Cannabidiol is not scheduled under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances or any other UN drug treaties. In 2018, the World Health Organization recommended that CBD remain unscheduled.
Prescription medicine (Schedule 4) for therapeutic use containing 2 percent (2.0%) or less of other cannabinoids commonly found in cannabis (such as ∆9-THC). A schedule 4 drug under the SUSMP is a Prescription Only Medicine, or Prescription Animal Remedy – Substances, the use or supply of which should be by or on the order of persons permitted by State or Territory legislation to prescribe and should be available from a pharmacist on prescription.
Following a change in legislation in 2017, CBD was changed from a schedule 9 drug to a schedule 4 drug, meaning that it is legally available in Australia.
In October 2018, cannabidiol became legal for recreational and medical use by the federal Cannabis Act. As of August 2019, CBD products in Canada could only be sold by authorized retailers or federally licensed medical companies, limiting their access to the general public. The Canadian government states that CBD products “are subject to all of the rules and requirements that apply to cannabis under the Cannabis Act and its regulations.” It requires “a processing licence to manufacture products containing CBD for sale, no matter what the source of the CBD is, and that CBD and products containing CBD, such as cannabis oil, may only be sold” by an authorized retailer or licensed seller of medical CBD. Edible CBD products were scheduled to be permitted for sale in Canada on October 17, 2019, and are to be used only for human consumption.
In 2019, the European Commission announced that CBD and other cannabinoids would be classified as “novel foods”, meaning that CBD products would require authorization under the EU Novel Food Regulation stating: because “this product was not used as a food or food ingredient before May 15, 1997, before it may be placed on the market in the EU as a food or food ingredient, a safety assessment under the Novel Food Regulation is required.” The recommendation – applying to CBD extracts, synthesized CBD, and all CBD products, including CBD oil – was scheduled for a final ruling by the European Commission in March 2019. If approved, manufacturers of CBD products would be required to conduct safety tests and prove safe consumption, indicating that CBD products would not be eligible for legal commerce until at least 2021.
Cannabidiol is listed in the EU Cosmetics Ingredient Database (CosIng). However, the listing of an ingredient, assigned with an INCI name, in CosIng does not mean it is to be used in cosmetic products or is approved for such use.
Several industrial hemp varieties can be legally cultivated in Western Europe. A variety such as “Fedora 17” has a cannabinoid profile consistently around 1%, with THC less than 0.3%.
CBD is classified as a medical product in Sweden.
In 2017 the government made changes to the regulations so that restrictions would be removed, which meant a doctor was able to prescribe cannabidiol to patients.
The passing of the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Act in December 2018 means cannabidiol is no longer a controlled drug in New Zealand, but is a prescription medicine under the Medicines Act, with the restriction that “the amount of tetrahydrocannabinols and psychoactive related substances must not exceed 2 percent of the total CBD tetrahydrocannabinol and psychoactive related substances content”.
Cannabidiol, in an oral-mucosal spray formulation combined with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is a product available (by prescription only until 2017) for the relief of severe spasticity due to multiple sclerosis (where other anti-spasmodics have not been effective).
Until 2017, products containing cannabidiol marketed for medical purposes were classed as medicines by the UK regulatory body, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and could not be marketed without regulatory approval for the medical claims. As of 2018, cannabis oil is legal to possess, buy, and sell in the UK, providing the product does not contain more than 0.3% THC and is not advertised as providing a medicinal benefit.
In January 2019, the UK Food Standards Agency indicated it would regard CBD products, including CBD oil, as a novel food in the UK, having no history of use before May 1997, and indicating such products must have authorization and proven safety before being marketed.
As of November 2019, CBD extracted from marijuana remains a Schedule I Controlled Substance, and is not approved as a prescription drug, dietary supplement, or allowed for interstate commerce in the United States. CBD derived from hemp (with 0.3% THC or lower) is legal to sell as a cosmetics ingredient but cannot be sold under federal law as an ingredient in food, dietary supplements, or animal food. It is a common misconception that the legal ability to sell hemp (which may contain CBD) makes CBD legal.
In September 2018, following its approval by the FDA for rare types of childhood epilepsy, Epidiolex was rescheduled (by the Drug Enforcement Administration) as a Schedule V drug to allow for its prescription use. This allows GW Pharmaceuticals to sell Epidiolex, but it does not apply broadly and all other CBD-containing products remain Schedule I drugs. Epidiolex still requires rescheduling in some states before it can be prescribed in those states.
In 2013, a CNN program that featured Charlotte’s Web cannabis brought increased attention to the use of CBD in the treatment of seizure disorders. Since then, 16 states have passed laws to allow the use of CBD products with a physician’s recommendation (instead of a prescription) for treatment of certain medical conditions. This is in addition to the 30 states that have passed comprehensive medical cannabis laws, which allow for the use of cannabis products with no restrictions on THC content. Of these 30 states, eight have legalized the use and sale of cannabis products without requirement for a physician’s recommendation. As of October 2019, CBD was not a FDA-approved drug eligible for interstate commerce.
Some manufacturers ship CBD products nationally, an illegal action which the FDA did not enforce in 2018, with CBD remaining the subject of an FDA investigational new drug evaluation, and is not considered legal as a dietary supplement or food ingredient as of October 2019. Federal illegality has made it difficult historically to conduct research on CBD. CBD is openly sold in head shops and health food stores in some states where such sales have not been explicitly legalized.
State and local governments may also regulate CBD. For example, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources issued a rule in June 2019 aligning state CBD regulations with FDA regulations. This means that although recreational marijuana is legal in the state, CBD cannot legally be sold in food or as a dietary supplement under state law.