The Legality behind CBD (Fact v Fiction)

The phrase “it’s no secret” seems to insinuate some common form of knowledge between people that are “in the know” when it comes to information; often, this is meant to be taken as a “truth”, so to speak, and does not need much in the way of investigation. After all, everyone knows so it must be true. This has a tendency to lead into rumor, sometimes being culpable as the one spreading it, sometimes being the one that is complicit, but either way it is spun, the phrase actually suggests that there is, indeed, a truth out there — whether it is known is another story.

Such is the feeling behind the current state of affairs in regards to people’s knowledge surrounding marijuana and, in particular, hemp-derived CBD. This is not quite their fault though; when items tend to be prohibited and marked as “taboo” for long periods of time they begin to develop numerous kinds of inaccuracies and rumors; just like playing “telephone” and passing information around that warps from its origin to something completely different at the end (or, in this case for some of this newer generation going forward, it’s like getting a text and having to decipher the entire meaning from one emoji).

This has landed people in trouble even though their intent was not to break the law (to be explored later). In the 1990’s, five states and D.C. passed various laws permitting the uses of marijuana under various conditions and for various purposes. Even though the states themselves had passed these laws, marijuana was still classified as a Schedule I drug at the federal level. In some states it was permitting to be able to use medicinal marijuana, but have to be determined not as for recreational use. Some laws allowed the use of medicinal marijuana, but not to be able to transport it over state lines (and though you may have bought it yourself, the sharing of it to a “non-licensed” individual could make you be a “distributor” of drugs). Some even allowed for the use, but not for the holding of, marijuana (what you do in the privacy of your home is allowed, but the enjoyment anywhere else is a no go). This also does not even take into consideration the back and forth history on the anti-addiction crusade, the implicit biases, and counter culture movement all challenging social and cultural normalization surrounding marijuana that began to become ingrained in people’s minds over time (which you can read up more on here:


An image of a person’s hands clutching prison bars with the marijuana leaf at the forefront

This is where the problem ultimately lies and also helps to explain why we are in first place for incarcerated citizens per capita; if you examine the incarceration increase from the earliest stages in the beginning of the War on Drugs crusade from the 1970’s, you’ll see an explosion of our prison population. According to the Prison Policy Organization’s article in 2020, there are approximately 2.3 million people incarcerated with 1 in 5 being locked up due to drug offenses; 20% of our total prison population (Sawyer and Wagner). Of that 20%, approximately 10% are incarcerated due to marijuana offenses (Oleck). Now, at first glance, that doesn’t seem too bad, that is only 40,000 or so; however, there are some additional caveats. First, these numbers reflect a far more recent figure — meaning that the number was far higher during the last few decades than in more recent memory. Secondly, we have gone through a period of releasing prisoners due to their status and the non-violent crimes committed (which includes some marijuana offenses). Third, and probably more importantly, this doesn’t account for the approximately 800,000 Americans that are “arrested annually for marijuana offenses” and are “mostly [due to] simple possession” (Siff) — meaning that even though the offenses do not always lead to incarcerations, the arrests themselves can prove highly problematic to the populace.

Well, what can be done about this? Joan Oleck, a contributor at Forbes magazine, writes that the Cannabis Industry, while booming, claims in her title that it “needs to step up”; many former and currently incarcerated people have little understanding on the changes that have taken place in the world. Some, as Humiston explains, have “’no clue how to use an iPhone’” (qtd in Oleck). The unfortunate irony is that as the industry moves forward with legalization and applications, many that have suffered, whether it was from being intentionally or accidentally unaware, have had to pay the price — and the truth is that no matter what, the past’s damage on people that have been involved, somehow, in the industry earlier than today can never be erased. That’s fact.

Yet, this also allows us an important lesson — we cannot rely on ignorance to safeguard us. The law will not care. That’s fact.

An image of a marijuana plant and a researcher’s gloves handling it.

But there is a solution. Applied education, like in many other instances, can help to stave off some of the confusions that surround the fictions of the CBD industry. This is important to know because assumptions made, as explained above, can have a long-lasting and permanent impact on your life. Knowing more about CBD allows you to make a more informed and understanding claim not only about how CBD is applicable to you, but also, in some cases, whether there are some gray areas you may or may not know of. Below is just a sample of various fictions, but these are the fictions that seem to sway most people into gray areas:

Fiction 1: CBD is addictive.

Nope, it isn’t. This is a mistaken perception perpetuated as an offshoot from the varied educational programs that came about due to the War on Drugs. According to the World Health Organization, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential”

Fiction 2: CBD isn’t safe.

Nope, it is (but, as is always the case, moderation is always key). CBD is a naturally occurring process deriving from the extraction of non-psychoactive properties from hemp and is often used in various products that you may already use (lotions, shampoos, conditioners, beverages, massage oils, hand creams, lip balms, and many more)

Fiction 3: If CBD is legal, marijuana is

NOPE! CBD is an extraction process (predominantly hemp-driven) that can be drawn from marijuana plants and the like, but it is not to be confused with marijuana proper. CBD is permissible due to the THC levels being below 0.3% while marijuana does not have this extraction occur.

Fiction 4: CBD is all the same

No, it isn’t. CBD is not a singular entity and can be found within plants and other cannabinoids (meaning that CBD isn’t the only cannabinoid “type” extracted). In the extraction process, you can get a mixture of all cannabinoids together (called full spectrum extracts) and, from this spectrum, CBD can be isolated from the other cannabinoids (called CBD isolate). The other matter that is associated within the full spectrum, however, are also beneficial and can serve various health needs as well, but CBD in and of itself is its own cannabinoid.

Fiction 5: CBD does not impair you

Wrong, and this is where knowledge can really keep you. Though the usage of hemp-derived CBD is federally legal for use, how and when you use it is equally important to keep in mind. Remember, everyone’s bodies react how they will and, sometimes, taking various medications can interact with CBD related products. The possibility can exist of impairment with these considerations and, as you may have guessed, can result in being arrested under influence or worse. Key in mind: be safe, be smart, be healthy; you can always talk with your doctor to confirm as well

Fiction 6: Hemp seed oil and CBD are the same

A picture of a marijuana plant and a jar of seemingly CBD oil

Wrong. While both of these oils comes from the same source (hemp), they differ drastically in what they provide to the consumer. Hemp seed oil is only extracted from hemp seeds and contain almost no CBD (though they do contain some health benefits themselves). If you are seeking CBD oils, then stick to CBD oils.

Fiction 7: I can have CBD anywhere at any time

This is tricky; while the 2018 Farm Bill did federally legalize hemp-sourced CBD and though CBD was removed from being a Schedule 1 drug, the recognition of CBD as being permissible for various use was done so federally. Just because the federal government may have recognized CBD in a different way does not mean that individual states and, further still, individual local municipalities do (which is also where a lot of confusion rests). Laws of transportation, imbibing, using, growing, etc can all differ dependent on the local laws applicable to you (and more on this will come soon). Imagine being in a state that says it is completely okay to use CBD so you order CBD drinks online and have them shipped to you (or you just hop over into another state to pick some up) only to find out that it is illegal to consume CBD beverages. Woops!

While it is not upon the CBD Industry in particular to ensure this education, it is definitely something that should be considered when you are wanting to find a source for your own selection in CBD products and goods. Anyone can offer you what you would like to buy, but not everyone cares enough to inform you and be transparent before you buy. Anyone can offer you what you would like to buy, but not everyone provides you with the knowledge and security before you do. Anyone can offer you what you would like to buy, but not everyone is invested in your own true well-being and, for me, since it is my life and my choices, I will always choose knowledge over all; not just because knowledge is power to me, but because at the end of the day, the CBD industry is not what I am buying — it is the people, the face of the company, the brand and I would only associate with those that fall in line with these ideals.

That’s a fact.

  • *Be on the lookout for the next upcoming article, “Farm Bill 2018: The Breakdown, Analysis, and What it Means to Me”**
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