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Is CBD a Schedule 1 Substance?

Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, has become a go-to for people who want to experience the potential benefits of cannabis without getting high. CBD shows up as an ingredient in salves, capsules, tinctures and sprays for sale in online boutiques, health food stores, dispensaries, smokes shops and even gas stations across the USA.

People are excited about CBD and its potential to help them feel better physically while also brightening their mood, all without producing the “high” for which cannabis has been historically known. Rather, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, has earned the reputation of being the number one factor in how psychoactive a specific strain of cannabis will be.

Cannabis and Schedule 1

According to, the United States federal government assigns the title Schedule 1 to substances thought to have no medical use and a high potential for abuse. Using, selling or manufacturing Schedule 1 substances is a significant criminal offense.

The source of schedule 1 drug laws

Even though cannabis has been legalized throughout much of the USA at the state level, it remains a Schedule 1 substance at the federal level. Legislation exists to change the scheduling of cannabis. However, for now, law enforcement officials must use their discretion when deciding whether to follow state laws or federal laws.

Is CBD Schedule 1?

Since CBD has recently gained widespread popularity, most people assume that it must not be a Schedule 1 substance.

A collection of schedule 1 substances

A common perception is that it’s the THC in cannabis which has resulted in the substance’s schedule and that isolated aspects of the plant are legal to use. However, the law stipulates a substance’s derivatives, like CBD, hold the same schedule as the original substance. Due to this, all CBD was originally Schedule 1.

Fortunately, the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp, also provided a loophole allowing for more widespread use of CBD.

A Plant by Many Names

Biologically, cannabis, hemp and marijuana are each forms of the same plant. However, legally, cannabis, hemp and marijuana may be treated as though they are different substances. According to, the 2018 Farm Act officially defined industrial hemp as cannabis plants containing less than .3% THC. This act also removed hemp from the list of Schedule 1 substances.

As a result, hemp-derived CBD, from cannabis which contains less than .3% THC, is not Schedule 1. Meanwhile, marijuana-derived CBD, from cannabis which contains more than .3% THC, is Schedule 1.

Confused about the three variations of a single plant? Here is a quick reference guide:

  • Cannabis: A plant which can be classified as either hemp of marijuana.
  • Hemp: Cannabis which contains less than .3% THC.
  • Marijuana: Cannabis which contains more than .3% THC.

How Do I Legally Enjoy CBD?

Hemp-derived CBD is legal at the federal level in all 50 US states. However, some states have rules in place further regulating hemp-derived CBD. Most often these rules do not prevent the use or sale of CBD but rather regulate marketing and sales tactics.

These regulations exist because, even though companies are authorized to sell CBD, the US federal government prevents companies from marketing CBD as a dietary supplement or as a treatment for any specific medical condition.

To be confident that the CBD you’re using isn’t Schedule 1, check the label to be sure it comes from cannabis containing less than .3% THC.

Meanwhile, you can still legally purchase marijuana-derived CBD, which is Schedule 1, from authorized distributors within states where cannabis use has been legalized.

According to, the following states have legalized marijuana for all responsible adult use:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Vermont
  • Washington State
  • Washington D.C.

Is All CBD the Same?


The quality of CBD is determined by several factors:

  • The type of plants which produce it.
  • The health of the plants which produce it.
  • The method of extracting the CBD from the plants.
  • The addition of other substances to the packaged CBD.

Always research the sources of your CBD. Look at labels and lab reports, if available. Your goal should be finding CBD which is mixed with few additives, which comes from healthy plants and which tests well for potency. While additives should be avoided, combining CBD with other cannabinoids, derived directly from cannabis plants, can be positive. These cannabinoids even include the often-stigmatized THC. This is because the presence of multiple cannabinoids has something called an “entourage effect,” through which individual aspects of the plant work better together than apart.

As suggests, some people’s needs are not met by CBD-only laws. Rather, a whole plant approach is the most effective way to meet the diverse needs of adults who rely on cannabis for a better quality of life.

When it comes to CBD itself, there is also room for experimentation and exploration.

On the level of individual use, the amount of CBD consumed can have various effects. For example, a moderate amount of CBD can lead to a feeling of increased focus while a higher amount of CBD can promote a sense of restfulness.

On the level of manufacturing, extracting CBD from the fibers of industrial hemp was once a common method but produces less potent CBD than extracting CBD from the plant’s resinous flowers. Today, new breeding techniques are allowing for the production of additional strains of industrial hemp.

These strains allow for more abundant resin production in plants which still meet the federal government’s requirement of less than .3% THC per plant. These innovations are not only allowing for better quality CBD but are also allowing the CBD to be sourced using more ethical, economical and ecologically sound methods which utilize fewer plants at once.

These breakthroughs with CBD show how regulation can lead to innovation, especially at the forefront of the growing legal cannabis industry.

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