Is CBD Legal in Pennsylvania?

CBD, an extract of the Cannabis plant, has piqued consumers’ interest in Pennsylvania as well as all around the world.  Yet its close relation to the psychedelic drug derived from the same plant has instilled some hesitation and uncertainty in potential users who would rather not wind up in a Pennsylvania penitentiary.  The law, unfortunately, is not straight-forward, particularly pertaining to new supplements on the market. Consumers must be proactive and do research to extract bits of information from many different sources until all the puzzle pieces come together to determine if CBD is legal in their state.

CBD Defined

CBD is a cannabinoid, a type of compound, that occurs within the Cannabis sativa plant.  It is one among numerous cannabinoids which also include THC, the psychotropic compound responsible for marijuana’s popular “high.”  When consumed and absorbed into the bloodstream, cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid receptors of the human body. They modulate the body’s receptors, effecting changes in the nervous and immune systems.


Whereas Cannabis’ THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid that causes alterations in brain function, CBD is non-psychotropic and seems to restore balance and well-being in the body. Although both compounds originate in the same plant, once extracted, CBD is separated from and independent of THC.  

Industrial Hemp

While THC is the primary compound in Cannabis when grown for medicinal purposes, also known as  “marijuana,” CBD is the primary cannabinoid present in the same plant when cultivated for industrial purposes.  This variety of the plant has been coined “industrial hemp” and is defined as containing only traces of THC (at less than or equal to 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis).

Legally Cultivated

In the U.S. and around the world, the cultivation and harvest of industrial hemp has become legal in numerous designated areas.  Laws such as the U.S. Agricultural Act of 2014 are encouraging the study of industrial hemp and its potential benefits to consumers in fields including textile, automobile and health sectors by giving federal permission to states that choose to permit hemp farming in certain areas..

Industrial hemp is useful for not only industrial but also educational purposes; its high CBD content provides convenient opportunities to study the health benefits provided by the compound.  Now that the U.S. permits both the importation from other countries as well as selected areas for farming of industrial hemp, CBD is becoming a big player on the health supplement market and questions regarding its legality are on the rise.

CBD Patent

With CBD supplements popping up all over the shelves, consumers wonder about the legal standing of the cannabinoid, especially considering its close relation to Cannabis.  While marijuana is a Schedule 1 Drug according to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), extracted CBD does not have its own definition and category.

The laws are difficult to decipher.  Even the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seems to be misinterpreting the legal jargon; when the DEA insisted on treating CBD as marijuana (Drug Code 7360), a U.S. federal court permanently banned the administration from regulating CBD derived from any part of the Cannabis plant not included in the legal definition of marijuana, 21 U.S.C. § 802(16):

The term ‘marihuana’ means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not;  the seeds thereof;  the resin extracted from any part of such plant;  and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin.  Such term does not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.

Based on that federal ruling, any CBD sourced from the mature stalks, fiber, oil, or sterilized seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant does not qualify as a Schedule 1 Drug under U.S. law.  Even under the new Drug Code 7350 created specifically for “marijuana extracts,” CBD does not qualify as a Schedule 1 Drug as long as it is extracted from the aforementioned parts of the plant.


Legal CBD Oil in Pennsylvania

Now we have gathered the necessary puzzle pieces composed of pertinent bits of information regarding CBD.

In summary:

  • CBD is a cannabinoid found within the Cannabis plant.
  • It is a non-hallucinogenic compound and independent of THC.
  • It generally is extracted from industrial hemp which, by definition, has only trace amounts of THC.
  • Industrial hemp is legally grown in many parts throughout the world.
  • CBD does not qualify as a Schedule 1 Drug either as “marijuana” or “marijuana extract” as long as it is derived from the mature stalks, infertile seeds, fiber or oil of Cannabis.

Once all these puzzle pieces are placed together, the answer automatically emerges:

CBD is legal in all 50 states, including the Quaker State, as long as it is extracted from the fiber, mature stalks, sterilized seeds and/or oil of legally grown industrial hemp.

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