With the 2018 Farm Bill Act, the United States legalized the production and sale of hemp and its constituents, including CBD. However, marijuana-derived CBD remains illegal on a federal level, but local laws have allowed some people access to the state's medical-marijuana program or have legalized recreational marijuana altogether.
The age of majority is 18 years old in the United States. This means you must be at least 18 years old to buy CBD products in most US states or 21 years old in others, with few exceptions for minors with parental consent or judicial approval.
Keep reading to learn more about how old you have to be to buy CBD legally in all 50 states.
What Is CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabis compound that doesn't produce the psychoactive effects of THC. Both CBD and THC belong to a class of compounds called cannabinoids that look and behave similarly to neurotransmitters in the body that regulate homeostasis (balance).
CBD is a versatile compound that comes in many different forms.
Hemp flower is the most natural, and it can be smoked or consumed as herbal tea. You can also find CBD extracts, CBD topicals, and infused edibles. Because CBD lacks the intoxicating effects of THC, it's considered a more desirable option for research into its therapeutic use.
Charlotte Figi became the face of the medicinal CBD movement when her parents administered her CBD to support her Dravet syndrome (a rare form of epilepsy) at five years old that started when she was three months old. CBD appeared to ease the symptoms of her epilepsy—she went from having over 300 seizures a week to being seizure-free for seven days after the start of her treatment.
Charlotte's story became viral, and the demand for CBD research and its therapeutic potential soared. The results lead to the first Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved CBD pharmaceutical, Epidiolex—prescribed for treating rare forms of epilepsy.
While the FDA approves only one CBD pharmaceutical, numerous CBD products are available online, in health food stores, and gas stations across America.
Is CBD Legal In The US?
Before you buy CBD, you want to make sure you're not breaking any laws.
CBD's legal status can be a tricky space to navigate because CBD can come from two sources: marijuana and hemp.
Hemp-derived CBD products are federally legal in the United States. The passing of the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the hemp cultivation and sale of industrial hemp and its constituents.
The key distinction in CBD's legal status lies in its sourcing.
Industrial hemp and recreational marijuana are technically the same cannabis plant. The major difference lies in their tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9 THC) content—the main intoxicating cannabinoid.
In the United States, hemp is defined as cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC. Other countries may have different thresholds for THC content. For example, the European Union defines hemp as cannabis plants with less than 0.1% THC.
Marijuana remains a federally illicit substance. It's on the list of Schedule I drugs, along with heroin and cocaine. However, some states recognize the therapeutic potential of marijuana and have developed medical marijuana programs or have legalized recreational marijuana use altogether.
Are There Age Restrictions For Buying Hemp-Derived CBD?
The 2018 Farm Bill does not set any limitations on who can purchase CBD, which means federally, there aren't any age restrictions—However, most states choose to enact laws requiring people to be at least 18 or 21 years old before they're allowed access to purchasing products with cannabinoids in them.
If you think you can get around the age restrictions by purchasing your CBD products online, we'd strongly advise against it. While the Farm Bill has made it legal to ship CBD throughout the United States, it may be illegal to receive the shipment depending on your state.
You may have noticed the age verification systems in place on cannabis websites—they're a pop-up box asking the site visitor to enter their age for access. There aren't any federal laws requiring this, but companies do this voluntarily to have basic measures in place.
Is CBD Safe?
The World Health Organization (WHO) even recognizes hemp-derived CBD as "generally well-tolerated" with a "good safety profile,"—But that doesn't mean it's without its risks.
Most of the risks associated with CBD happen because people take too much or mix the compound with prescribed medication leading to negative drug interactions.
Some of the side effects of taking too much CBD include:
- Dry mouth
- Changes in appetite .
These adverse effects are short-lived for most people, and they can be avoided by taking high-quality CBD products at lower doses.
The good news is that it's virtually impossible to reach a lethal overdose on CBD with most CBD products available.
Reaching toxic levels of CBD would take an extreme amount of money and effort. The LD50 is the standard in the medical community to assess a compound's toxicity. It describes the dose at which half the subjects would be killed from toxicity.
Researchers found the LD50 of CBD in rhesus monkeys to be 212MG/kg administered intravenously .
There aren't any intravenous CBD products available outside of clinical use, nor is this anywhere near the standard doses of CBD oils (25–50MG/day).
Why Does It Matter How Old You Are To Buy CBD?
While some states don't have any age restrictions for purchasing hemp-derived CBD products, the popular opinion is that there should be an age limit for buying CBD for two main reasons.
- To mitigate the risk of substance abuse—even though CBD oil is considered safe, it can pose a health risk for those who don't understand how to use it or may experience negative drug interactions.
- The CBD industry is new, and there are dangerous products on the market and a lack of regulation.
Is It Legal To Give Kids CBD Products?
Outside of state-regulated medical cannabis programs, parents cannot give their children any THC. In the eyes of federal law, you're giving your child an illegal substance (THC), and you could be subject to investigation.
However, full spectrum CBD products derived from hemp plants remain a legal grey area.
Full spectrum CBD extracts contain a diverse range of hemp's naturally occurring cannabinoids, including up to 0.3% THC, for a more well-balanced and potent effect profile. Because of this trace amount of THC content, it could be interpreted as an unlawful action.
Parents have turned to low doses of non-prescription CBD products purchased online or at health stores for their kids' feelings of anxiousness, hyperactivity, restless nights, and discomfort.
Long-term effects of chronic CBD use on children are limited, and CBD hasn't been trialed extensively for its effectiveness and safety for use with children. However, there are promising studies that support CBD's use for seizure control, autism spectrum disorder, and certain anxiety disorders [3, 4, 5]
What Are The Risks of Using CBD Oil for Children?
Because the CBD industry is so new, there aren't very many clinical tests on the safety and efficacy of CBD on children.
While CBD is said to be generally safe, there are some risks involved:
- THC Content: It is illegal to give THC to children, so you may have to shop for CBD isolate or THC-free broad spectrum products.
- Too Much CBD: CBD edibles are dosed based on weight. It can be easy to go overboard on CBD oils and CBD gummies for kids, resulting in a negative experience.
- Poor Quality CBD Products: Not all brands that sell CBD have their customers' best interests at heart. When buying CBD, it's important to shop from reputable sources that can prove that their CBD is legal and comes from contaminant-free industrial hemp.
- Negative Drug Interactions: Before giving children CBD, it's a good idea to speak with your healthcare professional to make sure your child doesn't experience side effects from mixing their prescribed medication with CBD products.
How To Buy High-Quality & Legal CBD Products
CBD products are available in many forms, including CBD flower, oils, tinctures, CBD topicals, and edibles. Aside from the format, there are other important considerations when shopping for CBD products.
1. Cannabis Cultivation: Hemp-Derived CBD
As we've highlighted throughout the article, CBD is legal on a federal level only if it comes from Farm Bill-compliant hemp crops. Both marijuana and hemp are technically cannabis plants and produce CBD—however, marijuana-derived CBD products are only legal in select states.
When buying CBD online or in-store, check to ensure the brand specifies where the CBD extract comes from.
2. Extract Type: Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, Isolate
Full spectrum hemp extract is the least processed. It contains many of the hemp plant's natural phytochemical makeup, including up to 0.3% THC. While this isn't enough to produce intoxicating effects, some states may consider it illegal to distribute to children. CBD users report more potent and balanced results with less likelihood for adverse effects from this type of CBD.
CBD isolate is stripped from all other cannabinoids and terpenes, leaving behind pure CBD. These products tend to be cheaper, but they're not as potent as full spectrum or broad spectrum extracts.
Next, you have broad spectrum hemp extracts. These extracts still contain cannabinoids and terpenes but undergo an extra filtration process to remove any traces of THC. Many CBD users who undergo drug testing for work, sports, or parole go to this CBD option as it still provides well-rounded and potent results.
3. CBD Product Type: Gummies, Oil, Smokables, Topicals
The options available in hemp CBD products are extensive—and CBD companies are always experimenting with different CBD forms to stand out on the market.
The most popular forms of CBD are smokables, edibles, and topicals.
- CBD Smokables: May include CBD flower, concentrates, and vape products. Smoking CBD is not for everyone—especially for those with lung conditions or under the smoking age limit, but it is the fastest and most efficient way to deliver the effects of CBD into your system.
- CBD Edibles: Are the most popular and encompass a wide range of products from gummies, oils, capsules, hemp tea, and baked goods. These are a convenient method of experiencing the benefits of CBD as they don't require any equipment and are easier to dose consistently.
- CBD Topicals: CBD topicals work best when they have a high concentration of CBD, and they're used to provide comfort to tense muscles and joints or provide comfort for mild skin irritation.
4. Lab Testing
Don't buy CBD without first looking at the lab testing, as it's the only way to verify what's in your CBD product. While this isn't a mandatory practice, reputable brands in the CBD space will opt for testing from non-affiliated labs to check for potency and safety of their CBD.
The third-party lab will provide a certificate of analysis that indicates the CBD profile—make it has the legal limit of THC, and that it's free from heavy metals, pesticides, and solvents from processing the industrial hemp.
The Takeaway: Can You Buy CBD Oil If You're Under 18?
CBD is a powerful, non-psychoactive compound that comes from cannabis plants. It's known for its therapeutic benefits and is being used as over-the-counter products to support a wide range of lifestyles and wellness goals to treat drug-resistant epilepsy with one CBD-based pharmaceutical drug, Epidiolex.
Epidiolex does require a prescription, but if you want to buy CBD to support your general well-being, there should be some key pointers to be made aware of.
Because CBD is so closely related to the restricted cannabinoid THC, it's often subject to strict regulations, including age restrictions on CBD in certain states. For most states, you need to be at least the legal age of 18 to buy CBD, and some states require you to be 21.
Giving children CBD products that contain THC, even in small amounts, could be illegal in eye eyes of the federal government, so it's always best to check with your health care practitioners to ensure giving your child under the minimum age CBD is the right choice.
- Iffland, K., & Grotenhermen, F. (2017). An update on safety and side effects of cannabidiol: a review of clinical data and relevant animal studies. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 2(1), 139-154.
- Huestis, M. A., Solimini, R., Pichini, S., Pacifici, R., Carlier, J., & Busardò, F. P. (2019). Cannabidiol adverse effects and toxicity. Current Neuropharmacology, 17(10), 974-989.
- Silvestro, S., Mammana, S., Cavalli, E., Bramanti, P., & Mazzon, E. (2019). Use of cannabidiol in the treatment of epilepsy: efficacy and security in clinical trials. Molecules, 24(8), 1459.
- Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Neurotherapeutics, 12(4), 825-836.
- Fleury-Teixeira, P., Caixeta, F. V., Ramires da Silva, L. C., Brasil-Neto, J. P., & Malcher-Lopes, R. (2019). Effects of CBD-enriched Cannabis sativa extract on autism spectrum disorder symptoms: an observational study of 18 participants undergoing compassionate use. Frontiers in neurology, 10, 1145.