Regardless of who you are or where you come from, chances are you’ve heard about CBD. Also known as cannabidiol, CBD’s popularity has skyrocketed as a miracle cure for everything from cramps and insomnia to anxiety, pain management, and epilepsy. With the potential to have an impact on so many symptoms, it’s no wonder that CBD has been infused into practically every product imaginable. From dog treats, chocolate, and bath bombs to candy, vape juice, and even beauty products, it’s never been easier to find the perfect CBD product for your needs. But while shoppers have a huge variety to choose from, they’re still lacking clear information about whether or not CBD is legal in their state. Thankfully, we’re here to give CBD New York shoppers a bit of clarity.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, more commonly referred to as CBD, is one of the two major chemicals found in the cannabis plant. The other chemical is tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning that users can reap the symptom-alleviating benefits of the plant without the typical high that people associate with marijuana.
It’s important to note that while CBD is non-psychoactive, there are two possible instances that are exceptions to this. The first is that, for unexplained reasons, some people just have an odd reaction to CBD. According to Dr. Junella Chin, DO, an osteopathic physician and a medical cannabis expert, it’s usually the same people who display side effects to over-the-counter medicines such as Advil or Tylenol. The second and more important exception is that CBD is not FDA regulated, meaning unless you’re careful, you could unintentionally purchase a product that is a different strength than you intended, or that contains THC. That’s why it’s essential to purchase products that have been third-party-tested.
Why the Confusion?
The first level of confusion comes from the name. The terms marijuana, cannabis, and hemp are frequently used interchangeably, but they’re far from being the same. The plant cannabis sativa covers two main species: hemp and marijuana. While both species contain CBD, the hemp plant has a much higher CBD concentration and incredibly low levels, typically less than .3%, of THC.
The other issue that adds to the confusion is the legality of CBD New York. To understand the issues, you need to know a little bit of background. It was legal to grow industrial hemp until 1937, when Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act. The 2014 Farm Bill established the belief that individual states could regulate the production of hemp, and as a result, CBD. In late 2018, President Trump updated the Farm Bill to make growing hemp federally legal. While this means that hemp can now be grown freely, it also means that it is up to individual states to establish their own regulations.
Marijuana and CBD can be used recreationally or medicinally in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and in the District of Columbia. But in 23 states it’s only legal for medicinal purposes. CBD New York is available for medicinal purposes. In another 14 states, only CBD oil can be used, and in Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota, both marijuana and CBD are illegal.
For residents, the issue is a bit more complicated for CBD in New York. Though marijuana is only legal at a medicinal level in New York, the state, along with 12 others, have decriminalized the use of the drug effective August 28, 2019. This means that if you’re found with up to two ounces of marijuana in New York, you won’t be arrested, and the citation won’t appear on your criminal record. You will, however, be subject to a fine, currently listed with a maximum amount of $200, though that is always subject to change. Visit the NORML website to learn more by clicking here.
Here’s where it gets tricky. In June of 2018, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved Epidiolex, an oral solution of cannabidiol, also known as CBD, for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two of the most severe forms of epilepsy. Three months later, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that it would reschedule CBD drugs that have been approved by the FDA, and that contain no more than .1% THC, to the least restrictive level under the Controlled Substances Act.
What does that even mean? According to Special Agent Melvin Patterson, an official spokesperson for the DEA, “CBD is still a schedule 1 substance,” meaning that it’s still banned federally, and listed as a substance “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse." While the DEA still classifies CBD in the same category as marijuana, Special Agent Patterson said the DEA isn’t exactly worried about “end users,” and that their focus remains on major drug traffickers. This means that while CBD in New York isn’t going to be reclassified to recreational use anytime soon, the DEA also isn’t going to be busting down the door of your fifth-floor walk-up in New York City to confiscate your CBD gummies.
Eat (& Drink!) Your Heart Out? Not Anymore!
If you’ve visited New York lately, or any decent-sized city across the country, you’ve probably encountered a bar, café, restaurant, or some other retail establishment that is selling CBD-infused items. Whether it’s chocolate chip cookies, olive oil, coffee, smoothies, or truffles, the Empire State, specifically New York City, had a bit of everything for those looking to indulge in the benefits that CBD has to offer. Had. Past-tense. Much to the dismay of residents and visitors alike, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued a ban earlier this year that prohibits bars and eateries from selling products made with CBD. A statement released by a department spokesperson reasoned that “Restaurants in New York City are not permitted to add anything to food or drink that is not approved as safe to eat. The Health Department takes seriously its responsibility to protect New Yorkers’ health. Until cannabidiol (CBD) is deemed safe as a food additive, the Department is ordering restaurants not to offer products containing CBD.”
When Life Hands You Lemons…
The saying goes that when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. But what saying helps conquer depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and insomnia when you’re suddenly faced with a city-wide CBD shortage? We hope we answered all of your CBD New York questions! Wondering about other states? Check out this blog.