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The Legalization of CBD

Posted by Dr. Ellana on

An explainer on hemp-derived CBD laws, policies and the future of legalization.


In 2018, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka the “Farm Bill”) was signed into law, removing hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. In other words, CBD with no more than 0.3% THC was federally legalized! Despite this major stride, regulations have been pretty tight and tend to vary by state. 

Today, we’re digging into the current legality of CBD, as well as policies, and where legalization is headed. This guide will give you a general understanding of how the United States treats CBD. As the saying goes: the more you know

What’s the Farm Bill? 

First, let’s take a look at the 2014 Farm Bill. It legalized the sale of “non-viable hemp material” grown in select states that were participating in the Hemp Pilot Program. Fast forward to 2018, the Farm Bill officially made it possible to manufacture and sell hemp goods with no more than 0.3% THC (the intoxicating cannabinoid in the cannabis plant). At this point, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was given the task of regulating hemp-derived CBD.

While it’s legal to sell it for industrial purposes or as an ingredient in skincare and hair care products among other items, CBD businesses can’t advertise any medical claims. Consequences can range from warning letters, or in more severe cases, massive fines and recalls. Yikes! However, there’s some new legislation that may eventually grant brands permission to market CBD as a dietary supplement.

CBD policies to be aware of 

Although the Farm Bill ushered in the legalization of CBD across the US, laws and policies differ by state. This has inevitably caused a lot of confusion! For example, some strictly forbid certain extracts, whereas others are relatively lax in their approach. Here’s an overview of how some states handle the manufacturing and distribution of CBD products: 

  • Massachusetts (our home state!): FDA-approved medical marijuana and CBD products are legal. 
  • Utah: It’s completely legal to use CBD oil with less than 0.3% THC, but the same doesn’t apply to edibles. Strangely enough, there’s one exception to the rule… only gelatin cubes are permitted! 
  • North Carolina: Growing hemp is illegal, but it can be used for medical purposes, so long as it contains less than 0.9% THC.  
  • California: Medical marijuana and CBD products approved by the FDA are legal.
  • Texas: CBD products are legal if below 0.3% THC. CBD for medical use is permitted if below 0.5% THC. 

Where cannabis legalization is headed 

It’s a bit tough to say, since regulations are ever-changing and remain a little hazy; but there’s been some decent progress that may contribute to a greener future that benefits all. 

As outlined in the 2018 Farm Bill, research and development of CBD for therapeutic purposes is required. The FDA has an essential role in supporting scientific studies on the medical uses of cannabis, in order to solidify its review and approval process. If all goes well, we’ll probably see more CBD products emerge in the market! To boot, a US senate committee voted to advance funding legislation encouraging the federal government to reconsider inconsistent THC restrictions on hemp. This too would open up the pathway for additional CBD products. Let’s hope the federal government establishes a stronger, less arbitrary system!  

So what does this all mean?

CBD regulations are still in flux, but things might change for the better as the industry continues to thrive! We’ll be sure to keep you posted. 
Here at Safo, all products – scalp serum, hair moisturizer and forthcoming shampoo – adhere to state and FDA regulations. Our formulas are third-party lab tested, dermatologist-approved, and contain less than 0.3% THC. If you’re new to CBD and want to learn more about product safety, transparency and compliance, check out this enlightening blog post

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