What is CBD (Cannabidiol) and Why is CBD Legal?

Updated 08/14/2020

With wellness marijuana and CBD (cannabidiol) markets growing, it is crucial to understand both hemp and cannabis laws in your home state to ensure that you remain within your legal rights. Not to be confused with THC, which is known for its “high,” CBD is a non-intoxicating compound primarily derived from the hemp plant. In this article, we discuss CBD and why it is legal.

What is CBD?

CBD (cannabidiol) is a chemical compound naturally produced by both hemp and cannabis plants. Not to be confused with THC, CBD is non-intoxicating and more so accredited for its potential therapeutic application. CBD-infused products allow consumers a way to harness some of the properties scientifically associated with the cannabis plant with no soothing effect.

Differences Between Industrial Hemp and Marijuana

While hemp and cannabis stem from the same plant family, they have a variety of crucial differences. For instance, industrial hemp has low THC levels compared to marijuana. This typically contains between 5-20% THC. Industrial hemp contains about one-tenth of that. To get a psychoactive effect, one would need to smoke ten or twelve hemp cigarettes over a short time.

The reason for the low THC content in hemp is that most THC forms within resin glands on the buds and flowers of the female cannabis plant. Industrial hemp is not cultivated to produce buds and therefore lacks the primary component that forms the marijuana high. Furthermore, industrial hemp has higher concentrations of CBD, which helps negate its intoxicating effects when consumed in conjunction.

Compared to cannabis, hemp produces a much stronger fiber, making it useful in the production of industrial goods such as rope, blankets, building materials, and paper. Alternatively, cannabis fiber has low tensile strength and will break or shred easily, making it a poor fibrous plant when compared to industrial hemp.

Hemp vs. Cannabis: Why is CBD Legal?

An article published by Leaf Science further explains the primary differences between hemp and cannabis. It also discusses the main reason that hemp is legal:

“While marijuana plants contain high levels of THC, hemp contains very little of the psychoactive chemical.” This single difference is what most rely on to distinguish hemp from marijuana. For example, countries like Canada have set the maximum THC content of hemp at 0.3%. Any cannabis with higher THC levels is instead considered marijuana.

In comparison, wellness marijuana produces anywhere between 5-20% THC on average, with prize strains tipping the scale at 25-30% THC.”

The most substantial changes have come in the latest laws which have excluded Industrial Hemp and CBD from the DEA and the controlled substances act.

Hemp Farming Act of 2018 – Amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of “marihuana.” Defines “industrial hemp” to mean the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-nine tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis. Deems Cannabis sativa L. to meet that concentration limit if a person grows or processes it for purposes of making industrial hemp according to state law.

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Author: Joshua Willard (Freelance CBD Content Writer/Editor)

FDA Disclosure Statement: The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these statements. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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