Laws and Regulations

Controversy Over Ohio’s Illegal Stance on CBD

Written by Lisa Rennie

One would assume that since CBD  is not psychoactive in nature that it would be considered a legal substance.

After all, there’s no THC in CBD (or extremely low traces of it), which is what gets users high.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Depending on the state that the CBD is being purchased from, the cannabinoid could be considered illegal.

That’s precisely the case for Ohio.

Many people have been using CBD oil to alleviate a host of ailments and symptoms1. Pain, inflammation, and seizures are only some of the myriad of symptoms that CBD has been shown to alleviate, and many proponents and users of the cannabinoid have been relying on it to provide the relief they need without having to reach for traditional medications.

Recently, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy announced that over-the-counter CBD is illegal in the state, despite the fact that it is still readily accessible in stores and online. Although users can still get their hands on CBD, they may only do so from state-licensed medical cannabis dispensaries in order to comply with Ohio state law.

This poses a big problem, because as of yet, there haven’t been any state medicinal marijuana licenses issued. Even though Ohio approved medical marijuana back in 2016, it could still be months or even years before these licenses are issued in the state as a result of regulatory delays.

The issue of legality of CBD – and any other derivative of the cannabis plant – in the US has long been clouded and confusing. Federal laws prohibit the production, distribution, and use of cannabis products, while a growing number of states have legalized both its medical and recreational use.

Things get even more confusing when news comes to light of cannabis-based drugs getting approved for use all across the US. Namely, a British-based company’s cannabis-based drug Epidiolex (a drug to help minimize the incidence of seizures) has just recently been given the go-ahead to be distributed in pharmacies throughout the US.

This marks the first case in which any compound extracted from the cannabis plant is allowed to be used just like any other pharmaceutical product. That’s huge news for the cannabis industry, especially since CBD is still technically considered federally illegal because of its Schedule I classification according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The fact that Ohio’s stance on CBD refers to the cannabinoid as illegal to produce and distribute may seem unfounded given the fact that CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that does not get users high. To classify it among the ranks of highly-addictive and destructive drugs like heroin seems absurd.

But until dispensaries in the state of Ohio are operational and fully licensed, distributing or using CBD and any other compound that is associated with the cannabis plant is prohibited under state law. That means any CBD product must adhere to specific testing procedures and regulations as any other product that is derived from cannabis. In addition, products that are derived from cannabis must show the exact details of active ingredients.

House Bill 523, which is Ohio’s law on medical marijuana that was passed in 2016, makes no distinction between hemp and marijuana, even though hemp has no THC and is what CBD is extracted from. What’s interesting is the fact that Ohio state law – as well as federal law for that matter – does not have any rules against the resin of the cannabis plant, which is actually what produces both THC and CBD.

It remains to be seen how CBD’s restriction will be enforced by law, as the guidelines for law enforcement in this realm are still in the middle of being written.

1. Kogan, Natalya,. et al, Cannabinoids in health and disease, Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 2007, Volume 9(4), pp. 413–430.

About the author

Lisa Rennie

Lisa Simoneli Rennie has been working as a freelance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content dedicated to informing consumers. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with others, and in her spare time, Lisa enjoys trying funky new recipes, spending time with her dog, and of course, reveling in the joy of family.