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CBD Facts: Is CBD a Drug?

CBD Facts: Is CBD a Drug?

CBD sales in the US have skyrocketed and are predicted to increase on average by a growth rate of 107 percent annually

While the market surges and consumers demonstrate an ever-increasing demand for CBD products, there still exist some gray areas. Such as whether or not CBD is classified as a drug. 

If you are unsure about the legislation around CBD and its official categorization—read on. We are about to dive into the CBD facts, and clarify whether or not CBD is classified as a drug. 

Is CBD a Drug? Yes and No

Depending on the definition of the term drug, the origin, and the method of manufacture, CBD is both a drug in certain instances and not a drug in others.

Why is this? Well, to put it simply, CBD that is produced from hemp plants is defined as a legal substance, as explained by this publication from The Brookings Institution.

Previously, all hemp and cannabis plants (and their compounds) were illegal on a federal level. However, in 2018 hemp was legalized with the finalization of the Agricultural Improvement Act, also known as the farm bill. 

This bill opened the way for legal CBD production.

Some CBD Is Still Technically Classified as a Recreational Drug

While some CBD produced is 100% legal, other CBD isolates could still be classified as a recreational drug, even though CBD does not produce psychoactive effects.

To qualify as legal, CBD products have to be produced with CBD that is derived from hemp, and only from hemp that has 0.3 percent THC, and has been produced in accordance with the Agricultural Improvement Act, and any other applicable federal regulations and state regulations. To gain non-drug status, CBD also has to be derived from plants that are cultivated by a licensed grower. 

All CBD that is produced and is not in accordance with these stipulations is not legal on a federal level—and is classified as a Schedule 1 substance. 

Take note however that this classification changes further when you consider the state regulations. Many states have legalized cannabis fully or for medical uses. States which have done this by association have legalized all forms of CBD within their jurisdiction as well. 

CBD Is Also Part of a Pharmaceutical Drug for Seizures

While some CBD is still categorized as a Schedule 1 substance, simultaneously CBD is also edging its way into the territory of pharmaceutical drugs.  

June of 2018 saw the approval of the drug Epidiolex for the treatment of seizures from two severe and rare types of epilepsy. Epidiolex contains cannabis-derived CBD. 

CBD and the FDA

Thanks to CBD's inclusion in FDA approved Epidiolex, there are now some complications around the inclusion of CBD into health supplements. 

The Food and Drug Administration by law cannot approve a supplement that contains any substance which has been included in an approved drug, such as Epidiolex.

Additionally, on a federal level, the FDA also can not approve the use of CBD in edibles, even though CBD produced from hemp is not illegal. 

However, it is expected that the FDA will overcome these legal complications in the future, as more and more people wish to sell and purchase CBD supplements. 

Currently, most people view CBD as a therapeutic compound and many wish to take advantage of CBD's various uses such as the management of anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, etc. The fact that it can be used in pharmaceutical applications as well has complicated the classification process, but it is expected that the FDA will issue clarifying guidelines in the future. 

Federal vs State Laws

When looking at the CBD facts and whether or not CBD is a drug, it is best to take into account both federal and state laws. 

By federal law few CBD products can be approved, thanks to legislative constriction. What is more, any CBD derived from cannabis as opposed to hemp is an illegal substance. 

On a state level, however, things are very different. At present cannabis and all of its compounds is fully legal for all use in 11 states. These are:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Vermont 
  • Washington

In these states, all CBD is legal on a state level, including CBD made from cannabis plants, and CBD products that might contain more than the stipulated 0.03 percent THC amount. 

In addition to these states, there are also 33 states where medical cannabis is legal. In these states, to legally use and obtain CBD, you can obtain a medical cannabis recommendation from your doctor. This is similar in some ways to a prescription.

The reason doctors in these states give recommendations rather than prescriptions is that cannabis and its compounds are not overseen by the FDA like prescription drugs are. There is as yet no framework for things like CBD dosages, and medical practitioners are not trained in prescribing CBD. 

The states where CBD and cannabis are legal for medical use are at present:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • West Virginia

In the remaining states where both recreational and medical cannabis has not been legalized, you can still buy and use legal CBD. However, in these states it needs to be derived from hemp plants in order to be legal. Besides this, the CBD will also have to have been produced in accordance with the Agricultural Improvement Act, and any other applicable federal regulations and state regulations.

Lastly, besides the states where cannabis is either fully legal or fully illegal, there are many states which have much more complicated laws around CBD and the cannabis plant as a whole. 

In the other states, you will need to check exactly what the local laws are. They include:

  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

It is very important that you verify the legislation around CBD if you live in or are traveling to one of these states. For example, what constitutes CBD is not defined in Georgia law, leaving a huge gray area for consumers and officials alike. 

Is CBD Addictive if It Is a Drug?

Because the legal framework around CBD is still being clarified, and certain CBD is still technically a Schedule 1 drug—some consumers wonder if CBD is addictive. 

Although the FDA views cannabis and THC as addictive, pure CBD is not categorized as addictive.

According to the World Health Organization, CBD exhibits no indicative effects of dependence or abuse potential. The report also states that to date there has been no evidence of public health-related problems from the use of CBD.

What is more, although the FDA ranks CBD from cannabis plants as a Schedule 1 drug, this is simply by default, thanks to the fact that the cannabis as a whole is classified in this way. 

When CBD containing Epidiolex was approved, the FDA classified it as a schedule 5 drug, the schedule with the lowest potential for addiction and abuse. This indicates that in the eyes of the FDA, CDB itself is not deemed addictive. 

In short, as it stands, those taking or wishing to take CBD do not need to worry about potential dependancy or CBD addiction. 

What Does This All Mean for Consumers?

The fact that some CBD could still be classified as an illegal substance, and that supplements and food products containing CBD can not currently be FDA approved, can sound alarming.

Does all this mean that you shouldn't purchase or take CBD? No, fortunately, most of the legal complications around CBD are legislative and do not stem from any drug-like properties of the compound itself. 

If you are looking to purchase CBD products, you do not need to worry that you will be taking a "drug". 

However, what you will need to be careful about is that you are buying CBD products that contain legal CBD derived from hemp. 

Now You Know the CBD Facts!

As the state and federal laws shift to cater to the exploding CBD market, things can get a little confusing. 

For many people, the fact that some CBD is still a Schedule 1 drug, and therefore illegal to buy or possess, can be incredibly alarming. Not only does it make one question whether it is safe to buy CBD, but also whether it is safe to take it. 

Fortunately, the data shows that pure CBD is non-addictive and consumers can take it without any risk of dependency or abuse. 

Now that you know the CBD facts you will be able to make informed choices around CBD and what CBD products you buy. To avoid accidentally purchasing illegally produced CBD, always ensure that you are buying CBD products from a trustworthy source and that they are made from hemp-derived CBD that contains less than 0.03 percent THC. 

Are you in need of top quality—and legal!—CBD? If so, be sure to browse our extensive list of products, which range from vape juice to CBD tinctures and more. 

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