CBD can be derived from hemp or from non-hemp plants. Hemp is defined as any part of the cannabis sativa plant with no more than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the mind-altering substance in marijuana.
In 2018, the U.S. Congress passed and signed into law the Agriculture Improvement Act. This law removed hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act, effectively legalizing CBD if it comes from hemp.2 However, a few states have not removed hemp from their state’s controlled substances acts, so legality of CBD products differs across states.
Many businesses that sell hemp and CBD products also sell products that contain THC. Individuals should be careful to not mistake THC products for hemp or CBD products. Products containing THC can result in psychoactive effects and adverse events. Additionally, most CBD products are not regulated by the FDA. As such, consumers should be aware that products labeled as hemp or CBD may contain other ingredients, such as THC, pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, or fungi.5
CDC released a Health Alert Network (HAN) Health Advisory in 2021 to inform consumers that CBD can be synthetically converted into Delta-8 THC, which is psychoactive and not well understood. This alert warns consumers about the potential for adverse events due to insufficient labeling of products containing THC and CBD.