Many sufferers of chronic pain, illness, anxiety, sleep disorders, or those looking for a recreational chill, have turned to CBD (cannabidiol) oil. Its popularity is hard to miss with CBD stores dotting the landscape and myriad products hitting the market.
While the hemp from which it is extracted was federally legalized as an agricultural commodity in the 2018 Farm Bill, there are many grey areas about its use. Failure to abide by local and federal laws could lead to mistakes that could cause loss of employment, misdemeanor or felony charges like drug trafficking, fines up to $250,000, and potential prison time.
The difference between hemp and marijuana
Hemp and marijuana are both derived from the cannabis plant. In the eyes of the law, the only legal difference between the two is the amount of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) present in its dry weight.
By look and smell, hemp and marijuana are virtually indistinguishable. This can lead to serious ramifications, especially in states where recreational or medicinal marijuana has not yet been legalized.
What is CBD?
CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis and industrial hemp. Some use this to relieve pain, inflammation, and mental stress, although this has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Most people incorporate CBD into their health routine through oils, lotions, gummies, and other infused foods or beverages. A smaller portion of the CBD-using population has turned to smokable hemp, which is the dried flower from the hemp plant that is high in CBD and contains amounts below the legal limit of THC.
CBD Legal Risks and Consequences
The legality of hemp and cannabis in the United States is a complex patchwork of federal, state, and local laws. In Missouri, industrial hemp under 0.3 percent THC is technically legal. However, there are still major laws and consequences of which to be aware.
Failed drug tests due to CBD use
Many CBD oils advertise they are THC-free. Unless the tincture is made with a CBD isolate powder, there is no way to truly remove all of the THC from a plant. It is simply reduced to levels that the scientific testing process cannot easily detect.
If one uses CBD oil regularly, this trace amount of THC can build up in your body, which can lead to positive drug tests. While it’s best to avoid using CBD products if a drug test determines your employment, many are unaware they could accidentally test positive.
In many industries, a positive marijuana test through CBD use, even with a medical explanation, can lead to termination or rescinded job offers.
Improper labeling or over-the-limit hemp flower
Smokable hemp flower prerolls and bulk flower have become a common sight at smoke shops. However, these hemp flower products are practically indistinguishable from actual marijuana. So much so that law enforcement officers cannot easily tell the difference between what is legal or not without laboratory testing. Some combat this by carrying a Certificate of Analysis (CofA) with them that shows the THC content of their product, but this isn’t foolproof.
Another issue arises from the amount of THC allowed. Federally, the law states that hemp products must contain under 0.3 percent delta-9 THC based on dry weight.1 However, there are other forms of THC, like the newly popular delta-8 in hemp flower. Some states, like Arkansas, require hemp to come in at 0.3 percent total THC.2
Missouri can go either way, with the law stating that hemp products must be under .3% total THC or it can be measured in delta-9 THC post-decarboxylation (a heating process that converts THC-A into delta-9 THC).
Why does this matter to consumers though? Some stores don’t properly understand the laws and sell hemp flower that is over the legal limit, which classifies it as marijuana. In fact, a chain of CBD stores was raided in Missouri in 2018 for selling flower that contained over .3% delta-9 THC.
If you have flower over the legal limit, do not have a proper Missouri medical marijuana card and it is tested by police, you could be charged with possession of a controlled substance. Hemp flower is commonly sold in 1 oz. containers, which is over 35 grams and that can lead to a Class D felony with up to seven years of prison.
State-to-state travel and drug trafficking
Some states have vastly different hemp laws. For example, in Idaho you can face felony charges and up to a 5-year sentence if traces of THC are found in your CBD goods, as there is no legal distinction between hemp and cannabis. Other states with similar laws include Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas.
If you carry hemp flower that contains over the legal limit of THC across state lines, you could be charged with a federal drug trafficking offense. Even with a small amount, you could face up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 3
When to contact an attorney
Drug trafficking and possession are serious offenses that could have life-altering consequences, including felony charges, prison time, and steep fines. If you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime, you should seek the counsel of a skilled attorney who has proven experience in aggressively defending against drug charges.