Do I Need A Medical Card To Get CBD Oil


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Do you need a medical marijuana card to buy CBD oil? You're not alone if you've been asking yourself this question! Here, we explain all! How do medical marijuana laws differ from state to state? And what is the federal law regarding medical marijuana? Get help navigating the complex web of laws around medical marijuana use in the U.S. Learn more about medical marijuana, which conditions are approved for it, and how to get a medical marijuana card in your state.

Do I Need a Medical Marijuana Card to Buy CBD Oil?

As the push for the legalization of medical marijuana has intensified into one of the more popular topics of discussion in the United States, advocates have been putting increasing pressure on more states to legalize cannabis entirely. Currently, recreational marijuana is legal in only ten states, but as an industry, cannabis has had an incredible year of growth.

This incredible growth has got a lot to do with the increasing popularity of cannabidiol (CBD). The most popular used form of CBD is CBD oil, but there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding the legality of these products.

Despite the fact that the majority of states have legalized some of, or all forms of cannabis use, on a federal level, the DEA still classifies CBD as a schedule 1 drug. This means that it’s considered to provide no accepted medical use and has a high potential for abuse. According to the law, this is how the cannabis plant as a whole, including CBD, is classified.

However, at the end of last year, the 2018 Farm Bill was passed which has legalized industrial hemp on a federal level. The act states that industrial hemp and its derivatives (including CBD) are now legal on a federal level. This development is a real game-changer for the CBD industry. But it has added a bit more confusion to the issues surrounding the legality of CBD oil. While cannabis-derived CBD oil is still not legal in all states, hemp-derived CBD oil is now fully legalized.

The Difference Between Cannabis-Derived CBD Oil and Hemp-Derived CBD Oil

Broadly speaking, in the botanical world, there are two kinds of cannabis – hemp plants and drug plants. This differentiation is also often referred to as marijuana and hemp. Both are cannabis plants, but they have very different purposes. Hemp plants are typically grown for fiber and seed oil, while drug plants include non-intoxicating CBD-rich plants and intoxicating THC-rich plants.

Hemp is Cannabis sativa, and marijuana is either Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa. Essentially, hemp is the well-known and legal term for cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC, and marijuana is the well-known and legal term used for cannabis that contains more than 0.3% THC.

The main difference between drug plants and hemp plants is the resin content. Industrial hemp plants are low-resin plants, while drug plants are high-resin plants. Initially, the U.S. federal law defined marijuana in terms of its resin content. Here’s the definition of marijuana as encoded in the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (CSA):

“The term marihuana means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L. [sic], 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.”

So what does all this mean? Well, essentially, certain parts of the cannabis part, including “mature stalk” and “sterilized seed” were exempt from the legal definition of marijuana. Hemp seed oil is derived from the seeds of the cannabis plant.

Here’s what you need to understand about the difference between CBD that is hemp derived and CBD that is cannabis/marijuana-derived. Marijuana is harvested for its buds, which include psychoactive properties, like THC, which is known to produce stoned effects. Hemp, on the other hand, is harvested from the stalk and seeds of the crop. These hemp plants don’t contain enough THC to make anyone high. Ultimately, for cannabis to be considered as hemp, it should contain no more than 0.3% THC.

Is Hemp-Derived CBD Oil Legal?

Hemp CBD oil products are legal to purchase without a prescription throughout the U.S and in at least 40 other countries around the world. Essentially, provided that products are made from oil that has been extracted from hemp and not marijuana, you are able to buy it in all 50 states without a doctor’s recommendation or medical marijuana card.

It all boils down to the difference between hemp and marijuana, as explained above. While THC and marijuana are prohibited under federal law, CBD isn’t specifically listed under the Controlled Substances Act. Since the definition of marijuana according to federal law (as stated above), excludes the oil extracted from the seeds, as well as the mature stalks of the plant, hemp CBD is classified as legal. This means that CBD products that are hemp-derived/originate from these parts of the plant aren’t prohibited under federal law.

In 2018, President Trump passed the 2018 Farm Bill, which effectively removed hemp from the list of schedule 1 substances and reclassified it as an “agricultural commodity.” According to the new bill, the law states that if the CBD is derived from hemp and adheres to the below regulations, it’s removed as schedule 1 substance and is considered legal:

  • The hemp has less than 0.3% THC
  • The hemp adheres to the shared state-federal regulations
  • The hemp is grown by a properly licensed grower
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The 2018 Farm Bill also withdrew restrictions on the sale, possession, and transportation of hemp-derived CBD products. This means that hemp-derived CBD products can be transported across state lines as long as it adheres to the regulations above.

Is Marijuana-Derived CBD Oil Legal?

This is where things get complicated again. Since marijuana-derived CBD originates from a plant that is still classified as illegal, things are not that straight-forward.

In states where the use of recreational marijuana is legal, like California and Colorado, marijuana-derived CBD is obviously also legal. However, in some states, marijuana is only legal for medicinal purposes. In these states, you are only allowed to use medical marijuana/marijuana-derived CBD under certain conditions, meaning that you would need a medical marijuana card to purchase CBD oil. In other states, marijuana is strictly prohibited, and thus, so is marijuana-derived CBD oil.

There are currently 15 states where cannabis – including both hemp and marijuana – are completely legal for both medicinal and recreational use. These states are:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Maine
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Nevada
  • Massachusetts
  • Oregon
  • Michigan
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Washington

If you are lucky enough to live in one of these states, you are legally allowed to buy any kind of marijuana and CBD products, regardless of where it is derived from.

There are currently 47 states (including the above 10), where marijuana-derived CBD oil is legal for medical purposes. The specific regulations vary from state to state, but most states allow the use of medical marijuana for a broad range of conditions. However, there are those states that set specific requirements for approved use. For instance, the CBD must contain less than a certain percentage of THC, or the patient must suffer from a specific condition.

The specific requirements for a person to use marijuana-derived CBD vary from state to state. Before purchasing CBD oil in any of these states, you are encouraged to research the regulations. In one state, chronic pain may qualify you to obtain a medical marijuana card, and in another state, it may not. This is why it’s important to look into the specific laws for each state.

Final Thoughts: Do You Need an MMJ Card to Buy CBD?

Ultimately, what you should understand from this article is that the legality of CBD oil and whether you will need a medical marijuana card to purchase these products, all comes down to where the CBD is derived from. If the CBD oil is derived from hemp, you are legally able to buy it throughout the United States without a medical marijuana card.

However, if the CBD oil is marijuana-derived things are a little more complex. Unless you live in one of the states where recreational marijuana is legal, you will need a medical marijuana card to purchase marijuana-derived CBD oil. At the end of the day, it’s all about where the CBD oil originates from.

Medical Marijuana Laws: What You Need to Know

If you have ever thought about trying medical marijuana to treat nagging pain or ease the symptoms of a chronic condition, you may have stopped short due to a few critical questions: Is medical marijuana legal where I live? Can I get in trouble for using it?

If you live in the United States, the answers are: It depends on where you live, and it’s possible, though not very likely.

Making sense of medical marijuana laws can be hard, since many state regulations are in direct conflict with federal laws. What’s more, there has been a sea change in attitudes about marijuana, or cannabis, in this country over the years, which has led an ever-growing number of states to overturn laws banning it. Even legal experts have trouble keeping up with which states now allow the sale and use of medical marijuana.

As a consumer, the first thing to do before considering marijuana as medicine is talk to your doctor about whether it’s safe for you to use and likely to provide any benefit. If you get the go ahead, here’s what you need to know about medical marijuana laws in the United States.

State Laws Prevail

Laws passed in the United States in the 1930s made it illegal to buy, sell, or grow marijuana. The U.S. government’s position on pot has not changed much since then. “It is illegal to purchase, possess, consume, or sell marijuana as far as federal law is concerned,” says Jonathan H. Adler, JD, a professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law and author of Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane, a book about pot laws in the United States.

However, Adler says, the risk of the federal government prosecuting any individual for possessing cannabis is extremely low. Instead, federal agents are more focused on large producers of marijuana who sell it on the black market or anyone who sells pot to kids, he says.

What’s more, states are allowed to establish their own laws regarding the sale and use of cannabis. At this writing, medical marijuana is legal in 36 states, plus the District of Columbia and four U.S. territories (Guam, the Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands). “Congress has repeatedly limited the ability of the federal government to interfere with state medical marijuana programs,” Adler says. “So if you’re acting in compliance with your state law, you are still violating federal law, but you’re not at significant legal risk.”

A Patchwork of Laws

If you are interested in medical marijuana, the first step is to find out whether it’s legal in your state. For residents of two states, Nebraska and Idaho, as well as the territory of American Samoa, the answer is simple: No. The remaining states and jurisdictions have a patchwork of laws that differ dramatically from one to the next. However, states that permit use of cannabis in some form all fall into one of three categories:

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Only products containing CBD are legal. Some states only permit the sale of products containing CBD, or cannabidiol, which is one of two major components of marijuana. The other major component of pot is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, which is what causes you to feel “high.” While CBD extracted from cannabis is used in a prescription medicine to treat epilepsy, less is known about its benefits for other health conditions.

Medical marijuana is legal. More than two-thirds of states have legalized marijuana for use as medicine, due in large part to growing evidence that cannabis provides relief of conditions such as chronic pain and chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. To obtain cannabis in a state that permits only the use of medical marijuana, you must first receive a recommendation from a doctor or other health care professional who is registered to do so in your state. In some states, such as Oklahoma, a doctor can recommend medical marijuana for any condition. Other states, such as Montana, only allow patients with specific medical conditions (such as glaucoma and cancer) to qualify for a recommendation. The next step is to present a doctor’s recommendation to your state’s cannabis commission, which will issue a cannabis card for a fee. A cannabis card allows you to purchase medical marijuana from a retailer, known as a dispensary.

Any adult can purchase cannabis. A growing number of states allow any adult to buy marijuana with no medical cannabis card. However, if your goal is to treat a medical condition, it still makes sense to speak with your doctor before using cannabis and to obtain a medical cannabis card, says Debbie Churgai, executive director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA).

“That’s especially important if you have a chronic condition or you’re taking other medications, since cannabis could interact with other drugs,” Churgai says. What’s more, the ASA is lobbying to provide certain advantages for people who use cannabis for medical purposes, such as tax breaks, priority access to preferred products, and compassionate-use programs for people who can’t afford medical marijuana, Churgai says.

Other State-by-State Differences

State laws regarding cannabis vary in a number of other ways. If you’re considering medical marijuana, be sure you first find out:

  • What form of cannabis is legal. Minnesota allows the use of medical marijuana, but it’s illegal to smoke a joint or take a bong hit; cannabis is only permitted in liquid, pill, or vaporized form.
  • How much cannabis you can possess. In Arizona, a medical cannabis patient can have up to 2.5 ounces at any given time, but in Florida the limit is 4 ounces.
  • Whether you can grow pot at home, and how much. You can’t grow your own in Ohio, for example, but in Maine a household of two adults can cultivate up to a dozen plants.
  • Whether your medical cannabis card is valid in a state you’re visiting. For example, medical cannabis is legal in Missouri, but dispensaries in that state do not recognize out-of-state medical cannabis cards.

Protect Yourself

Following some other rules can keep you out of legal jeopardy if you choose to use medical marijuana.

  • Don’t drive while using medical marijuana. Driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal in every state, regardless of whether you have a medical cannabis card. ASA recommends medicating after you arrive at your destination.
  • Don’t cross state lines with cannabis. That’s illegal, too, which means if you’re flying from one state to another, don’t pack your pot. If the state you’re traveling to recognizes your medical cannabis card, you can purchase medical marijuana while visiting, Churgai says, but buy only what you need, since you can’t bring the leftovers home.
  • Be leery of buying pot on the black market. Let’s say your son’s friend Jason grows and sells pot. If you buy from him, it is an illegal transaction. “Just because marijuana may be legal for medicinal or recreational purposes in a state does not mean anyone can sell marijuana to anybody,” says Adler, who explains that legal sellers must be licensed by the state. What’s more, cannabis sold in dispensaries is tested for quality and purity, capabilities Jason likely lacks.

When Federal Law Matters

Regardless of what state you live in, federal laws against marijuana use can still affect you. For example, if you live in federally subsidized housing, it’s off-limits, Churgai says. If you plan to purchase a gun, prior use of cannabis is a problem: The background check required by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives asks if you have used illegal drugs, stating clearly that the list includes marijuana, Adler says. If your job requires a federal security clearance, you may be turned down if you have a medical cannabis card. Finally, since banks have to follow federal regulations, most won’t process credit card transactions for medical marijuana dispensaries, so if you shop for cannabis, be sure to bring cash.

Show Sources

Jonathan H. Adler, JD, the Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law; director, Coleman P. Burke Center for Environmental Law, Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Debbie Churgai, executive director, Americans for Safe Access.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection: “Did You Know. Marijuana Was Once a Legal Cross-Border Import?”

Americans for Safe Access.

FDA: “What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD.”

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Nature: “The reality behind cannabidiol’s medical hype.”

The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: “The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. Chapter 4: Therapeutic Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids.”

How To Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Your State

Medical marijuana is a common treatment for people with chronic pain or other conditions. While marijuana use remains illegal on the federal level, 29 states and Washington D.C. presently allow the use of medical marijuana by those who have a qualifying condition.

The term “medical cannabis” describes the derivatives of the cannabis sativa plant. Two of its active compounds are cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD has several benefits but does not cause you to feel high. The intoxication, or high, associated with marijuana comes from THC.

If your state allows medical marijuana for certain conditions, here’s what you need to know when it comes to getting a medical marijuana card.

Marijuana as Medicine

Medical marijuana is nothing new, as research has been carried out over decades to see how it can be used to treat various conditions. THC, in particular, has shown to have several benefits when it comes to treating nausea and lack of appetite in cancer patients.

Medicines derived from marijuana have been approved in several places around the world, including the U.S., Europe, and Canada. This includes pills, sprays, and liquids that contain THC. So far, researchers agree that these kinds of medicines are more effective than the whole marijuana plant when it comes to medicinal purposes. This is because the marijuana has to be purified before it can be used to make medication.

The most common use of marijuana as medicine is for pain relief. While medical marijuana isn’t strong enough to replace painkillers prescribed after surgery, it has proven helpful in alleviating chronic aches and pains, especially those related to aging. Medical cannabis isn’t as addictive as opioids and works as an alternative to ibuprofen or paracetamol.

Marijuana is used to help cancer patients cope with nausea and vomiting. It also helps stimulate the appetite of these patients along with those who have conditions like AIDS and anorexia.

Qualifying Conditions

The laws surrounding medical marijuana vary from state to state, including which conditions qualify for its use. In general, states that permit medicinal marijuana allow its use for treating:

  • Cancer
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Glaucoma
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Epilepsy and seizures
  • Chronic pain
  • Severe nausea
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Anorexia
  • Migraines
  • Fibromyalgia

Depending on your state, your primary care physician might recommend trying medical marijuana if you have chronic symptoms that impact your quality of life. This includes symptoms that prevent you from carrying out daily activities or that threaten your safety and mental or physical health.

Getting a Medical Cannabis Card

The first step to getting a medical marijuana card is to talk to your primary care physician. Your doctor will determine if your condition requires the use of medicinal marijuana and will discuss any possible risks or side effects with you. Once you have your doctor’s approval, you will be able to move forward with the process.

While the process varies by state, most will require you to sign up for the state’s medical marijuana registry, which you can likely do online. Part of the registration process will require you to provide proof that your doctor has approved medical cannabis to manage your symptoms.

To complete your registration, your state may ask you to create an online account where you can submit your application and doctor’s approval. Creating an account also saves your information in case you need to renew your medical marijuana card in the future. If you are applying for a card with a caregiver, your caregiver will also need to enter in their credentials.

You’ll likely have to pay the fee for your medical marijuana card. The price varies by state, but you should be able to make your payment online. Once you have your card, you can then buy medical marijuana.

Where To Get Medicinal Marijuana

Having a medical marijuana card allows you to buy marijuana from approved dispensaries in your state. Depending on the state, having a card can allow you to buy products with higher levels of THC or buy larger quantities of cannabis products. Depending on your condition and the state, you may even be permitted to grow marijuana plants in your home for personal use.

Having a card lets you buy medicinal marijuana in the form of:

  • Oral solutions
  • Topical creams or applications
  • Pills
  • Oils for vaporizing
  • Dried out leaves for smoking
  • Sprays

Once you have your medicinal marijuana products, you can either administer them yourself or your caregiver can help you if this individual is listed as your caregiver on your medical marijuana card. How long it takes to feel the effects depends on the form of the marijuana and the severity of your symptoms.

Show Sources

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment: “How to apply for a Colorado medical marijuana card.”

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: “Getting Medical Marijuana.”

Department of Cannabis Control California: “Medicinal cannabis.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Medical Marijuana.”

Mayo Clinic: “Medical marijuana.”

National Institute on Drug Abuse: “Is marijuana safe and effective as medicine?”

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