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Over the past several years, cannabidiol, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, has become more and more popular everywhere in the country. Like people in other states, residents of Alabama have explored the potential benefits of CBD for conditions that range from back pain and arthritis to insomnia, depression, anxiety and chronic stress.
Until recently, many laws throughout the country regarding the legality of both hemp-based and marijuana-based CBD could be murky. Because of this, many people want to double check that their CBD is legal before they take the risk of consuming CBD oils, extracts or other preparations. If you are wondering “is CBD legal in Alabama?” You can find a more complete answer to the question below.
Is CBD oil legal in Alabama?
The good news is that, as long as it is hemp-based and has less than .3% THC, CBD is completely legal in Alabama. There is no minimum age to buy CBD in Alabama, nor are you required to acquire medical clearance or purchase CBD at dispensaries. CBD can be openly purchased in a range of venues.
Hemp is an industrial product that is naturally low in THC. While botanically it is extremely close to marijuana, it has almost no intoxicating cannabinoids. By contrast, marijuana can often have as much as 30% THC by weight.
While hemp was outlawed federally at the same time as marijuana, lawmakers have come to understand the difference between the two agricultural products. In addition to cannabinoids like CBD, hemp is grown for its edible seeds and for plant fibers that can be used for applications that range from insulation and flooring to paper and clothing.
In Alabama, the state’s hemp program allows for the sale, manufacture and cultivation of hemp products. While permits are needed for growing or producing hemp products in Alabama, there is no permit needed at this time for CBD product sales or purchases. Anyone, regardless of age, is permitted to buy CBD oil, edibles, extracts and other hemp CBD products.
What are the current CBD laws in Alabama?
Alabama, at one time, had extremely restrictive laws that affected both marijuana and low-THC products like hemp-based CBD. However, with loosening federal law and changes in understanding of CBD’s potential benefits, those restrictions have loosened.
Before 2014, all marijuana and CBD products were illegal in the state. But, with the passage that year of SB 174, which was also known as Carly’s Law, patients in a very narrow set of circumstances were permitted to use CBD therapeutically. Under the law, patients with specific seizure disorders who were participating in clinical research on marijuana-derived CBD were protected from prosecution for possession or use of CBD. The law was named for three-year-old Carly Chandler, who suffered from a severe seizure-causing neurological disorder. The bill allocated $1 million for a study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Because of the narrowness of the law, only about 80 individuals were allowed to legally use CBD.
CBD laws loosened a bit more a couple of years later. In 2016, HB 61, Leni’s Law, allowed a wider variety of patients to use medical CBD. Instead of being restricted to a tight list of maladies, the law merely required that patients be diagnosed with a debilitating condition. The law also removed the requirement that patients be enrolled in a clinical study. However, because of the federal laws regarding marijuana products, doctors were unable to legally write prescriptions for CBD or any other marijuana products for minors.
Alabama’s laws, however, would continue to loosen for both individual buyers who wished to use CBD and for those who wished to grow hemp or produce hemp products. Alabama made the Alabama Industrial Hemp Research Program Act law in 2016. This law set up a pilot program that would allow for growing and producing hemp-based products in Alabama. A limited number of licenses were released to applicants, who were then allowed to begin growing hemp and producing hemp products in the state while the potential benefits and drawbacks were assessed.
While Alabama was already on its way toward more liberal hemp and CBD policy, changes on the national stage moved things along more quickly. The 2018 Farm Bill made hemp-derived CBD legal federally, but left regulation of CBD up to the states. Alabama put its CBD regulations into place with Senate Bill 225, signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey in June 2019. Under this law, individuals could apply for a permit to grow hemp and to produce products made with hemp grown in Alabama or other states.To gain a license to grow or process hemp in Alabama, you must fill out an application, pay a fee ($150 to $200 as of this writing) and pass a criminal background check. As of 2020, there are just over 100 licensed processors and around 400 licensed growers in the state. The program operated under the state’s 2014 farm bill until October 31, 2020, but will operate under the 2018 federal farm bill from then on.
All CBD and other products grown or produced under Alabama’s hemp licensing must legally contain less than .3% THC, in accordance with federal law. While Alabama does not require the testing of all hemp grown or processed in the state, growers are subject to random testing of their products, or to testing for cause at any time. This provision can help people who use CBD but who wish to avoid THC feel more secure that they are using a low THC product. People who use CBD produced in accordance with Alabama’s state law should not be at risk for positive drug tests, as long as those tests are performed in accordance with the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration guidelines.
One of the other provisions of Bill 225, interestingly, allowed pharmacies to sell CBD products. Before the passage of 225, pharmacies in Alabama were forbidden from selling CBD, even though it could be sold in venues that included gas stations and convenience stores. The reason for this strange legal lapse was that, even though the federal government had reclassified hemp, the state of Alabama still considered it a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Alabama pharmacies report to the state’s Board of Pharmacy, which was unable to permit them to sell a Schedule 1 “drug.” It’s worth noting that the FDA still has not approved any CBD-containing products outside of a single prescription drug used to treat rare and severe forms of epilepsy. Because of this, makers of CBD products are not permitted to make any therapeutic claims about their offerings.
Can I purchase CBD oil in Alabama?
Hemp-based CBD products are freely available in the state. Marijuana-based products are still limited to those who have documented debilitating medical conditions.
CBD oil, along with other products that include edibles, capsules, creams and extracts, are available for purchase in Alabama. The range of places that can sell CBD in Alabama now is wide. Products can be purchased in pharmacies, convenience stores, general retail locations and even specialized outlets that are dedicated to the sale of items containing CBD. CBD can also be legally and conveniently purchased online by people in Alabama, allowing individuals to get access to a wider array of products than they might otherwise find locally.