Over the years, receiving the blessing of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been a sign that a substance is fit for human consumption. With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, jurisdiction over CBD was passed to the FDA from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), but the FDA has been slow to change CBD’s regulatory status in any way.
Has the FDA approved CBD? Can I buy CBD online anyway? Why does FDA approval even matter to CBD companies? Find the answers to these and more questions in this guide.
What Is CBD?
CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in Cannabis sativa. For regulatory purposes, CBD is considered to be “industrial hemp,” but both CBD and THC come from the same plant.
Lacking psychoactive properties, CBD does not bind to the same sites in the human nervous system as THC. In fact, CBD may even suppress THC’s intoxicating properties. THC, however, remains a Schedule I illicit substance despite being legalized in many states.
Is CBD Marijuana?
According to the federal government, CBD is not the Schedule I illicit substance marijuana. As long as they contain less than 0.3% THC, CBD products are instead considered industrial hemp, a category of consumer items that all roughly have the same regulatory status as a hemp T-shirt.
CBD is not a scheduled substance, meaning it is not on the DEA’s list of illegal substances. Most states around the country have also taken a permissive stance toward CBD. It is widely understood that CBD poses no intoxication or dependence risk and may be useful for a wide variety of different conditions.
Is CBD Federally Legal?
The 2018 Farm Bill did not make CBD strictly legal. It made it impossible to ever confuse CBD with a scheduled drug, but it left regulation of the CBD market to the FDA, which has the power to ban substances it believes pose risks to public health.
The FDA also has the power to approve certain products for specific medical purposes on a prescription basis or allow producers to indicate that over-the-counter products might be useful for certain conditions. So far, though, the FDA has not widely legitimized CBD as either a prescription or over-the-counter substance.
Has the FDA Approved CBD?
No, the FDA has not approved CBD as an overall substance. That’s not even within the FDA’s scope of duties — this agency simply controls the labeling and ingredients of over-the-counter substances while approving prescription drugs for certain narrowly defined purposes.
How CBD Approval Works
If a drug manufacturer wants to get a substance approved by the FDA, they submit samples of the substance along with a great deal of paperwork, often including clinical studies. So far, only one company has gone through this process with a CBD product. The vast majority of CBD producers are waiting for the US federal government to make much wider-sweeping changes to its overall stance on hemp.
What Is Epidiolex?
Epidiolex is the sole CBD product that you could legitimately call “FDA-approved.” The FDA has approved this CBD-based drug made by UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals for certain forms of epilepsy and a handful of other conditions.
Approvals for Epidiolex do not apply to other CBD products, however. Similarly, just because Epidiolex has been approved for epilepsy doesn’t mean CBD has been proven effective for the same epileptic conditions.
Current CBD Approval Status
There continues to be no news regarding CBD’s path to more widespread FDA approval. It has been more than four years since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, and the FDA seems no closer to taking further control over the stabilizing CBD industry than it did at the time of the bill’s passage. It’s possible that the federal government is waiting for a time of less economic and political upheaval to take a look at finer matters like cannabis regulation.
Summary: Why FDA CBD Approval Matters
Even without FDA approval, it’s usually not against the law to buy CBD online and have it shipped to your home or office address. Always consult with local, state, and county CBD regulations to be sure.
At the federal level, however, CBD has essentially been accepted as a permanent phenomenon. The FDA isn’t doing anything to stop you from buying CBD online, and whenever it comes, revision of the federal government’s official stance toward CBD is nearly guaranteed to be favorable.