Your Complete Guide to CBD Laws in California

Is CBD legal in California?

CBD is more legal in California than it ever has been before. With that said, it’s still important to be up to date with the Golden State’s CBD laws if you’re a California resident. Use this guide to familiarize yourself with the latest developments in California CBD law and learn why is the best place to get CBD in California.

Is CBD Oil Legal in California?

CBD law in California has recently gone through some significant changes. While California was the first state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, this state long suffered from regrettably backward CBD laws. In addition, federal legislation has recently made major changes to CBD laws across the United States, and these updates to antiquated CBD legislation are also relevant to California residents.

In general, these changes have made it easier for hemp-lovers in California to get the CBD they need. Any change, however, always brings about a degree of chaos, and it’s easy to get confused about the status of CBD in the Golden State given how much the landscape has shifted practically overnight. For your convenience, we’ll unravel all the knots and level with you about everything that’s new in California regarding CBD.

Details on California’s CBD Laws

Until 2018, California’s definition of CBD as a marijuana product made this substance only legally available from state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries. While CBD laws in California weren’t strictly enforced, residents of this state who used cannabidiol had some basis to be concerned about the legality of this hemp-based substance.

On Proposition 64

In November of 2016, however, California voters chose to make recreational marijuana legal statewide with Proposition 64. This law came into effect in January of 2018 as the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA), and CBD products are now legal throughout California for residents or visitors who are 21 or older.

Proposition 64 may seem like great news to California residents, but it’s important to point out that the law in this state still defines CBD as a marijuana product. Since the popular and legal culture surrounding cannabis in California is so lax, this technicality shouldn’t be cause for concern, but it appears that a mere definition may cause problems that are far more than just semantic.

For instance, California legislators and regulatory agencies still haven’t made up their minds whether CBD is legal if it isn’t sold in an in-state recreational or medical marijuana shop. Since you’re good to go with CBD in California as long as you’re at least 21 years old or a medical marijuana patient, this legal confusion should have negligible bearing on consumer use of CBD in this state, but a bureaucratic nightmare is brewing that might take years to properly resolve.

It’s no secret that California is a fan of big-government principles, so it should come as no surprise that no less than three taxpayer-funded state agencies are currently battling it out over who has the final say on how CBD will be regulated in the Golden State.

The Golden State has a convoluted history with the legality of CBD.
The Golden State has a convoluted history with the legality of CBD.

The Battle of Three Agencies

MAUCRSA specifically tapped the newly-created Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) to regulate both the recreational and medical cannabis markets in this state. But of course, whenever there’s a power shift in California, other semi-relevant state agencies feel they have no choice but to step in and try to exert their authority.

It all began when the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) pointed out during MAUCRSA’s comment period that the text of this new law made no mention of industrial hemp. Since most states and the federal government use “industrial hemp” as an umbrella term to denote various types of government-sanctioned hemp agriculture, the CDPH was concerned that MAUCRSA essentially left industrial hemp regulation up to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) whether the CDFA wanted it or not.

The CDPH went on to release its infamousCBD FAQ memo, in which it stated that CBD wouldn’t be allowed in food products in California until this state agency decided how to regulate CBD edibles. While this memo only directly impacts would-be CBD manufacturers in California, the CDPH FAQ is further evidence that it takes more than three agencies to screw in a CBD light bulb in California.

State CBD Laws in California: Summing It Up

CBD users in California have already thumbed their noses at the government for years, so it’s no surprise that these logistical complexities haven’t slowed down the explosive growth of the California CBD market one iota. People who want to make and market CBD in California, however, are getting increasingly fed up with all the nonsense.

At this point, it’s legal for state-sanctioned California companies to grow and produce THC marijuana extracts, but it isn’t legal for these producers to make CBD-rich hemp extracts. If you’re dead set on buying CBD from a California company that’s been approved by the Golden State’s powers that be, you’ll be in for a long wait. Luckily, there are much better ways to get CBD in California than relying on quirky bureaucratic agencies and in-state producers that may never get the green light.

What About Federal CBD Law?

In an ideal world, the monumental recent changes to federal CBD law would have completely cleared the air in California on the subject of cannabidiol, but alas, this is one arena of legislation in which the federal government hasn’t decided to trample on states’ rights. While the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 officially removed CBD from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)’s definition of “cannabis,” it left it up to the states to decide how to legislate the particulars of CBD law in their jurisdictions.

For the first time since the DEA classified marijuana as a Schedule I substance, CBD is no longer treated as an illegal cannabis constituent. This measure essentially indicates the federal government’s surrender in the face of CBD’s seemingly unstoppable meteoric rise in popularity; the DEA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other relevant federal agencies can’t put the cat back in the bag, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy about it.

In a classic “I’ve got my eye on you” moment, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb had this to say regarding the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill:

“We’re aware of the growing public interest in cannabis and cannabis-derived products, including cannabidiol (CBD). This increasing public interest in these products makes it even more important with the passage of this law for the FDA to clarify its regulatory authority over these products. In short, we treat products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds as we do any other FDA-regulated products — meaning they’re subject to the same authorities and requirements as FDA-regulated products containing any other substance.”

It’s clear that the federal government hasn’t given up on sticking its nose in the average person’s CBD business, but there’s no way around the fact that CBD is no longer a Schedule I drug. For California residents and people across the nation, this development provides more of the freedom that the Founding Fathers intended to bestow on all America’s citizens.

A recent bill made CBD no longer a schedule I substance.
A recent bill made CBD no longer a schedule I substance.

What It All Means for California Residents

If you thought that the struggle over CBD between California’s internal state agencies was bad, just wait until you learn how MAUCRSA and other state legislation is playing into recent changes to federal CBD law. The confusion all stems from the fact that, like all other states, the state of California now has the right to determine its own CBD policy.

Many states have used this newfound authority to pass humane and comprehensive CBD laws that provide their citizens with safe access to cannabidiol products. Even Kansas, which isn’t a traditionally progressive state, recently had a Senate vote in which legislators made CBD containing less than 0.3% THC legal for sale and possession statewide.

California is quickly proving, however, that recreational marijuana legalization is only beneficial to state tax collectors and people who love THC. While the Golden State now has the full legislative authority to follow the lead of Kansas, Florida, and Texas by passing reasonable CBD laws, California residents are still forced to needlessly wonder whether CBD is legal in their state.

While it is certainly more legal than ever before for California residents to own and use CBD, the mismatch between federal and state laws in the Golden State is breeding unnecessary confusion for people who just want to experience the profound benefits of ingesting, vaping, or topically applying full-spectrum hemp oil or CBD isolate.

Where Can I Get CBD Oil in California?

There are a few different ways to get your hands on CBD as a California resident. Let’s take a closer look at the options you have at your disposal:

1. Recreational Cannabis Shops

Unfortunately, it’s currently impossible to get CBD-rich hemp oil extracts from California recreational cannabis shops. While the cannabis bureaucracy in California might resolve this unfinished business soon, don’t hold your breath.

2. Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Depending on the dispensary you visit, it may still be possible to get CBD-rich hemp extract products from state-sanctioned medical marijuana shops in California. However, there’s no way to guarantee the quality or the dosage of CBD extracts sold in California medical marijuana shops, so you might get burned or even inadvertently purchase unsafe hemp oil if you take this route.

3. General Market Retailers

It’s better to buy CBD from general market retailers in California than it is to buy this beneficial cannabinoid from any of this state’s sponsored cannabis shops. However, there’s no guarantee that the employees at your local vape shop or natural foods store will have any idea what CBD is, and they might even supply you with misleading information that could get you hurt.

4. Online at

Buying CBD online is the best option for California residents who want to experience the incredible power of this cannabinoid for themselves. The selection of CBD products on the internet is vastly greater than you’ll find in any brick-and-mortar store, and it’s much easier to verify the quality and potency of hemp-rich CBD oil or CBD isolate when you buy your cannabidiol online.

The hot competition within the online CBD industry gave birth to CBGenius, which is the first science-based CBD company on the internet to have the full support of Ph.D. CBD researchers. To give our customers a wealth of options, we supply both isolate CBD and CBD-rich hemp oil tinctures to customers across the country, and we even offer CBD lotion for athletes, CBD bath bombs, CBD vape cartridges, and CBD tinctures for pets to cover all your bases.

Here at CBGenius, we understand that CBD oil is only as good as the science that goes into it, and we’re at the forefront of CBD developments that will alter the trajectory of the industry forever. We proudly ship to California residents, and we’re standing by to answer any questions you may have.

The Evolution of California Industrial Hemp Laws

One aspect of the 2018 Farm Bill’s impact on CBD that’s commonly overlooked is this piece of legislation’s authorization of crop insurance for CBD hemp farmers. Crop insurance covers the value of crops lost in natural disasters or other unforeseen circumstances, and farmers across the country rely on this type of coverage to keep their businesses afloat.

Without crop insurance, California hemp cultivators were forced to operate at immense risk, which artificially suppressed the hemp oil industry in this state. With the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act, however, it’s become possible for hemp growers in California to protect themselves from wildfires, floods, and the other dangers that face farmers in one of America’s most important breadbaskets.

The Word On Hemp Farms

In a rare example of working in unison, both the California state legislature and the federal government recently moved to create hemp cultivation registration programs that will track and regulate the production of this vital crop. The only problem is, however, that these two governmental bodies made separate registration programs at the same time, and battle lines are already being drawn over which agency will ultimately determine the stipulations that California hemp cultivators must comply with to stay in business.

Once the smoke clears, it’s likely that one or more California state agencies will be forced to work together with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to avoid prolonging pointless power struggles. Until then, however, conflicts between California’s SB-1409 and the USDA’s hemp cultivation regulations will continue to define the future of CBD-rich hemp oil production in California.

CBD Laws in California: The Bottom Line

Now is the best time to start using CBD in California, but it’s important to understand that this state’s bureaucratic bickering regarding cannabidiol probably won’t die down for a while. Until it does, California residents can’t safely purchase CBD from any of this state’s agency-sanctioned cannabis shops, and purchasing CBD from general market retailers in California is relatively dodgy as well.

Here at CBGenius, we pride ourselves on offering our California customers the best CBD that science can devise. As unapologetic CBD advocates, we’re always trying to help people around the country and across the world access the CBD they need to live happy, healthy lives.

The recent changes to CBD’s legal status caused by state and federal legislative updates are promising, but the fight to free CBD in California from the shadow cast by unenlightened laws is far from over. We’ll keep track of ongoing developments in the story of CBD in California, and we’ll always be your number one source for CBD isolate and CBD-rich, full-spectrum hemp products both in California and beyond.

CBD in California FAQ

Let’s sum things up with a few answers to your most common questions:

1. Can you buy CBD seeds in California?

CBD is derived from Cannabis sativa plants that yield buds with low concentrations of THC and high concentrations of CBD. Growing CBD hemp plants isn’t all that different from growing marijuana plants, and you can purchase seeds for CBD-rich strains online. However, we don’t advocate this approach since purchasing CBD seeds may or may not be legal in your state.

2. Do you need a CBD prescription in California?

At this point, CBD is only considered to be a prescription drug when it is in the form of Epidiolex, which is a CBD product marketed by the pharma company G.W. pharmaceuticals. Otherwise, CBD is regulated as a “new drug,” which means that it does not require a prescription. At the same time, however, this does not mean that CBD is a supplement or OTC drug. It simply hasn’t been regulated by the FDA yet, which has led to its “new drug” status.

3. Can you buy CBD online in California?

Absolutely. We proudly ship to every address in California, so you can rely on for all your CBD shopping needs as a California resident.

UPDATE: August 2019 CA-AB 228 Developments

It looks like the state of California CBD law is about to change. Just as I detailed above, the cannabis law situation in California remains convoluted and confusing, but California Assembly Bill 228 could make things a lot simpler for hemp farmers and producers in the state.

This bill passed the California Assembly in May, and this legislation will make a big impact on California CBD law in 2019 if it passes this state’s senate. As I mentioned earlier, the main issue facing manufacturers of CBD food products is the precedent that such products are “adulterated.”

While the term “adulterated” sounds somewhat dire, it’s simply the FDA’s way of saying that a food substance has been mixed with a drug. While CBD hasn’t been regulated as a prescription or OTC drug, it’s lack of regulatory status makes it a “new drug,” and the FDA wants to make sure that new drugs don’t get into the good supply.

CA-AB 228, however, would amend California laws to make it so that foods containing CBD wouldn’t be considered adulterated. This step would mark a huge leap forward in California cannabis law, which has separate standards for marijuana and hemp.

Californian CBD users have been seething that they can pick up edibles packed with THC at their local recreational marijuana shops but any food products with CBD might be considered “adulterated.” AB 228 would solve this issue, but this legislation is still stirring up the hornet’s nest that is California CBD politics.

Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry taking the lead with California CBD reform

Some critics point out that the language of CA-AB 228, which was introduced by Assm. Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, contains too much vague language that might discriminate against cannabinoids other than THC. It’s just now that regulators and legislators around the country are starting to wrap their heads around the difference between THC and CBD, so it’s understandable that there’s a long way to go as we understand the effects and potential benefits of other cannabinoids like CBN and CBG.

CA-AB 228 doesn’t face all the problems facing CBD law in California, but it does solve one of the most pressing issues facing CBD commerce in America’s largest state. This bill hasn’t yet been signed into law, but all signs indicate that CA-AB 228 will be ratified shortly. Here at CBGenius, we’re glad to see movement in California regarding CBD, and we expect that even more exciting steps will be coming in the near future.