I work as an associate attorney with a civil litigation firm in Cambridge. My boss is always interested in developing new practice areas, so we attended a Cannabis Law continuing education conference. Naturally, it was filled with Millennials… and my boss, who’s meow meow years old.
Because of his relentless questioning, Dan (my boss) got the presenters to admit that while industrial hemp is now legal per the federal government’s 2018 Farm Bill, hemp-derived CBD products are not. They are under the purview of the Food and Drug Administration because it is a product actually ingested by human beings.
The Brookings Institute explains it best:
CBD generally remains a Schedule I substance under federal law. The Farm Bill—and an unrelated, recent action by the Department of Justice—creates exceptions to this Schedule I status in certain situations. The Farm Bill ensures that any cannabinoid—a set of chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant—that is derived from hemp will be legal, if and only if that hemp is produced in a manner consistent with the Farm Bill, associated federal regulations, association state regulations, and by a licensed grower. All other cannabinoids, produced in any other setting, remain a Schedule I substance under federal law and are thus illegal. (The one exception is pharmaceutical-grade CBD products that have been approved by FDA, which currently includes one drug: GW Pharmaceutical’s Epidiolex.)
So all of those CBD products at your local minimart promising to do everything from relieving headaches to curing your lupus? Technically illegal. However, the federal government doesn’t seem to be doing much enforcement (though New York has started issuing fines up to $650 to restaurants offering CBD-infused products and Ohio banned them outside of registered medical dispensaries).
My point being? This column is not legal advice. This trip happened before the 2018 Farm Bill and also involve foreign countries with nebulous laws surrounding CBD. I got specific permission from authorities in the Dominican Republic and was prepared for my CBD cartridges to be confiscated anyway. Don’t do anything stupid and always ask permission rather than seek forgiveness in these scenarios.