CBD Oil in California: Current Laws (2020)
Disclaimer: All of the information in this guide is based on our own research into the topic. We have done our best to use accurate and up-to-date information from respected and credible resources. However, we cannot claim to be a legal authority, and none of the following information should be taken as legal advice.
A Guide to CBD in California
- Purchasing and possessing CBD is legal in California.
- Retailers do not need any special licensing to sell CBD products.
- Infusing food and beverages with CBD is illegal in California.
- There are currently few if any regulations for farmers, processors and retailers of CBD.
- Consumer protections are minimal when buying CBD from a brick-and-mortar shop.
Is CBD Oil Legal in California?
People all over the country are interested in trying CBD, for an array of reasons, and you can buy CBD almost anywhere despite CBD’s legal gray area. Most people don’t want to break the law, however, and they may be hesitant to give CBD a try because legislation in their state is confusing.
With its liberal marijuana laws, you would think that California would be one of the few states where people feel comfortable diving right in; however, the state’s focus on the marijuana industry has led to some of the murkiest laws in the country regarding hemp-derived CBD.
In order to understand why, let’s do a quick review of what has been happening in federal legislation over the last few years. The 2018 Farm Bill made the growing and processing of industrial hemp legal, which took CBD off the Drug Enforcement Agency’s controlled-substance list.
This gave states the option to work with the USDA to devise their own hemp-growing programs. Authority over the regulation of processed CBD went to the Food and Drug Administration.
The CBD industry immediately blew up, and consumers started buying products faster than supply could keep pace. New companies cropped up, taking advantage of an unregulated new market.
The FDA, unprepared to adopt clear guidelines, stated that CBD was not approved for use as a supplement, food additive or curative, but the agency has only sporadically enforced these rules. It is essentially up to the states to ensure consumer protections, creating confusion among consumers and law-enforcement personnel alike.
Are There CBD Laws in California?
Though it may seem counterintuitive, the prosperous marijuana industry is causing California legislators to lean on federal guidelines in their regulatory response to an exploding hemp-derived CBD market. One major concern is differentiating which products are marijuana-derived and which are hemp-derived.
Another issue is that those in the marijuana industry are fighting for hemp to be subject to the same stringent safety guidelines as marijuana. This ensures that competition is fair and consumers are protected.
A couple of bills have been introduced that would allow for more leniency when it comes to selling CBD in California, but none have provided satisfactory protections for consumers.
As of right now, retailers selling CBD are completely unregulated, except with regard to adding CBD to food and beverages, which has been outlawed. Adults can legally buy CBD in any form.
CBD in California: Understanding Different Types of CBD Products
If you want your CBD to take effect quickly, CBD oil is the best option. Penguin CBD’s oil is pure CBD suspended in MCT oil for maximum absorption. It comes in multiple flavors, and in three concentrations so you have complete control over just how much you get in each dropperful.
Hold it under your tongue so it takes effect in as little as 20 minutes, or add it to your food or beverages for a boost in your day.
Our CBD oil is made with the best Oregon grown hemp. Comes in mint, citrus, natural, strawberry and cookies & cream flavors.
People love Penguin’s CBD capsules because 10mg is the perfect dose to control exactly how much CBD you get. You can take one capsule at any point in your day, or you can take a few for a little something more.
They are convenient for travel, and you don’t have to worry about messes and spills when you toss a bottle into your bag. Be sure to keep an emergency supply with you wherever you are.
Convenient, discreet and travel-ready, our CBD capsules can be taken anywhere with ease. Each capsule contains 10mg of our broad-spectrum hemp extract suspended in MCT oil.
Want to add some fun to your chill? Try CBD gummies for a treat that will wake up your taste buds. Customers love Penguin CBD’s tart and sweet CBD gummies because they are bright and cheerful and have just the right texture.
Coated in sweet-and-sour sugar, packed with 10mg of CBD each and safe whether you’re eating just one or a handful, these are great for an afternoon or bedtime snack to satisfy your craving.
Made with the purest CBD isolate, our CBD gummy worms are a treat for your taste buds. Every container contains 30 individual worms, with each one packing 10mg of CBD.
Penguin’s CBD cream smooths and softens your skin while delivering a dose of our broad-spectrum CBD. Just apply a dab wherever you need it, and our CBD cream will lock in moisture and help boost your glow from the inside out.
Our CBD cream is a luxurious cream that’s silky smooth and cooling upon contact. Its terpene rich formula is designed to be absorbed quickly.
Industrial Hemp in California
The laws surrounding industrial hemp in California are muddled and perplexing. There are no state regulations regarding commercial hemp farming outside of the general commercial agricultural statutes set forth by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Growers of industrial hemp are required to register with and report to their counties, which set forth growing guidelines and enforcement.
You can probably see where the problems lie. With no centralized regulatory and enforcement body, the confusion is rampant. The state is currently working out a plan with the USDA to run its own Hemp Pilot Program, and therefore the USDA is also uninvolved in any sort of oversight.
The situation leaves the door wide open for CBD companies to disregard safe growing practices. Many are using hemp that has been grown in contaminated soil, irrigated with polluted water and sprayed with toxic chemicals to make their CBD.
There are few safeguards in place to protect consumers or the environment, and enforcing them is up to individual counties that may not have the resources necessary to keep tabs on growers.
Penguin CBD takes great care to ensure that the hemp used to make all of our CBD products is grown organically with our partner farms in Oregon.
The climate there is ideal for producing hemp with all the right terpenes to keep you feeling your best, ready to handle whatever comes your way. The farms where we source our hemp are regularly inspected, and the hemp is constantly tested so we can be confident that every batch meets our high standards.
Can I Purchase CBD Online in California?
Not only can you purchase CBD online in California; you probably should. While there may be reputable companies operating in the state—and even some super-luxury brands—there are currently no protections in place for consumers of CBD in California.
You can buy CBD just about anywhere, and retailers do not need a special license. When you aren’t able to do appropriate research, you should note that packaging may be mislabeled and products could be dangerous.
Shopping online might seem like a scary prospect because you cannot physically see the product you are investing in, but it is actually much safer because of the amount of information you have access to.
Always insist on seeing third-party lab results for your product before making a purchase (Penguin CBD’s lab results accompany each product on our website). When you shop online, you can even take it a step further and research the lab itself.
Furthermore, you can look for customer reviews to see what others are saying about the brand you are considering.
CBD Oil in California
In addition to the problems with hemp farming in California, the total lack of oversight with CBD companies makes it easy to take advantage of consumer enthusiasm about a product meant to help people feel good.
Companies often mislabel products with inaccurate information about CBD or THC concentrations, which can lead to consumers buying an ineffective product or inadvertently failing a drug screening.
Even when companies are not purposefully deceitful in their product advertising, negligence can put consumers at risk. Hemp is a bioaccumulator, which means it absorbs everything in its environment.
Each batch of CBD should be tested by a third-party lab to ensure that it does not have any toxic chemical residue or heavy metals. Your product should have a barcode or a QR box that you can scan for results, or the information should be easy to find on the company’s website.
When determining which companies make the best CBD for your needs, it is imperative to check the third-party lab results for your products.
It also helps to see what others are saying about the company. Penguin CBD’s customers love our products, and we are the top pick for publications like Merry Jane, The Daily Beast, Venture Beat and The Observer. From our CBD oil to our CBD gummies, our products are made with your satisfaction in mind.
We start with organic hemp cultivated right here in the United States. Then we use our state-of-the-art CO2 extraction process, which never requires any additives or solvents and gives us total control over our results every time.
Before our products get shipped to you, we send each batch off to our third-party independent labs to confirm the purity and potency. That way, we know that you are getting the best of the best every single time you order from us.
Final Thoughts About CBD in California
California’s CBD laws are murky and confusing, but one thing is certain: It is perfectly legal to purchase and possess CBD in the state.
The problem is with consumer protections. While Health Department agents are cracking down on retailers and cafés selling food and beverages infused with CBD, there are no licensing or reporting requirements for selling other CBD products.
In addition to the lack of regulation with sales of CBD, there is no centralized effort to oversee or enforce any guidelines regarding the cultivation of hemp in California. This is a complicated issue due to the booming marijuana industry, in addition to the fact that hemp can be grown for purposes outside of CBD. This makes it difficult for the state to pass legislation that protects consumers on any level, from farm to sale.
When you buy products from Penguin CBD, you can be sure that everything we do is transparent and easy to navigate. Customers give us rave reviews because our products are effective and trustworthy every time. Our hemp is organically grown and lab results are easy to find, and we make your happiness with our products our top priority.
Want to buy CBD oil in California? Here are the most up to date guidelines.
Is CBD oil legal in California?
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- What is CBD?
- Why is CBD sometimes illegal?
- California CBD laws
- Where to buy CBD in California
- How to read CBD labels and packaging
California makes cannabis legal to possess and buy for adults 21 and older, and cannabidiol (CBD) oil products are widely available at dispensaries and over-the-counter at other retailers. However, state law prohibits CBD oil derived from hemp from being added to foods and drinks until the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determines it is safe.
California is known as one of the most liberal states in the nation — and so it makes sense that it’s also been one of the strongest supporters of cannabis legalization. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana when it passed the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. And 20 years later, the state passed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which legalized cannabis for recreational purposes.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis. It is the second-most-abundant cannabinoid in the plant after THC. CBD is also purported to showl therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, seizure-suppressing, and anti-anxiety properties.
Why is CBD sometimes illegal?
Hemp strains don’t produce enough of the cannabinoid THC to cause intoxication, but all types of cannabis, including hemp, were considered illegal under the 1970 Federal Controlled Substances Act. The legislation swept all cannabis under the Schedule 1 umbrella, which defined cannabis as a substance with a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use, and a likelihood for addiction.
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp cultivation and created a clear pathway to remove some cannabis from Schedule 1 status by creating a legal distinction between hemp and marijuana. Under the new legislation, hemp is classified as cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC by weight, while marijuana is classified as cannabis that contains more than 0.3% THC. As a result, hemp-derived CBD was descheduled by the bill, but because marijuana is categorized as a Schedule 1 substance, CBD that is derived from the marijuana plant is still considered federally illegal. While hemp is now considered an agricultural commodity under the 2018 Farm Bill, it still must be produced and sold under regulations that implement the bill. The USDA has yet to create these regulations.
New formulations of CBD allow the cannabinoid to be used in a variety of ways. Photo by: (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)
The Farm Bill also endowed the FDA with the ability to regulate CBD’s labeling, therapeutic claims, and presence in foods or drinks. Despite the Farm Bill’s passage, the FDA has issued a directive that no CBD, not even hemp-derived, may be added to food or beverages or marketed as a dietary supplement. As time passes, the FDA has begun re-evaluating that stance on CBD products but has yet to revise rules or specifically regulate CBD products. The FDA’s slow movement has created further confusion on the state level.
The FDA has historically been strict when it comes to health claims or content that could be understood as medical advice — and makes no exception for CBD.
Hemp production and sale, including its cannabinoids and CBD specifically, remain tightly regulated federally. The Farm Bill provides that individual states may also regulate and even prohibit CBD cultivation and commerce. States may attempt to regulate CBD in food, beverage, dietary supplements, and cosmetic products independently of the FDA’s rules.
California CBD laws
Currently, California’s definition of CBD is consistent with the federal definition. According to a letter issued by the Attorney General’s Office, “although California currently allows the manufacturing and sales of cannabis products (including edibles), the use of industrial hemp as the source of CBD to be added to food products is prohibited. Until the FDA rules that industrial hemp-derived CBD oil and CBD products can be used as a food or California makes a determination that they are safe to use for human and animal consumption, CBD products are not an approved food, food ingredient, food additive, or dietary supplement.”
After the 2018 Farm Bill passed, the state introduced AB 228, which would have clarified CBD legality and legalized hemp-derived CBD to be included in food, beverage, and cosmetics products without restrictions, but the bill was held. Until the bill is passed and signed by the governor, California’s laws surrounding hemp-derived CBD and CBD oil remain consistent with the FDA.
Licensing requirements for CBD
The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which authorized the commercial production of industrial hemp, went into effect in early 2017. The act, SB 566, authorizes the commercial production of industrial hemp in California and became effective on Jan. 1, 2017. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is developing a program to administer the new law.
CBD oil usually comes with a dropper to allow consumers and patients to measure out their dose. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
All growers of industrial hemp for commercial purposes must register with a county agricultural commissioner prior to cultivation. Registration applications are available on the CDFA Industrial Hemp Program web page. The annual registration fee is currently $900.
While the hemp program is still being developed by the CFDA, the California Department of Public Health has clear labeling regulations around cannabis products, which includes information regarding the products’ origins, expiration, ingredients and amounts of THC and CBD. Labels also may not contain any misleading information, make unproven health claims, or be designed in a way that is attractive to children.
Hemp growers must also submit samples for THC concentration testing no more than 30 days before harvest. Registrants must submit their registration number, name and contact information, anticipated harvest date, name of the seed cultivar(s), physical address, Global Positioning System coordinates, general description of the location, and acreage of the crop, and the name and contact information of the laboratory to conduct the testing for THC content.
Once that information is received, samples will be collected by the commissioner or an approved third-party for testing. All labs must have an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) / International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 17025 accreditation and use a validated method for total THC analysis. Any industrial hemp crop that doesn’t meet testing requirements will be destroyed.
California CBD possession limits
Currently, there are no clear possession limits on CBD oil in California.
Where to buy CBD in California
While hemp-derived CBD cannot be used in food, beverages, or dietary supplements in California, you can still find a variety of CBD products, including CBD oil, in both retail stores and online.
Because the manufacturing and sale of CBD products is still unregulated, it’s important to do your research and make sure you’re purchasing from a reputable source.
How to read CBD labels and packaging
Though California’s product label guidelines have been delineated, there remain some questions about how they apply to hemp-derived CBD products. It’s important to have the information necessary to make an informed decision about the ingredients, efficacy, and safety of the CBD products you purchase. Most reputable CBD producers will typically include the following information required by the California Department of Public Health on their CBD product labels:
- Amount of CBD and THC per package
- Amount of CBD and THC per serving
- Amount of any cannabinoid that makes up 5% of more of the total cannabinoid content
- Supplement Fact panel, including other ingredients
- Net weight or volume
- Suggested and instructions for use
- Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate
- Batch or date code
- Product identity, including the words “cannabis-infused” for edibles
- Universal symbol that identifies items as containing cannabis
- Manufacturer name and contact information
- Date of manufacture/packaging
- Government warning statement for cannabis products
- Unique Identifier (UID) Number
- List of all ingredients (including any allergens or artificial food coloring)
- Expiration date
- Refrigeration notice on perishable products
Is CBD oil legal in California? Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents What is CBD? Why is CBD sometimes illegal? California CBD laws