, you have no cause for concern.
  • *Massachusetts: CBD products are legal here.
  • *Michigan: Recreational marijuana is legal here, and so is CBD. Ordering online will likely cause no issues.
  • *Minnesota: Minnesota farmers seem excited by hemp’s potential as a crop. A CBD and hemp shop has now been opened in Minneapolis.
  • **Mississippi: Police in Mississippi are strongly opposed to federal guidance on CBD. It can only be used as a medical treatment.
  • *Missouri: CBD is legal to consume, but marijuana is not.
  • *Montana: There are no laws prohibiting CBD, but multiple neighbouring states are strongly against CBD.
  • Nebraska: Businesses are on the receiving end of hostility here for selling CBD, making it hard for consumers to buy it.
  • *Nevada: In a state where it is legal to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, CBD is, of course, legal.
  • *New Hampshire: CBD is technically illegal, but marijuana is a touchy subject. Ensure that whatever you buy is hemp-derived.
  • *New Jersey: While CBD is perfectly legal in the Garden State, it remains home to some of the worst-rated CBD stores in the country.
  • *New Mexico: In 2018, medical marijuana dispensaries were prohibited from selling hemp products if they were grown outside of this state. The state currently does not have a system for growing its own, and so the situation is complicated here.
  • *New York: In NYC, you can find CBD everywhere. However, it is illegal for restaurants and bars to sell CBD-infused edibles. Establishments have been warned, and later this year possession of such products will result in fines rather than confiscation.
  • **North Carolina: CBD oil is legal to buy in this state, but CBD edibles and supplements are strictly illegal.
  • **North Dakota: Hemp is considered to be a controlled substance under the North Dakota state constitution, making buying CBD a risk. Nevertheless, this state is undoubtedly more CBD-friendly than South Dakota.
  • **Ohio: Currently, CBD can only be sold in 56 licensed marijuana dispensaries. Ohio officials recently raided shops selling CBD and confiscated the products. Furthermore, a man was trialled in January 2019 for carrying CBD oil – not exactly a CBD-friendly state!
  • *Oklahoma: CBD and marijuana dispensaries require food licenses to make or sell consumable CBD products. Generally, the law is quite lax.
  • *Oregon: Oregon has one of the country’s biggest CBD industries.
  • *Pennsylvania: Hemp-derived CBD is fully legal, but anything made from marijuana has to go through the MMJ programme.
  • *Rhode Island: CBD is fully legal.
  • *South Carolina: CBD is only legal for the treatment of severe seizure disorders.
  • South Dakota: Governor Kristi Noem is a believer that the federal law is wrong and CBD should remain strictly illegal. The Attorney General also said that hemp and CBD are both still illegal. If you live here, it may not be worth the risk.
  • **Tennessee: At the time of writing, even minors under the age of 18 can purchase CBD here. Walgreens plans to stock the supplement, too. However, employers can fire employees for testing positive for THC after using CBD oil.
  • **Texas: Possessing CBD with even a limited amount of THC could warrant a felony charge. You can still buy it in this state, but it’s risky.
  • *Utah: CBD oil must be registered with the state and provide third-party lab reports in order to be legal.
  • *Vermont: Hemp is a booming business here, and now, so is CBD.
  • **Virginia: There are no specific laws about CBD, so it seems that it is legal under the Farm Bill.
  • *Washington: Buying CBD in Washington state is a fairly simple process.
  • *Washington, D.C: The nation’s capital offers a number of CBD stores where you can buy legal CBD products.
  • **West Virginia: CBD oil is legal in the state, but not necessarily widely accepted. For example, you may fail a workplace drug test and lose your job as a result of its use.
  • *Wisconsin: Very recently, Wisconsin has seen a shift in attitude towards CBD. It is now sold in stores in big cities.
  • *Wyoming: State law here makes it a felony to possess more than 0.3g of oil with even trace amounts of CBD. There is a lot of disagreement between legislators, so it is unlikely that the CBD issue will be resolved here for a while.

CBD Laws in the UK

In the UK, laws around CBD and cannabis are much more uniform; including in Scotland and Wales. Cannabidiol products are legal as long as they contain less than 0.2% THC and are derived from EU-approved strains of hemp.

In 2018, it was made legal for specialist doctors to prescribe cannabis-based medications for specific illnesses, but as of yet nobody has received such a prescription. As a result, there is still some confusion about the government’s stance on cannabis and CBD.

Once again, the UK has an unregulated market for CBD. While the MHRA oversees medicinal CBD products like Sativex, CBD food supplements sold in stores like Holland & Barrett receive no licensing or regulation. This, again, makes things quite confusing.

Generally, any CBD food supplement is deemed acceptable providing it adheres to the THC guidelines.

Final Thoughts on UK and USA CBD Laws

There are some similarities for CBD laws in Great Britain and in the USA. There are always some guidelines regarding how much THC is allowed in the product, and there is always a distinction between medical and recreational products.

The difference lies in clarity. Although Britain’s laws are still confusing, the water is nowhere near as murky as in the States. At least Britain has some degree of uniformity when it comes to cannabis and CBD legislation.

Laws regarding these substances appear to be changing by the second, so be sure to keep yourself as up to date as possible. When it comes to CBD, you never know what’s around the corner!