Unraveling the Complexities of CBD Law in Colorado

Wooden gavel resting on book of law

Colorado has some of the most progressive cannabis laws in the country. In November of 2012, Colorado voters passed Amendment 64, and alongside Washington State, it became one of the first states in the union to embrace heavily-taxed recreational marijuana use within its jurisdiction.

While lax, progressive cannabis laws like those in Colorado inevitably bring about a general legal climate of acceptance of CBD use, the battle to clearly define acceptable and unacceptable use of CBD in Colorado is far from over. Both state and federal laws have bearing on the legal complexities surrounding CBD law in Colorado, and in this guide, we’ll unravel it all and explain the legal status of CBD in this state in plain English.

Is CBD Legal in Colorado?

For all intents and purposes, yes. The average consumer in Colorado is free to either import CBD products across state lines or purchase CBD from state-sanctioned Colorado recreational or medical marijuana dispensaries. Just because owning and using CBD in Colorado is far more legal than it is illegal, however, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be up to date on the various factors that are currently shaping the future of CBD law in this state.

Amendment 64 made it legal for all Colorado residents and visitors to the Centennial State to purchase and consume cannabis products in reasonable amounts. Unlike some other states, Colorado doesn’t define CBD as a marijuana constituent. In this way, Colorado CBD law is congruent with federal CBD law, which also no longer considers CBD to be analogous with cannabis.

Instead, Colorado law regards CBD as an industrial hemp product, which means that it’s governed by Title 35 Article 61 of the Colorado Revised Statutes and 8 CCR 1203-23. Industrial hemp production and regulation in this state is the purview of the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA), and specifically, CBD falls under the following legal definition of industrial hemp in Colorado:

“[A] plant of the genus Cannabis and any part of the plant, whether growing or not, containing a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of no more than three-tenths of one percent (0.3% THC) on a dry weight basis.”

Colorado home with mountains in the background
Colorado’s progressive cannabis laws make things easier for CBD users

How Do Colorado Cannabis Laws Affect CBD’s Legal Status?

Whether it’s at the state or federal level, defining isolate CBD oil and CBD-rich hemp oil as industrial hemp products would seemingly clear the air of any confusion regarding CBD’s legality. However, the state of Colorado has clearly implied that it would prefer to garnish the tax revenue it receives from THC-rich recreational cannabis products with the potential earnings from CBD commerce within the state, and the federal government is equally transparent in its push to classify CBD as a pharmaceutical drug and regulate the general market CBD industry into oblivion.

While relevant state and federal authorities are both openly hostile to the notion of the common folk trading CBD freely, both the Colorado government and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have had to begrudgingly admit that enforcing a systemic crackdown on general market CBD would vastly exceed the resources available to either governing entity. The overwhelming popularity of general market CBD in Colorado and beyond has temporarily put the regulatory forces that would impinge on its freedom of growth in a legal headlock, which means that there’s never been a better or safer time for Colorado residents to purchase and use CBD.

Colorado CBD Law: Summing It Up

Here are the bullet points you need to keep in mind as you consider the current state of Colorado CBD law:

  • Amendment 64 made it legal for adults 21 or over to purchase and consume cannabis products in Colorado
  • Many state-sponsored recreational and medical marijuana stores in Colorado sell CBD products
  • Title 35 Article 61 of the Colorado Revised Statutes defines CBD as an industrial hemp product rather than a cannabis product, which therefore establishes CBD as a general market product in Colorado
  • CBD is freely available at general market retailers in Colorado, both Colorado bureaucrats and relevant federal entities have indicated their disinterest in cracking down on this market, and thousands of CBD products are shipped into Colorado from other states every day without interference
  • Colorado’s permissive cannabis laws make legal troubles over individual CBD ownership in this state practically unthinkable

Most of the confusion regarding CBD law in Colorado stems from one simple fact: Colorado legislators never specifically legalized CBD sale or use in this state. However, all cannabis products are legal for adults to possess and use in Colorado, and this state’s industrial hemp definition dovetails with the commonly-accepted definition of CBD as a cannabis product containing less than 0.3% THC.

While Colorado state agencies may continue to battle it out over CBD’s specific statewide definition for some time, it’s all noise in the end. Colorado’s CBD market is too big to kill, and the important work is already done: Both cannabis and industrial hemp are legal in Colorado, and federal law has stricken CBD from the definition of cannabis. While CBD producers like us at CBGenius will still have to face regulatory hurdles as relevant agencies come to grips with the fact that general market CBD isn’t going anywhere, the chances of individuals being charged with crimes for owning CBD in Colorado have essentially dropped to zero with recent legislative changes.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration headquarters
The FDA still has some things to say about general market CBD

The Impact of Federal CBD Law

2018 will long be known as the year that fully reshaped the conversation surrounding CBD at the federal level. Bowing to the pressure generated from the ever-growing national CBD market, federal legislators were finally forced to remove CBD from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)’s definition of cannabis pursuant to the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.

While the DEA may no longer have the authority to prosecute CBD users or manufacturers, that doesn’t mean the federal government is going to keep its hands off the CBD industry. On the contrary, as the recent FDA approval of Epidiolex shows, the federal government is keen to funnel the benefits of CBD into the regulated pharmaceutical sector.

Epidiolex is a synthetic CBD analogue, and it has none of the benefits of full-spectrum hemp oil. Instead, it is essentially a synthetic version of CBD isolate, which doesn’t benefit from the entourage effect. Despite the fact that Epidiolex is inferior to genuine CBD, the big pharma product pipeline will require products like Epidiolex to steal the thunder of the general market CBD industry and funnel its consumers into purchasing state-sanctioned, pharmaceutical versions of CBD.

The Feds’ New Position

In explaining the FDA’s new position on CBD, outgoing commissioner Scott Gottlieb was quick to say that this agency still has purview over the general market CBD industry. In the commissioner’s own words, “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.”

So, just like the FDA regulates pharmaceutical drugs, certain kinds of supplements, and food labels, this government agency has firmly stated its intent to take the helm in determining the standards by which CBD companies must operate to maintain legal status. It’s unclear, however, how much the FDA’s blustering will directly impact the CBD industry directly.

What It All Means

While the FDA still has some restrictions on the types of CBD products that can be sold across state lines, most CBD manufacturers have taken the changes in the 2018 Farm Bill as encouragement. Now that there’s no chance of being prosecuted by the DEA for making, selling, or using CBD, users of this substance all over the country have won a degree of freedom.

With this freedom of commerce comes the inevitable mainstreaming of CBD products, and it’s unmistakably clear exactly what the pharmaceutical industry and its proxies at the FDA have planned for this natural, hemp-based substance. Over the years, the FDA has commonly served as the mechanism of acquisition of powerful healing tools that emerged outside the mainstream, and it has also served as the weapon the pharmaceutical lobby uses to destroy competition.

It certainly appears, however, that the heavy-handed techniques the FDA usually uses under similar circumstances are doomed to fail in the case of CBD. The industry has simply grown too big to control, and while the FDA’s efforts might force disreputable companies to cease making unsubstantiated medical claims and subject CBD companies to much-needed production method scrutiny, it’s highly unlikely that the federal government has the time or the manpower to completely eliminate CBD from the general market.

If this federal agency had gotten started 10 or 15 years ago, it might have had a chance, but at this point, extreme force would be necessary to entirely kill the general market CBD industry, and in the social media age, the PR fallout from such a measure would be disastrous to the FDA. Instead of cracking down on CBD manufacturers across the country, the FDA’s Gottlieb has extended the olive branch and said, “let’s talk.”

On May 31st, 2019, the FDA will hold a public hearing to “give stakeholders an opportunity to provide the FDA with additional input relevant to the agency’s regulatory strategy related to existing products, as well as the lawful pathways by which appropriate products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds can be marketed, and how we can make these legal pathways more predictable and efficient. We hope to gain additional information and data for the FDA to consider with respect to products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds, including CBD.”

The FDA is essentially asking for help in regulating CBD because it doesn’t know what to do. Now, does that seem like a federal agency that’s going to bust down your door at 5 AM asking where you got your CBD oil?

"Cannabis Station" recreational marijuana store in Colorado
Some things in Colorado never change

What Do Colorado Residents Need to Know?

When it comes right down to it, three aspects of CBD law matter to Colorado residents and visitors to the Centennial State:

  1. All cannabis products are legal to possess and use within the state boundaries of Colorado
  2. In Colorado, CBD is not considered to be a cannabis product, and it is regulated by the CDA as an industrial hemp product
  3. The DEA has stricken CBD from its definition of cannabis, which removes CBD’s Schedule I drug status

Do these three facts mean that the legal status of CBD is entirely settled? No. Do they mean that Colorado residents have nothing to fear from buying CBD in Colorado or purchasing it across state lines? Yes.

Sidle on up to CBGenius.net

Where Can I Get CBD Oil in Colorado?

It’s important to remember that not all CBD is equal. One positive aspect of the FDA’s increased interest in CBD is the increased regulatory scrutiny that will be imposed on disreputable CBD companies. It’s unclear, however, how this regulatory oversight will apply to CBD-rich products sold at state-sanctioned recreational and medical marijuana shops. Before you purchase CBD in Colorado, you should know the different ways you can get this compound and determine the best option at your disposal:

1. Recreational Cannabis Stores

Colorado recreational marijuana dispensaries can sell state-authorized CBD products. However, these products are only subject to the scrutiny of the Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR), so there’s no way to determine the quality of CBD products sold in recreational cannabis shops.

Plus, according to Jesse at The Greenery in Durango, Colorado, most recreational cannabis stores in the state don’t sell general market CBD products due to tax complexities. The CBD products you’ll find at Colorado recreational cannabis shops invariably have higher THC concentrations than are allowed in general market CBD products, so if you don’t want to get high when you use CBD, don’t go to a recreational dispensary.

2. Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Even though all Colorado residents now have access to cannabis products, this state has retained its medical marijuana program, which flies in the face of Washington State’s unremitting crackdown on untaxed medical marijuana shops that started the moment this state’s recreational marijuana laws came into effect. However, there’s no way to guarantee the quality or potency of CBD products you purchase as a Colorado medical marijuana cardholder.

3. General Market Retailers

When you shop for CBD from a general market retailer in Colorado, you gain access to increased product options, and you also have the option of purchasing CBD products that have no THC or THC levels low enough that you won’t experience any of the psychoactive effects of this cannabinoid. Just because general market retailers give you access to more CBD product options, however, is no guarantee that you’ll pick the right CBD product when you visit a natural foods store or vape shop. There are plenty of irresponsible general market CBD companies out there, and you’ll need to learn the difference between a good company and a bad company before you proceed.

4. Online from CBGenius

The internet has always been and remains the best place to buy CBD despite the increased availability of this beneficial cannabinoid in recreational shops, medical shops, and general market stores across the country. When you shop for CBD online, you gain access to the largest possible pool of product options, and the incredible degree of competition you find in the online CBD market is always pushing manufacturers to produce excellent products.

For example, this competition gave birth to CBGenius, which is the most scientifically-backed CBD company in this cannabinoid’s general market history. With a team of Ph.D. CBD researchers supporting our explosive growth, we produce the highest-quality cannabidiol products on the internet.

Our research has led us to recognize that both isolate CBD and CBD-rich hemp oil have unique benefits, which is why we offer Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil Extracts and Isolated CBD. Different routes of administration are more effective for different applications, so in addition to oral CBD products, we also offer CBD vape cartridges, CBD lotions, and even CBD bath bombs.

As leaders in CBD innovation, we’re always coming up with better, safer, and more effective ways to deliver the benefits of CBD directly to your door. We proudly ship to addresses in Colorado, so whether you want to receive the best CBD products science can offer at your home or your place of business, we’ve got you covered.

CBGenius CBD manufacturer logo

Summing It Up: CBD Law in Colorado

Out of all the states that have legalized recreational cannabis, Colorado seems to have the most reasonable bureaucratic structure for handling CBD. While Colorado law stopped short of specifically dealing with the issue of CBD in its cannabis or industrial hemp legislation, the confluence of cannabis legalization in Colorado, this state’s definition of industrial hemp, and the recent federal descheduling of CBD make now the best time in Colorado’s history to try the benefits of CBD for yourself.

For us at CBGenius, we’re encouraged by the evolution of CBD law in Colorado. Everywhere in the nation, from Kansas to Florida to Maine, state legislators are voting to fully legalize CBD, and many of these states have looked to Colorado as a model for proper CBD legislation. Residents of the Centennial State now have a wealth of options when it comes to sourcing CBD, but our focus on quality and attention to detail still makes CBGenius the preeminent source of full-spectrum hemp products and isolate CBD for everyone in Colorado who wants to experience the incredible benefits of cannabidiol firsthand.

As the ongoing saga of CBD law in America continues to unfold, we’ll be your source of the latest information on cannabidiol developments and how they affect your ability to use CBD free of government overreach. Make sure to check back for updates, and please don’t hesitate to reach out with any comments or questions about the evolution of CBD law in your state.

One thought on “Unraveling the Complexities of CBD Law in Colorado

  1. Vince says:

    Thank you for this amazing article Samuel – this part:
    “It certainly appears, however, that the heavy-handed techniques the FDA usually uses under similar circumstances are doomed to fail in the case of CBD.”
    I truly hope you’re correct, and I do tend to agree with your perspective. What we really need, as you state, are some reasonable regulations that penalize those companies operating without regulation and to reward those that follow customer-protecting regulations.

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