IS CBD Legal in all States? Ask an Expert

IS CBD Legal in all States? Ask an Expert

Is CBD Oil Legal?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the most popular plant extracts in the United States right now. But is the use of cannabis derived CBD still legal in 2021? At Cornbread Hemp, we get these questions a lot: Is it legal to use CBD in your state? Can you get through airport security with CBD?  

The answer is, at least at the federal level, hemp and products containing hemp derived cannabidiol CBD are 100% legal, as long as it has less than 0.3% THC. But state laws vary, rather significantly in some cases.

 This has caused those who use CBD products a good deal of concern. Most states have come into line with new federal laws that legalized CBD products. But it can be tricky out there when you cross state lines with CBD.

Here’s our Cornbread Hemp guide to CBD laws in 2021. We are here to help, but we are a CBD brand, not a law firm. This is not legal advice and is to be used for informational purposes only.

Is CBD Federally Legal?

The best way to understand current hemp and marijuana laws is to start from the beginning. Here's a quick history of the cultivation of cannabis plants in America. Is CBD federally legal today? Keep reading to learn more.

History of Hemp

Hemp, Cannabis sativa, was legal in America from the beginning of the Republic in 1776. When New Orleans opened up to American river traffic in 1788, industrial hemp from Kentucky was one of the first commodities to arrive at the river port on Decatur Street, along with whiskey and tobacco. For as long as there's been Kentucky bourbon on Bourbon Street, there's been Kentucky hemp in New Orleans. 

Through the 19th century, the American industrial hemp industry thrived, as it was grown mostly for rope for the shipping industry and twine for the cotton industry. In the early 20th century, American-grown hemp declined in value due to cheaper overseas competition. Through it all, Kentucky was the center of the American hemp industry.

In 1937, prohibitionists convinced Congress to pass the Marihuana Tax Act. This new law made all forms of cannabis illegal in America, including Kentucky hemp. But four years later in 1941, America entered World War II. That created a new demand for domestically grown hemp. Starting in 1942, the government urged American farmers to grow "hemp for victory," especially in Kentucky. 

When the war ended in 1946, the hemp program ended, too. And hemp returned to its prohibited status. Farmers stopped growing it, but volunteer hemp continued to flourish along the fencerows in the fields where it once grew.

When Did the War on Drugs Start?

In 1970, at the height of the Vietnam War, President Nixon doubled down on the hemp prohibition to pass the Controlled Substances Act and to create the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA. The Controlled Substances Act declared hemp plants to be as dangerous as heroin by making them both Schedule I drugs. Drugs that are put on this list have a high potential for abuse, deadly side effects, and are a threat to public health. Even though hemp shares none of these dangerous characteristics and is regarded as safe, the DEA began cracking down on all forms of cannabis sativa plant, ensuring that hemp would remain illegal for decades to come. 

In the 1980's, President Reagan increased the intensity of the War on Drugs, which was a war on people, particularly Black people and other minority communities. Subsequent administrations failed to address the problems of the Drug War and the Controlled Substances Act. This kept hemp illegal for a few more decades.  

Beginning in the mid-1990's, the concept of legalizing "medical marijuana" took root at the state level, starting in California in 1996. As medical marijuana caught on, the push to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes picked up steam, finally passing in Colorado in 2012. This put pressure on Congress to act.

Is Hemp Legal?

aFinally in the 2010's, Congress did the smallest thing it could to legalize the use of cannabis without actually legalizing cannabis. And that was to legalize hemp plants, as long as the THC level stayed below 0.3% THC. 

The first act by Congress to re-legalize a portion of the cannabis plant was the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2014, commonly referred to as the Farm Bill. A one-page addition to the Senate version of the bill created hemp pilot programs that allowed the hemp industry to begin to regrow after nearly a century of prohibition. It was signed into law by President Barack Obama. 

The Farm Bill gets passed every five years by Congress. The 2014 Farm Bill was supposed to pass in 2013, but was held up by Congressional dysfunction.1 Four years later, the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, also called the 2018 Farm Bill, made those pilot programs permanent. It was signed into law by President Donald Trump. Since then, federal authority over hemp cultivation has been removed from the Department of Justice and placed under the control of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where it belongs.

After the 2020 elections, there are now 35 states with medical marijuana programs. And there are 15 states (plus the District of Columbia) where recreational marijuana is legal. 

When Did CBD Oil Become Legal?

Before the 2014 Farm Bill, the only places you could find CBD was in legal marijuana states. No one thought about CBD becoming legal nationwide. But when Congress made hemp legal under the Farm Bill, it did so in a way that gave an opening to nationwide cannabinoid legalization. Congress made hemp legal by changing its definition to mean any cannabis plant with a THC level below 0.3 percent.2This effectively removed hemp from the list of drugs on the Controlled Substance Act list.   

Before Congress changed its definition, hemp was considered to be a tall, fibrous variety of cannabis that was good for fiber and seeds, but not for cannabinoids. But when Congress defined hemp by its THC content, it opened the door to create varieties of cannabis with a compliant level of THC and a high level of other cannabinoids, like CBD. 

Almost overnight, cannabis breeders perfected strains that complied with federal laws on THC with a high CBD content. This created a marketplace for hemp derived CBD out of thin air. Then, in the 2018 Farm Bill, cannabinoid hemp and CBD oils were explicitly protected. That's how CBD became legal so quickly, allowing hundreds of CBD manufacturers to emerge nearly overnight.

Flying With CBD Products

We know that CBD doesn’t get you high, but what does the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) think about CBD products? Can you take CBD on an airplane? Yes! Thanks to a change in policy from the TSA.3 What are the TSA rules about carrying CBD oil with THC on a flight? It's simple: you can safely carry CBD products in your carry-on luggage as long as it meets TSA regulations for liquids under 3.4 ounces (or 100 ml).

Cornbread Hemp's CBD oils and CBD + THC gummies come in one-ounce bottles (30 ml), so it is officially TSA-compliant. So yes, you can fly with Cornbread in your carry-on luggage. (And it's OK in your checked baggage, too!)

Can You Mail CBD Products?

Yes! The US Postal Service announced its guidelines on shipping CBD and hemp products through the mail. Also, UPS affirmatively stated that shipping CBD products is in line with their policies. Neither the USPS nor UPS have states blacked out in no-go zones, which means we can ship to all 50 states and US territories.4

This has calmed the fears of CBD consumers who receive their CBD by USPS or UPS. It makes a real difference to know that the USPS and UPS are cool with shipping CBD. That's a big step towards integrating cannabis comfort into mainstream American life.

Where to Buy CBD?

There's no need to go anywhere to buy top-quality CBD products. You can literally buy CBD oil right here! Just make sure you always look for the USDA organic seal on hemp derived CBD products. Without the organic seal, there’s just no certainty what’s inside the non-organic, conventional CBD product.

To get the USDA organic seal on CBD products, a company must go through a rigorous set of audits, paperwork, and inspections. It’s not an easy process. Be very wary of products that claim to be "organic" or "organically grown" but lack the USDA organic seal.

With the USDA organic seal, a CBD product can prove it has never been contaminated by pesticides, heavy metals, microbial contaminants, or residual solvents. We also verify our manufacturing process with a third-party lab test.

Is CBD Legal in All States?

Even though the 2018 Farm Bill made hemp-derived CBD federally legal, some state laws are still backwards. That means CBD laws can vary widely depending on where you live. That's why it's important to know federal law and state laws, and any state you plan on visiting or passing through. After all, a grandmother got arrested for CBD possession at Disney World in Florida.

Did that really happen? Yes, it sure did in April 2019.5 Florida lawmakers passed a law so that this doesn’t happen again. But the problem is: this story of the grandmother getting busted at Disney keeps bouncing around the internet. And that causes confusion.

So let’s cross state lines with Cornbread Hemp, and see what happens! Here's a quick breakdown of what is legal where, with four different types of cannabis: CBD oil and CBD pills, hemp flower, medical marijuana, and recreational marijuana. CBD is legal in at least 47 states, but hemp flower is legal in fewer states. Raw hemp flower buds look and smell just like marijuana buds, just without the THC content. Medical marijuana is legal in at least 35 states, and recreational marijuana is legal in at least 15 states, plus the District of Columbia.6 

But just because a state has legal marijuana, does not necessarily mean that state is also cool with CBD in every respect. Actually, some of the quirkiest CBD laws come from states with mature cannabis markets, perhaps because marijuana businesses feel threatened by legal hemp-derived CBD oils.

Here are some states you may be wondering about:

Is CBD Legal in the Midwest?

CBD laws in the Midwest are a bit of a mixed bag (as is the definition of what constitutes "the Midwest," so bare with us).

Is CBD legal in Kentucky, our home state? Yes, CBD oil is legal in Kentucky, and that's a good thing. But Kentucky farmers are not yet allowed to sell hemp flower to the public. That's a problem we need to solve.

Is CBD legal in Ohio? Yes, it's finally legal. Read our blog post about CBD being legal in Ohio.

Is CBD legal in South Dakota? Finally, yes. South Dakota was the 47th state to legalize CBD, in 2020.

Is CBD legal in Illinois? Illinois has taken a leadership role among Midwestern states by how they have changed Illinois cannabis laws in Springfield. In short, CBD oil is legal in Illinois.

Is CBD legal in Nebraska? Now that South Dakota to its north has fully legalized cannabis, it's going to make it much tougher for conservative Cornhuskers to continue to deny that times have changed. Yes, CBD oil is legal in Nebraska, if only just barely.

Is CBD Legal in the South?

The South may be late to the game, but most states have made CBD legal to sell, buy, and possess.

Is CBD legal in North Carolina? North Carolina is one of those places that is still against legal marijuana, but where CBD and even hemp flower are legal.

Is CBD legal in Texas? In June 2019, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a new law that legalized CBD products in Texas.8 That means: CBD oil is legal in Texas

Is CBD legal in Florida? After the police at Disney World arrested that great-grandmother for possessing CBD, things have gotten better for CBD in the Sunshine State. In short, CBD oil is legal in Florida.

Is CBD legal in Virginia? Virginia was once a slave-owning Southern state, but now it's trending towards a Blue State with the help of the DC suburbs in Northern Virginia. In short, yes: CBD oil is legal in Virginia.

Is CBD Legal in the Northeast?

The stereotypically liberal Northeastern states have a liberal leaning when it comes to pot and CBD.

Is CBD legal in New Jersey? In November 2020, New Jersey citizens voted to legalize recreational marijuana, giving fresh meaning to "the Garden State." Also, CBD is legal in New Jersey.

Is CBD legal in Connecticut? Yes it is, and so is weed. Possession: Possession of cannabis among adults age 21 and over is legal in Connecticut beginning July 1, 2021.

Is CBD legal in New York? Yes, CBD is legal in New York. On March 31st, 2021, New York became the 16th state to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Is CBD Legal on the West Coast?

If the Northeast is stereotypically liberal (and it's not-- there are plenty of conservatives in New Hampshire and Massachusetts), the West Coast has been walking the walk for years.

Is CBD legal in California? You might not believe this but California, the home of the hippy, was late to the draw when it comes to being able to sell CBD. But now they can.

Is CBD legal in Oregon? Yes, CBD is legal in Oregon, a pioneer when it comes to cannabis legalization. Oregonians legalized medical cannabis in 1998.

Conclusion: CBD Laws Can Be Confusing

As this post indicates, the laws surrounding CBD derived from hemp, the possession of hemp flower, and the varying degrees of marijuana legalization state-by-state is quite confusing. Until Congress makes all cannabis, both hemp and marijuana plant, federally legal, this legal patchwork will continue to fluctuate.

About the Author
Jim Higdon, Co-Founder

Jim is a native of Lebanon, Kentucky. He holds degrees from Centre College, Brown University, and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Jim published Cornbread Mafia in 2012 before co-founding Cornbread Hemp. Full author bio here.


Yes, CBD is legal in New York. Not only that, but on March 31, 2021, New York became the 16th state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. So now you can smoke up in Central Park.

In June 2019, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a new law that legalized CBD products in Texas. That means CBD oil is legal in Texas although the state has recently engaged in a fight over hemp flower.

After the police at Disney World arrested that great-grandmother for possessing CBD, things have gotten better for CBD in the Sunshine State. In short, CBD oil is legal in Florida.


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