Is CBD Legal in California? 

Yes, CBD is legal in California- but not without restrictions. 

The cannabis industry has quickly become a staple part of coastal culture, and today CBD use is common in California.

Known for keeping up with the times and setting trends for the rest of the country, California cannabis law is constantly evolving and advancing. 

For those wanting to be up to date, here’s what you need to know about CBD laws in the golden state.

What is CBD? 

CBD is a plant-derived medicinal that is often favored for its natural and therapeutic abilities.  

CBD offers an array of potential benefits for a variety of ailments and is a popular choice for pain relief, anti-inflammation, and sleeplessness. 

Currently, studies are evaluating CBD’s effect on cancer and epilepsy.   

CBD is found in hemp, a relative of the marijuana plant. 

Both are subspecies of the cannabis Sativa plant and share a basic anatomical structure, but the compounds and materials they produce vary. 

Marijuana contains high concentrations of Tetrahydrocannabinol(THC), the chemical compound that creates a high. 

Hemp, on the other hand, contains only trace amounts, and hemp-derived CBD oil will not elicit psychoactive effects. 

These differences are one cause for consideration in cannabis laws because the difference between the two wasn’t always completely understood.

Before CBD Was Legal in California 

Before the differences between THC and CBD were known and recognized, federal law failed to distinguish between hemp and marijuana and was unable to separate the two. 

Since CBD, THC, hemp, and marijuana were all considered the same and lumped together under cannabis, CBD was made illegal after the passing of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. 

This act proclaimed cannabis and all of its products and derivatives to be illegal on the grounds of potential incitement of abuse and addiction. 

The Controlled Substances Act categorized cannabis as a Schedule One drug, making it one of the most controlled substances at the federal level. 

Consequently, CBD also became one of the most illegal substances. Almost 50 years later, this decision was reversed. 

The passing of The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, more casually known as the 2018 Farm Bill, revised hemp legislation and recognized hemp and CBD as different from marijuana and THC. 

This rebranded hemp legislation and descheduled CBD, deeming hemp products to include extracts and products that contain 0.3 percent THC or less. 

Today, CBD is no longer a Schedule 1 substance

Although CBD is no longer strictly controlled, the disallowance of CBD as a medicine or safe food product is. 

The Farm Bill delegated the responsibility of regulating medicinal and therapeutic claims to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA will not permit any type of CBD to be considered a safe food or beverage additive or dietary supplement at this time. Any marketing or labeling of products that could be construed as medical claims or advice is federally prohibited.

The bill also determined that state licensing regulations need to be met for agricultural hemp production to commence. 

These stipulations set precedence for many of the statutory CBD manufacturing rules and regulations in place today.  

California CBD Laws

California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana use after the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. 

This decision made way for further legislative revision, and today recreational marijuana and CBD are also legal to anyone over the age of 21. 

Like federal law dictates, the state of California only permits CBD products to contain up to 0.3 percent THC concentrations. However, there are no definitive rules on CBD possession limits in California at this time.  

The cannabis industry is overseen by the California government’s Department of Cannabis Control (DCC). 

The DCC upholds and oversees the laws and regulations of the cannabis industry, including business operations, licensing, growing, transportation, and production, packaging, and label requirements.

Prior to the DCC, California’s cannabis industry was regulated by three separate organizations with various cultivation, manufacturing, and licensing regulations. 

Today, all cannabis regulations reside under Title 4, Division 19 in the California Code of Regulations. 

The rules and regulations remain the same but are enforced by the Department of Cannabis Control, which evaluates and develops changes to the California cannabis industry. 

One such rule particular to California is the sale of edible cannabis products. 

While this is legally allowed, California will not approve or market edible CBD products as food safe in accordance with FDA guidelines, and products must be labeled accordingly. 

Another implementation is the adoption of quick response (QR) codes. 

Upon legislative approval, cannabis retailers, distributors, and transporters would be required to label their products with a QR code so that consumers would be able to scan products and see if a business was licensed. 

Not only will this help ensure cannabis regulations are being met, but consumers would be able to know they are receiving legal, quality products, including CBD. 

Marketing and consumer safety measures will continue to be taken as the cannabis industry becomes more lucrative. 

Cannabis Cultivation Laws in California 

California is an agricultural leader in the United States, and industrial hemp farming is no exception. 

California legalized commercial hemp production after the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act was passed and was effective as of 2017. It can be found in the Adult Use of Marijuana Act under Proposition 64.

This act establishes the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) as the head of agricultural hemp administration and has tasked the department with putting cannabis farming law into motion. 

The CDFA’s Industrial Hemp Advisory Board, in partnership with the Department of Cannabis Control, works to enact commercial hemp production. 

Specifically, the CDFA oversees the registration, regulations, and fees required to grow agricultural hemp and can be contacted via the California Industrial Hemp Program.

CBD in CA is OK and readily available in dispensaries and stores to those aged 21 and over. What really sets California apart from other states is that there is no possession limit on CBD. 

So the next time you buy online add another product or two just for you, courtesy of the golden coast.   


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Jack Studebaker

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