Legal Status of Hemp

November 15, 2018 • 2 min read
Summary

What are the differences between hemp, marijuana, hemp oil, and CBD oil?

What is the Difference Between Hemp Oil and Marijuana?

Let’s start with marijuana, because it is a big part of this conversation. While state laws are rapidly evolving in the direction of legal marijuana, federal law and many state laws still say marijuana is illegal. Marijuana is defined in these laws as all parts of the cannabis plant – with the relevant exception being the stalk and seeds (known as hemp), provided they contains less than 0.3% THC (the psychoactive substance in marijuana).

A product derived from hemp (stalk and seeds) is not marijuana. So, hemp oil is not marijuana and therefore a legal product. It is important to note, though, that there are other regulations on the topic of hemp oil legality based on the geographic source of the hemp. Growing and distributing domestic (US-based) hemp is currently restricted to specific research programs. These restrictions do not apply to internationally grown hemp.

What is the Difference Between Hemp Oil and CBD Oil?

CBD oil is also a product being marketed in many places throughout the United States. Like hemp oil, CBD oil is also derived from the stalk and seeds of the cannabis plant, and it is typically formulated and standardized to deliver a stated amount of the substance Cannabidiol (CBD). There is much interest in CBD oil, and many states have passed laws permitting the sale and use of CBD oil – but only in specific circumstances. In these states, the sale and use of CBD oil is often (1) restricted to certain medical conditions and (2) requires the supervision of specific medical practitioners.

FDA law and regulation describes that CBD oil currently cannot be sold as a dietary supplement. The FDA rationale is based on two facts: (1) the definition of “dietary supplement” specifically excludes a product approved as a new drug or authorized for investigation for which “substantial clinical investigations have been instituted and for which the existence of such investigations has been made public” and (2) the FDA has authorized substantial clinical investigations for GW Pharmaceuticals’ Sativex and Epidiolex drugs, which are CBD oil-based.

The Take-away

Unlike CBD oil, hemp oil is legal to sell as a dietary supplement in the United States as long as the hemp material is purchased outside of the United States. And unlike marijuana, hemp (containing less than 0.3% THC) products are legal to use.

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