Products containing hemp-derived CBD are legal in Connecticut. In January 2019, Senate Bill 893 legalized both hemp production and hemp-derived CBD products in the state. Products containing CBD can be sold as consumables or topicals, but are prohibited from making any claim of health impacts, medical effects, or physical or mental benefits.
CBD derived from marijuana is also legal, but only for patients with qualifying medical conditions. Connecticut has had a medical marijuana program in place since 2012. Adult-use marijuana remains illegal, although Connecticut decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2011.
What is CBD?
CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis. After tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) is the second-most abundant cannabinoid in the plant, and has many potential therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety and seizure-suppressant properties. CBD can be sourced from both marijuana plants and hemp plants, which are legal in most countries as they contain minuscule amounts of THC.
Combine THC and CBD to fully employ the entourage effect; THC and CBD work hand-in-hand to amplify each others' effects.
Why is CBD sometimes illegal?
All types of cannabis, including hemp strains that don't produce enough THC to cause intoxication, were considered illegal under the Federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The law categorized all cannabis as Schedule I, which defined the plant as a highly addictive substance with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.
The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 re-classified hemp as an agricultural commodity and made its cultivation federally legal. Further, the act removed some forms of cannabis from Schedule I status by creating a legal distinction between hemp and marijuana. Hemp is cannabis with less than .3% THC, and marijuana refers to cannabis with more than .3% THC. This distinction in federal law effectively legalized CBD that is derived from cannabis with less than .3% THC, as long as it has been cultivated according to federal and state regulations.
The 2018 Hemp Farming Bill legislation does not mean that CBD derived from hemp is universally legal throughout the United States. According to the Hemp Farming Bill, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the power to regulate CBD product labeling, including therapeutic claims and the use of CBD as a food additive.
The FDA declared that even hemp-derived CBD may not legally be added to food and beverages, or marketed as a dietary supplement.Although the organization has begun to re-evaluate some of these stances on legal CBD products, the FDA has yet to revise its regulations regarding hemp-derived CBD. The agency also has been strict in its position against any labeling that could be perceived as a medical claim about CBD.
In addition to federal regulation of CBD, the Hemp Farming Bill also gave states the option to regulate and prohibit the cultivation and commerce of CBD. States may also regulate CBD in food, beverages, dietary supplements, and cosmetic products independently, even before the FDA finalizes its policies. Connecticut represents an example of a state that has chosen to embrace certain FDA policies while disregarding others.
Connecticut CBD laws
Current Connecticut legislation permits the legal sale and purchase of CBD through two channels.
Hemp cultivation and hemp-derived CBD products were legalized in May 2019 under Senate Bill 893. The bill, which is also known as An Act Concerning A Pilot Program For Hemp Production, legalizes the sale of hemp products in Connecticut. Hemp products are defined as products created by processing hemp plants or hemp plant parts with a THC concentration of no more than .3 % on a dry weight basis.
Further, hemp-derived CBD products intended for ingestion are considered food, not controlled substances or adulterated products. These products are prohibited, however, from making any claim of health impacts, medical effects, physical benefits, or mental benefits.
Connecticut's position on the sale of CBD products was further clarified in a memo issued by the state's Department of Consumer Protection. Connecticut allows businesses to sell a wide range of CBD products, including smokable and vaporizable forms of CBD, edibles, drinkables, topicals, and more. The only requirement for any CBD product in Connecticut is that the CBD was sourced from a legally-grown hemp plant containing less than .3% THC by weight. Connecticut does not make any distinctions between hemp sourced in-state or out-of-state, on the provision that it contains less than .3% THC.
The channel for acquiring cannabis-derived CBD is through Connecticut's medical marijuana program. Patients with a qualifying health condition and a state-issued medical marijuana card may purchase cannabis products at state-regulated medical marijuana dispensaries.
Licensing requirements for CBD
The Connecticut Department of Agriculture oversees the state's hemp program, with the Commissioner of Agriculture responsible for issuing licenses. Individuals who wish to cultivate, process, or manufacture hemp in Connecticut must apply for a license. The application must include GPS coordinates of the intended plot location and written consent, allowing scheduled and random inspections from the Commissioner of Agriculture. Hemps seeds must be certified by the Commissioner of Agriculture.
No individuals with felony convictions will be eligible to acquire a grower's license. The application fee is $50. Those who are licensed to grow hemp must pay a biennial grower's fee of $50 per acre, and processors must pay an annual fee of $250. Those who grow, process or manufacture hemp without a valid license may be subject to a fine of $250.
The sale of hemp-derived CBD in Connecticut does not require a license, provided that the CBD products that are sold have been produced legally under state law.
Connecticut CBD possession limits
There are currently no possession limits in Connecticut for hemp-derived CBD. There are limits in place, however, for the possession of cannabis-derived CBD. A person holding a medical marijuana card can purchase up to 2.5 ounces per month of cannabis products. These products can contain both THC and CBD.
While Connecticut has not expressed specific penalties related to the possession of cannabis-derived CBD, individuals without a medical marijuana registration card found in possession of cannabis are subject to penalties. Those with less than half an ounce, for whom it is their first offense, may receive a maximum $150 fine.
Those with less than half an ounce, for whom it is a subsequent offense, may receive a maximum $500 fine. Those with more than half an ounce may be charged with a misdemeanor, be sentenced up to a year in prison, and may receive a maximum fine of $2000.
Where to buy CBD in Connecticut
CBD products derived from hemp can be found throughout Connecticut in retail outlets such as convenience stores, health food stores, and a growing number of CBD-specific retailers.
CBD products derived from cannabis are only available from state-licensed dispensaries.
Shopping online for CBD represents another option for purchase. Consumers can buy from a wide variety of online outlets for CBD products, read consumer reviews, and ship purchases to their homes.
Online shopping also offers the ability to gather detailed information about each product, compare different products and product types, and compare prices on various products. CBD brands often also have their own ecommerce shop, allowing the consumer to purchase their desired CBD products straight from the source. Find out more about where to purchase CBD.
How to read CBD labels and packaging
The 2018 Hemp Farming Bill shifted the oversight of hemp and hemp-derived products from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA does not presently allow CBD-infused food, drinks, or dietary supplements to be sold, and hasn't yet provided regulations for hemp-derived CBD products.
Still, the agency warns that regulations in flux nonetheless require companies to make legitimate claims on their labels. Buyers should nevertheless approach CBD products with caution. Most reputable CBD producers 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.
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 cannabinoids and terpenes, including whatever trace amounts of THC the plant may have produced. Consuming full-spectrum CBD may yield better results thanks to the entourage effect, a phenomenon in which the mixture of cannabinoids and terpenes work together to produce a more pleasant experience.
Broad-spectrum means that the product contains CBD and terpenes, but has undergone additional processes to strip out any THC.