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Is CBD still legal in Ohio?

Is CBD still legal in Ohio?

By: Christopher Nani

Since 2014, CBD products were given some form of protection under the 2014 Farm Bill Act. The Act permitted production of CBD products if they were derived solely from hemp, a subspecies of cannabis, along with other stringent requirements such as having a THC content of less than 0.3%. However, in an unprecedented move, Congress did not renew the 2014 Farm Bill in time before it “expired”. The Act expired on September 30, 2018 and removed any  federal legal protections CBD advocates relied on in the past.

But first, what is CBD and what is it used for?

CBD or cannabidiol is a compound found in cannabis which does not have psychotropic effects like THC (the compound responsible for getting consumers “high”). CBD has a plethora of uses such as pain relief, anti-inflammatory, anxiety reducer, and antispasmodic effects. CBD can be consumed in liquid forms, pills, or smoked.

However, even though CBD is federally illegal, the state of Ohio has a limited exception for consumers who need CBD. Ohio’s medical marijuana bill, House Bill 523, creates an exception for lawful use of CBD if it is used “for a medical purpose” under the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program according to the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. House Bill 523 has an expansive definition of marijuana defining it as “all parts of a plant of the genus cannabis…” and because CBD is derived from hemp or marijuana it falls entirely under the definition of cannabis and is regulated by the state.

So can I buy CBD anywhere without worry about criminal charges?

Well, not necessarily. Robert Faulkner was recently arrested in Northern Ohio for buying CBD oil. During a traffic stop, officers found the CBD oil and now Faulkner is facing a potential indictment for two counts of aggravated possession of drugs, which are felony charges. Without federal protection under the 2014 Farm Bill and a lack of state protection under House Bill 523, can someone in Ohio buy CBD products?

The short answer is no.

Only dispensaries licensed by the Medical Marijuana Control Program may legally sell CBD within Ohio. Regardless, it is federally illegal under the Controlled Substances Act and state medical marijuana cardholders could face criminal liability buying CBD from a state-compliant dispensary. 

Because of Ohio’s poor planning, the medical marijuana program that was scheduled to be fully functional by September 8th will not be functional until at least  early next year. Meaning, people like Faulkner who need CBD to treat their anxiety will have no longer have means of legally obtaining CBD. Ohio is working on repairing its failed medical marijuana program and should feel increasing pressure from Michigan if it votes to allow adult use marijuana use following the November 6th elections.

Additionally, Congress may provide a solution to the illegality of CBD by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act in the future. With the recent removal of Epidiolex, a proprietary CBD solution owned by GW Pharmaceuticals, from the Controlled Substances Act this could be the start of federal legalization for CBD specifically. The 2018 Farm Bill Act shows the most promise with the Act already passing both chambers and undergoing final revisions before President Trump receives it. The 2018 Farm Bill Act would completely remove CBD from the Controlled Substances Act and allow states to decide individually how they would handle CBD.

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