Yes, you can purchase hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) oil and other CBD products in Louisiana. In 2019, state lawmakers passed legislation that clearly defines and establishes a new legal framework for CBD and CBD products. Prior to the measure, the CBD market in Louisiana was almost entirely unregulated.
Under the state's new law, hemp-derived CBD oil and a number of other CBD products are legal. However, there are also a number of new restrictions on the types of CBD products that are permitted. Additionally, there are still key pieces of Louisiana's CBD laws that are being formulated. As these laws take shape, expect to see more changes to how Louisiana governs and regulates CBD.
What is CBD?
The cannabis plant naturally produces more than 400 chemical compounds, at least 60 of which are cannabinoid compounds. Cannabinoids interact with the human body's endocannabinoid system to produce a broad range of physical and psychoactive effects.
CBD is the second-most-prevalent cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant behind THC. Generally speaking, THC produces marijuana's intoxicating effects, while CBD is non-intoxicating and is thought to be responsible for a wide range of the plant's therapeutic and medicinal qualities.
To date, researchers have identified a number of potential health benefits linked to CBD, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety, and anti-seizure properties. Further, the chemical has shown promise in treating numerous health conditions, including epilepsy and other seizure disorders; mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis; as well as pain relief.
As research remains ongoing, there is a growing body of evidence pointing to CBD's potential efficacy in medical applications and as a health supplement.
Why is CBD sometimes illegal?
Even though hemp strains don't produce enough THC to cause intoxication, all types of cannabis, including hemp, were considered illegal under the 1970 Federal Controlled Substances Act. The legislation swept all cannabis into Schedule 1, which defined cannabis as a substance with a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use, and a likelihood for addiction.
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp cultivation and created a pathway to remove some cannabis from Schedule 1 status by creating a legal threshold between hemp and marijuana. Hemp is cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC by weight, while marijuana is cannabis that contains more than 0.3% THC. Hemp-derived CBD was thus descheduled by the bill, but CBD that is derived from the marijuana plant is still considered federally illegal because marijuana is categorized as a Schedule 1 substance. While hemp is now considered an agricultural commodity, it still must be produced and sold under regulations that implement the bill. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has yet to create these regulations.
The Farm Bill also granted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with authority to regulate CBD's labeling, therapeutic claims, and its use as a food additive. Despite the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the FDA has taken the stance that even hemp-derived CBD may not be added to food and beverages, nor marketed as dietary supplements. While the FDA has begun a process of re-evaluating its stance, it has yet to revise its rules or specifically regulate CBD products, leading to further confusion. The FDA has been strict when it comes to health claims and content that could be construed as medical advice about CBD.
The federal legislation thus still highly regulates the production and sale of hemp, and its cannabinoids, including CBD. The Farm Bill also provides that states may regulate and even prohibit CBD cultivation and commerce. In addition, states may attempt to regulate CBD food, beverage, dietary supplement, and cosmetic products, independently of the FDA finalizing its views on such products.
Louisiana CBD laws
In June 2019, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed HB 491 into law. This is arguably the most important law related to CBD oil and other CBD products in Louisiana, as it explicitly defines and legalizes CBD in the state. It also lays out whether certain CBD products are allowed in the state, and outlines a number of regulations related to cultivation, production, labeling, distribution, and retail.
Prior to the passage of HB 491, Louisiana's CBD market was wide open. Without clear legal definitions or any established framework in place, it was very easy to purchase a wide range of CBD products.
That began to change in early 2019, when the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy and the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) started notifying businesses selling CBD that what they were doing was illegal. According to these agencies, it was illegal to sell CBD in Louisiana because the state did not make any distinction between marijuana and hemp. Before HB 491 was passed, Louisiana law enforcement simply lumped all forms of the cannabis plant together as a single illegal substance.
At the time, this put Louisiana at odds with the federal law established by the 2018 Farm Bill. HB 491 was passed in order to address this discrepancy.. For the most part, this bill brought Louisiana state law into alignment with federal rules. The most important rules established in HB 491 include:
- Hemp plants with less than 0.3% THC are legal in Louisiana.
- Products derived from legal hemp plants are also legal in the state. That includes CBD oil and other hemp CBD products.
- The bill puts the bulk of the state's CBD industry under the jurisdiction of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC).
- The ATC now oversees CBD in much the same way it manages alcohol and tobacco sales in the state.
- To sell hemp-derived CBD products, a retailer must first be licensed by the ATC.
- Cultivators and producers must meet new labeling requirements, geared primarily toward providing proof that the products have been tested for allowable levels of THC.
Louisiana CBD possession limits
There are no limits on how much hemp-derived CBD a person can possess in Louisiana. However, there are a number of restrictions on the types of CBD products that can legally be sold and purchased. Louisiana's rules conform to rules established by the FDA. It is currently illegal to sell the following types of CBD:
- Inhalable CBD.
- Food products that contain CBD.
- Alcoholic beverages that contain CBD.
- Any CBD used as a food additive.
- CBD marketed as a dietary supplement.
Where to buy CBD in Louisiana
Prior to the passage of HB 491, CBD products were widely available throughout the state. Now, retailers are required to get a license from the ATC. As a result, there are fewer places selling CBD products — especially if businesses have to wait for applications to be processed. In the weeks after the measure was passed, the ATC reportedly received more than 500 applications for retail permits. The agency began issuing permits in late June 2019.
Currently, CBD oil and other CBD products can be purchased online or at state-licensed retailers including liquor stores, gas stations, convenience stores, health food stores, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, and CBD-specific retailers.
When it comes to online sales, CBD is most frequently found on brand-specific websites. You can also find verified CBD brands on Weedmaps.
Reputable brands should provide important product details including what form the CBD is in (i.e., oil, capsules, topicals, tincture, etc.), how much CBD the product contains, and what other ingredients are in the product.
When purchasing from a retailer, especially if it's a CBD specialist, you can typically get in-person help and expertise from an employee. Explain what you're looking for and why you are consuming CBD and they can point you in the right direction.
How to read CBD labels and packaging
Under current Louisiana laws, CBD product labels must include a disclaimer that the product has not been approved by the FDA and a scannable barcode linking the product to its certificate of analysis showing that it does not contain more than 0.3% THC. Additionally, CBD products cannot be labeled as a dietary supplement.
In addition to the above labeling requirements, most reputable CBD producers will typically include the following information:
- 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.
One of the most important things to pay attention to is whether a CBD product is “full spectrum,” “broad spectrum,” or “isolate.”
Full spectrum means that the CBD has been extracted from a hemp plant along with all other chemicals in the plant, including terpenes and trace amounts of THC. Consuming full-spectrum CBD may yield better results thanks to the entourage effect, a phenomenon in which the entire mixture of cannabinoids and terpenes work together and complement one another inside the body.
Broad spectrum means that the product contains CBD and terpenes, but has undergone additional processes to strip out any THC.
Finally, CBD isolate is a product that has gone through more intensive processing to remove everything except for CBD. Consuming isolate may produce different effects than full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD, as these products do not produce the entourage effect.