Yes, cannabidiol (CBD) oil is currently legal in Illinois.
In May 2019, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which will legalize recreational cannabis on in January 2020, making the Land of Lincoln the 11th state to allow adult-use marijuana.
Medicinal marijuana has been legal since the Illinois General Assembly passed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act in 2013. The state has taken a careful approach to hemp and hemp-derived products, including CBD oil. Until recently, Illinois restricted cultivation of industrial hemp for research purposes only. In August 2018, the state passed SB 2298, also known as the Industrial Hemp Act, which lifted restrictions on industrial hemp and allowed cultivation for commercial purposes.
After the 2018 Farm Bill became law in December 2018, many states have been revising their approach to hemp, hemp-derived CBD, and hemp-derived CBD products.
What is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is the second-most-prominent cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant after THC. Unlike THC, which produces the high typically associated with cannabis, CBD is non-intoxicating. It also shows significant promise as a therapeutic treatment because of its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-anxiety properties, as well as its potential to suppress seizure activity.
Why is CBD sometimes illegal?
Hemp strains don't produce enough THC to cause intoxication, yet every type of cannabis was considered illegal under the 1970 Federal Controlled Substances Act. The legislation categorized all cannabis — including hemp — as Schedule 1, which defined cannabis as a substance with no accepted medical use, a high potential for abuse, and a likelihood for addiction.
That all changed with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp cultivation and created a pathway to remove some cannabis from Schedule 1 status by creating a clear legal divide between the different types of cannabis. Under the new legislation, hemp is defined as cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC by weight, while marijuana is defined as cannabis that contains more than 0.3% THC. The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp-derived CBD from its Schedule 1 classification, but marijuana and marijuana-derived CBD remain federally illegal. Also, though hemp is now considered an agricultural commodity, it must be produced and sold under regulations implemented by the bill. To date, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has yet to create these regulations.
The Farm Bill preserved the power of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate CBD's therapeutic claims, labeling, and use as a food additive. However, despite the passage of the Farm Bill and the removal of hemp-derived CBD as a Schedule 1 substance, the FDA has taken the stance that even hemp-derived CBD may not be marketed as a dietary supplement or added to any food or beverage products. Currently, the FDA is re-evaluating that stance, but it hasn't revised the rules or regulations surrounding CBD products, leading to further confusion. During the re-evaluation process, the FDA has also been strict against CBD products, brands, and retailers making health claims or content that could be interpreted as medical advice.
While the federal legislation still highly regulates the production and sale of hemp and hemp-derived cannabinoids, including CBD, the Farm Bill also gives states the power to further regulate or even outright prohibit CBD cultivation and commerce. States also have the power to regulate the use of CBD in food, dietary supplements, beverages, and cosmetic products independently of the FDA finalizing its rules.
Illinois CBD laws
While the state passed the Industrial Hemp Act prior to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, the Illinois Department of Agriculture adopted a set of temporary rules under the Industrial Hemp Act in early 2019. Under these rules, the state's definition of industrial hemp remained consistent with the federal government's limit of 0.3% THC by weight.
The adopted rules also outline the legality of hemp-derived CBD products, including CBD oil. Under the temporary rules, the sale and transfer of all hemp and hemp-derived products that are in compliance with the state and federal definition is legal, both within and outside of Illinois.
Licensing requirements for CBD
While both the 2018 Farm Bill and the Industrial Hemp Act make the cultivation and sale of hemp-derived CBD legal, in order to legally cultivate hemp applicants must submit an application for each noncontiguous land area and each indoor cultivation operation area to the Illinois Department of Agriculture with:
- Name and Personal address.
- Business address.
- Type of business or organization.
- Map and legal description of the proposed growing area.
- Types of hemp proposed for cultivation.
- $100 application fee.
Applications are processed within 30 days and, if approved, cultivation licenses are valid for up to three calendar years from the date of issuance. Current licensing fees are $1,000 for a three-year license; $700 for a two-year license; and $375 for a one-year license. Under current regulations, anyone with a prior felony related to controlled substances in the 10 years prior to their application date is ineligible for a hemp cultivation license. Failure to comply with licensing procedures may result in fines of up to $10,000 per violation.
Hemp is also subject to random testing to ensure that THC concentration does not exceed 0.3% by weight. Samples are collected by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and are tested directly by the department or sent to an approved third-party lab for testing. If THC levels are found to be between 0.3% and 0.7%, licensees have the opportunity to pay for a retest. Otherwise, the hemp must be destroyed.
Labeling requirements for CBD
Hemp-derived CBD must follow labeling requirements for cannabis-infused products and contain the following:
- The name and post office box of the cultivation center.
- Registered name of the cannabis product.
- A serial number that aligns with the producer batch and lot number.
- Date of testing and packaging.
- Identification of the testing laboratory.
- Date of manufacture and “use by” date
- Content of THC, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), CBD, cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and any other ingredients besides cannabis.
- Clear language that the product is not for medical use and not for resale or transfer.
Illinois CBD possession limits
It is legal to cultivate and sell hemp-derived CBD, including CBD oil, in Illinois, but there are no defined possession limits in place.
Where to buy CBD in Illinois
Hemp-derived CBD products — including CBD oil — are available in a variety of online or retail stores. It's important to research CBD and purchase products from a reputable source since the manufacture and sale of CBD products remain largely unregulated.
How to read CBD labels and packaging
Illinois has strict labeling requirements for cannabis-infused products, and even if you purchase online, most reputable CBD producers will typically include the following information on their CBD product labels:
- Amount of active CBD per serving.
- Supplement Fact panel, including other ingredients.
- Net weight.
- Manufacturer or distributor name.
- Suggested use.
- Full spectrum, broad spectrum, or isolate.
- Batch or date code.