Is CBD Oil in New York legal?
New York CBD Laws 
Answering the question of whether or not CBD is legal in New York City is like trying to hit a bullseye on a swinging dartboard. The answer today might not be the same as the answer was yesterday or might be tomorrow. Overall, the answer is, yes, CBD is legal in New York. However, you can’t just waltz into 7 Eleven, CVS, or Walmart and get yourself a big old bottle of CBD oil. At least not yet.
There are actually two kinds of CBD oil and each comes with its own questions and answers. Residents of New York State have two options. Option 1 is CBD-rich cannabis oil made from marijuana (probably gets you high). Option 2 is CBD oil derived from hemp (definitely doesn’t get you high). Both hemp and marijuana are essentially types of cannabis with varying amounts of active compounds.
New York CBD Laws – 2019
Difference Between Hemp & Marijuana CBD
Health Benefits of CBD Oil
New York’s Medical Marijuana Program Details
Where To Legally Buy CBD Oil in New York
Just a few years back, Option 1 was not an option as marijuana was completely illegal in New York until a medical marijuana program was enacted in 2014. Today, only those who qualify for a medical marijuana card can take advantage of Option 1 and legally purchase cannabis oil made from marijuana. Tomorrow, this may change, however, as it’s looking very likely that the state of New York will legalize the recreational use of marijuana before the end of 2019. If this happens, then all adults age 21 and older will be able to legally purchase high-CBD cannabis oil made from marijuana from any licensed retailer.
Option 2, buying CBD oil in NYC derived from hemp, was also essentially illegal up until 2014 when that year’s farm bill included provisions for state-regulated hemp pilot programs. And some, including the DEA, would argue that it was still illegal. That is until recently when the latest farm bill removed hemp from the DEA’s list of controlled substances completely and put its regulation in the hands of the Department of Agriculture and individual U.S. states. Today, assuming its grown within state and federal rules, the cultivation of hemp and extraction of its CBD-rich extracts is completely legal.
But that’s not the whole story. According to another federal agency, the Food And Drug Administration, refining hemp extracts to produce pure CBD isolates for the purpose of adding to food is a no-no. Tomorrow, this may also be a moot point as the FDA is working towards determining if CBD can be awarded what’s known as GRAS status, or “generally regarded as safe” for human consumption.
Here’s where things get a little tricky. In December of 2018, in reaction to the signing of the farm bill, New York state announced that the production of CBD vape oil and the use of CBD as a food additive would be banned in the state in accordance with FDA rules. Furthermore, manufacturers of hemp-derived CBD oil are now required to put their products through the same testing rigors as medical marijuana products.
What’s The Difference?
As mentioned, marijuana and hemp are both the same species of plant, but each is bred to produce a different balance of cannabinoids — THC and CBD being, by far, the two most common.
The strains of cannabis that are used to produce medical marijuana contain varying levels of cannabinoids up to as high as 20-25 percent, give or take. Some strains of marijuana have very little CBD, some have relatively equal amounts of THC and CBD, and some are actually much higher in CBD than in THC. But the one thing all of these strains have in common is that they contain enough THC to qualify as marijuana and therefore fall under the state’s marijuana laws. This means they can only be purchased by those who have been approved for a medical marijuana card, only in prescribed amounts (1 oz max.), and only from licensed dispensaries.
The strains of cannabis that contain less than 0.5% THC fall under the state’s classification of hemp rather than marijuana. (That limit will probably be reduced to 0.3% to match the Federal definition of hemp put forth in the 2018 Farm Bill.) At these very low THC levels, CBD oil made from hemp will not cause a high. Therefore, rather than falling under the state’s medical marijuana laws, these products are governed by the state’s hemp laws.
An important distinction to be made is do not confuse CBD oil with hemp seed oil. The latter is produced by pressing the seeds of the hemp plant. Because cannabinoid-rich oils are extracted from the plant’s flowers, the hemp strains used to produce CBD oil are female only — no males allowed.
In order to produce high-quality CBD oil growers use a strain of hemp called PCR hemp, or phytocannabinoid-rich hemp. PCR hemp is actually not a modified strain of industrial hemp, but rather a strain of marijuana that has had the THC bred out of it. It looks like marijuana, smells like marijuana, and is grown and harvested in much the say way as marijuana.
In order to extract the plant’s essential oils, the flowers are dried and ground then soaked in a solvent such as ethanol or liquid CO2. When the solvent is evaporated it leaves behind raw cannabis extract. The next step is to filter out unwanted compounds such as waxes and chlorophyll to produce a palatable product. The remaining oil contains the same ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes found in the original plant. This product is commonly referred to as a full-spectrum oil.
Full-spectrum oils can be further distilled to produce pure cannabinoids such as THC or CBD isolate. Because these isolates are odorless and flavorless they are often used in the making of products such as edibles and cosmetics. However, as we mentioned earlier, this is technically prohibited by current FDA rules. Nonetheless, many local shops and online retailers still offer these products.
What Are The Health Benefits of CBD Oil?
So, aside from one getting you high, what’s the difference between the two products in terms of their effects and benefits? There is an ongoing argument as to whether or not THC is essential to the plant’s healing powers. Some experts claim that without the THC the medicinal effects of the plant are diminished. However, after multiple rounds of clinical testing, the FDA recently approved a drug called Epidiolex for the treatment of epileptic seizures which is essentially pure CBD. So, its effects are now pretty much incontrovertible.
Scientific research into the medicinal benefits of CBD has been ramping up considerably over the past few decades, and especially in the past ten years. A mountain of research reports exists that attests to the fact that CBD oil may be effective for treating a wide variety of medical conditions. Unlike compounds that work on a single principle — Tylenol, for example — CBD’s effects are the result of its interaction with a vast and complex bodily system known as the endocannabinoid system, or ECS, which is involved in wide a variety of bodily functions. Some of these functions include immunoregulation, inflammatory response, nervous system activity, hormone production and much more. Furthermore, aside from its effects on the ECS, CBD has also been shown to provide antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal, and antioxidant effects.
The most common reasons that patients give for using CBD oil in New York City are reducing depression, anxiety, and stress, relieving pain, reducing nausea and improving appetite, improving sleep, and reducing seizures, spasms and other symptoms that come with conditions such as epilepsy, MS, and Parkinson’s disease. According to some researchers, who cite lab studies done on cultured cancer cells, CBD may even play a role in preventing the development and spread of cancers and possibly even treating established tumors via a process known as apoptosis in which the cells are essentially instructed to stop replicating.
New York State’s Medical Marijuana Program
So that’s a quick overview of the different types of CBD oil, their legal statuses, and their medicinal benefits. Let’s now go into a little more detail on the the state’s medical marijuana program.
Back in 2014, New York Governor Mario Cuomo signed into law the Compassionate Care Act which created legal protections for medical marijuana patients and caregivers and provided for a statewide regulatory system to license companies to cultivate and sell medical marijuana.
Under the law, in order to obtain a medical marijuana card, patients must have at least one of the qualifying medical conditions listed under the program and get approval from a state-certified physician.
Once a patient has been examined, the physician will determine the “dosage” patients should be using to treat their condition and may then specify a 30-day supply of medicine. This essentially limits the amount of marijuana-derived products that the patient may legally possess.
Once a patient has been approved for a medical marijuana card, the prescribing physician must report all patient information related to certification to the New York State Department of Health. In order for a patient to continue to enjoy ongoing legal access to their medicine, they must maintain an ongoing relationship with their physician.
Originally, medical conditions which qualified residents for a medical marijuana card included ALS, cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, Huntington’s Disease, IBD, MS, Parkinson’s Disease and others. Within the past few years, however, the state has added chronic pain and PTSD to the list as well as allowing the use of medical marijuana as a substitute for opioid prescriptions.
In order for a doctor to approve a patient with one or more of the above conditions they must display any of the following symptoms:
- Cachexia / Wasting Syndrome
- Opioid Use Disorder
- Severe or Chronic Pain
- Severe Nausea
- Severe or Persistent Muscle Spasms
Additional qualifying conditions are being considered and added to the program on an ongoing basis. One of the changes the New York Department Of Health is considering is to give practitioners more discretion in determining whether or not a patient can benefit from the use of medical marijuana. Furthermore, the DOH wants to increase the number of practitioners available to certify patients.
And, as we mentioned, state lawmakers are carefully considering complete legalization of marijuana which would make it legal for anyone 21 and older to purchase CBD oil containing THC.
One word of warning, however. Consuming cannabis oils which contain THC puts the user at risk of failing a drug test or a roadside sobriety test and could result in loss of employment, suspension of driver’s licenses, hefty fines, and possibly even jail time.
Where To Legally Purchase CBD Oil in New York State
Under New York State’s medical marijuana program, the state may license up to five organizations to cultivate and sell medical marijuana. Each licensed organization may operate up to four dispensaries in the state. As mentioned, dispensaries may only sell medical marijuana to patients or caregivers who hold a valid registry ID card.
Although the rules are much more liberal for hemp products, because the FDA is still a little antsy about it, you still can’t walk into 7 Eleven, CVS, or Walmart and pick up a bottle. That may change very soon. Maybe even by the time you read this article.
However, there are quite a few local shops in the State of New York that sell CBD oil. Furthermore, regardless of state rules against the production of CBD vape oils and edibles, many shops in the state of New York sell these products as well, along with the standard CBD oil drops and capsules. This is true especially in the larger cities such as New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, and Syracuse. Since the production of CBD vape oils and edibles are prohibited in the state, those products are likely to be imported from other states where their production is currently legal.
Another option for purchasing hemp-derived CBD oil and other CBD-infused products would be to purchase them online and have them delivered right to your doorstep.
Furthermore, in addition to standard CBD products, many local and online shops are now selling CBD oil products formulated especially for dogs and cats and other pets. It’s not recommended that you give your pets CBD oils formulated for human consumption.
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