Possessing cannabidiol ( CBD) oil in America could still land you in trouble, depending on two things: which cannabis plant it was extracted from and the stipulations of individual state laws. Last year, in a move that could make hemp- CBD oil legal, the USA government introduced the Hemp Act to the Farm Bill of 2014. Even though marijuana is still an illegal Schedule 1 substance, this new Act is busy reshaping the landscape for all things cannabis, including hemp- CBD oil.

First, however, let’s clarify an important fact about USA federal law and state law.

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Federal Law vs. State Law

Looking at these laws, it’s important to remember the following:

  1. The American legal system allows for states to write their own laws and determine their own legal regulations and processes, even if these differ or oppose federal (national) laws and regulations.
  2. However, if you are being prosecuted by a United States federal law enforcement agency, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), national law will always trump state law.

In practical terms, it could mean that if you are in a state with laws that allow recreational marijuana use, you could still be prosecuted by the DEA for marijuana possession. The same goes for state law. For instance, even though federal law has decriminalized industrial hemp-derived CBD products, you could still be prosecuted for possession in a state with prohibitive laws.

Law is often clear as driven slush.

Even though federal law has decriminalized industrial hemp-derived CBD products, you could still be prosecuted for possession in a state with prohibitive laws.

RELATED: States That Have Legalized Weed

What is What Regarding CBD Oil State Legality

So, in this article, we only look at CBD oil law in broad terms and what it says about possession and use. The reader is still advised to research individual state laws personally, as these and state regulations are often complex. They’re also currently in flux, mainly due to the national legal changes. The situation is further confounded by the as-of-yet-unregulated state of the industry, which will take time to remedy.

1. CBD Oil is Fully Legal in These States 

Here, possession of CBD oil is not likely to land you in hot water with law enforcement. This is because the sales and use of recreational marijuana and derived products are completely legal—mostly. Unfortunately, the CBD legality even in some of these states with permissive laws is anything but simple and straightforward.

Again, familiarize yourself with each state’s cannabis laws and regulations for the details.

CBD Oil is Fully Legal in These States

  • Alaska
  • California (A good example of confounding state law! Sales and recreational use of marijuana and cannabis-derived CBD oil are largely permitted, but industrial hemp- CBD oil is not, for now.) [1]
  • Colorado
  • Maine (Recreational marijuana is not for sale here.)
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Vermont (The marijuana law was recently passed and implementation is in its baby shoes. CBD laws are still unclear, but products are nevertheless widely available.) [2]
  • Washington, D.C.

2. Only  CBD Oil is Legal Here 

In these states, recreational marijuana is still illegal, but most of them run medical marijuana programs.

CBD oil possession and use are freely permitted for all, but most state laws stipulate that the oil needs to be industrial hemp-derived and low in THC. In a number of states, sales are state-government regulated or are not sold there at all. In such a case, the oil needs to be bought online or ordered from another state.

RELATED: 4 Unique Facts About Cannabidiol and CBD Oil

  • Alabama
  • Arizona ( CBD extracted from cannabis/ marijuana is also legal here.)
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut (Again, the law splits hairs. Industrial hemp-derived CBD is legal—depending on which part of the plant it was extracted from.)
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho (Hemp- CBD oil derived from specific parts of the plant and without any THC is legal, but this state has yet to enact a medical marijuana program.) [3]
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas (No THC allowed in any hemp-derived CBD product.)
  • Kentucky
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina ( CBD law here is a bit murky, but hemp- CBD products are readily available throughout the state.)
  • North Dakota ( CBD oil extracted from both hemp and marijuana are legal and readily available.)
  • Ohio (All CBD products are legal in this state, but only state-licensed dispensaries are allowed to sell.)
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee (This is another state that has not enacted a medical marijuana program yet, but doctors can prescribe high- CBD cannabis oil to patients with intractable epilepsy. Hemp- CBD is considered legal and is readily available for purchase by anyone.) [4]
  • Utah (The recently passed bill SB0105 stipulates that CBD products are legal to produce, sell, and possess if they are industrial hemp-derived and registered with the state Department of Agriculture and Food.) [5]
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin (Cannabidiol laws in this state are still clear as mud. Yet registered industrial hemp farmers are allowed to extract and sell CBD oil with low to no THC content from their crops.) [6]

RELATED: Is Cannabis Oil Legal?

3. States with Medical Marijuana Programs Where CBD Oil is Not Legal for the Public Yet: 

Most U.S. states run programs via their health departments that allow legal access to medical marijuana.

Patients usually have to qualify for registration based on a medically diagnosed health condition. The list of qualifying conditions differs among the states.

In many listed states, “medical marijuana” basically comprises CBD oil containing between 0.3% and 0.5% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, the hallucinogenic component in cannabis. Also, the oil is usually only issued by approved, state-licensed dispensaries.

RELATED: THC & CBD: The Differences You Need to Know

  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma ( CBD products are legal if medically prescribed, but are not for sale in this state.)
  • Texas

States Where All Cannabis Products Are Still Completely Illegal

4. States Where All Cannabis Products Are Still Completely Illegal 

As the title states, possessing any cannabis or related product in these states will land you in trouble. These states don’t run any medical marijuana programs, and access to medicinal cannabis is restricted. In some, CBD or marijuana possession is not a criminal offense, but possession still amounts to an infraction.

RELATED: Is CBD Oil Legal?

  • Georgia (Even medical marijuana is illegal here, but recent law changes allow for qualifying individuals to possess CBD oil with low THC content. The oil is not sold in this state.) [8]
  • Nebraska (In this state, CBD oil is illegal and can only be legally possessed if the user is part of a university research program. However, the law is confusing, and some stores do stock hemp- CBD products.)
  • South Dakota (Only physician-prescribed CBD for intractable epileptic conditions is allowed by law.) [7]
  • Wyoming (Only patients with intractable epilepsy are allowed to possess CBD oil, derived from any source. Yet state lawmakers are in progress to make allowance for industrial- hemp CBD extraction, production, and sales.) [9]

As mentioned, the recent removal of hemp from the DEA’s list of prohibited substances is expected to change the CBD industry in years to come. For now, though, the law is still weighed down by intricacies and complications, especially on the state level. Also, the industry cries for proper regulation. All in good time, though.


  1. https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CEH/DFDCS/CDPH%20Document%20Library/FDB/FoodSafetyProgram/ HEMP/Web%20template%20for%20FSS%20Rounded%20-%20Final.pdf
  2. https://www.mpp.org/states/vermont/
  3. https://www.idahostatesman.com/news/northwest/idaho/article226865399.html
  4. https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=789baf60-0175-406b-b25b-ee84b5accc7f
  5. http://www.ag.utah.gov/cannabis-information.html
  6. https://datcp.wi.gov/Documents/IHFAQ.pdf
  7. https://www.mpp.org/states/south-dakota/
  8. https://dph.georgia.gov/low-thc-oil-faq-general-public
  9. http://wyagric.state.wy.us/divisions/ts/wyindustrialhemp

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