While 36 state and DC have legalized medical marijuana, the remaining 14 states have all passed laws allowing the use of cannabidiol (CBD) extract, usually in oil form, with minimal or no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and often for the treatment of epilepsy or seizures in seriously ill children. CBD, one of the 400+ ingredients found in marijuana, is not psychoactive.
ProCon.org does not consider passing a CBD-specific law to be the equivalent of making medical marijuana legal because these laws do not legalize use of the marijuana plant for medical purposes. See our resource on the legal medical marijuana states for more information.
On Apr. 1, 2014, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed SB 174 known as “Carly’s Law,” which allows an affirmative defense against prosecution for CBD possession by people suffering from a debilitating epileptic condition. The law states that “a prescription for the possession or use of cannabidiol (CBD) as authorized by this act shall be provided exclusively by the UAB [University of Alabama at Birmingham] Department for a debilitating epileptic condition.” Since marijuana is illegal under federal laws, doctors are not allowed to write “prescriptions” for it. The states that have legal medical marijuana allow doctors to “recommend” it.
On May 4, 2016, Gov. Bentley signed HB 61 into law. Known as Leni’s Law, the bill provides an affirmative defense for possession of CBD oil “for specified debilitating conditions that produce seizures.”
On Apr. 16, 2015 Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed HB 1 (Haleigh’s Hope Act) into law, allowing the use of cannabis oil that is contains no more than 5% THC. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, the law did “not address how low THC oil is made, purchased or shipped. The law only creates a procedure to ensure qualified persons will be protected from prosecution for having it in their possession.” On Apr. 17, 2019, Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill that permits in-state production/sale of marijuana oil and allows growing licenses for up to six private companies, effective July 1, 2019.
The Georgia Department of Public Health issues Low THC Oil Registry Cards ($25 fee) to qualifying patients with one of 16 conditions: cancer, ALS, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, mitochondrial disease, Parkinson’s disease, sickle cell disease, Tourette’s syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, when (a) patient is 18 years of age or more, epidermolysis bullosa, Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS, peripheral neuropathy, hospice program patients, intractable pain, and PTSD.
On Apr. 27, 2017, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed HB 1148 into law, allowing the use of cannabidiol that is at least 5% CBD and contains no more than 0.3% THC for treatment-resistant epilepsy.
On Mar. 21, 2018, Gov. Holcomb signed SB 52 into law, which allows distribution and retail sail of “low-THC hemp extract,” defined as a product “(1) derived from Cannabis sativa L. that meets the definition of industrial hemp; (2) that contains not more than 0.3% delta-9-THC (including precursors); and (3) that contains no other controlled substances.”
In 2015, the Idaho legislature passed S1146a, which would have legalized CBD oil with up to 0.3% THC obtained across state lines by parents of children with intractable epilepsy. Governor Otter vetoed the measure and instead signed an Executive Order for an Expanded Access Program (EAP) to provide pharmaceutical grade CBD, Epidiolex, to children with intractable epilepsy to as part of an FDA-approved study.
A 2015 Idaho Attorney General opinion states that in order for a CBD oil to be legal, it must not contain any THC and the oil cannot be derived from one of the five identified parts of the cannabis plant, otherwise it is illegal in Idaho under current law.
On May 30, 2014, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed SF 2360 into law, saying “This bill received tremendous support and truly shows the power of people talking to their legislators and to their governor about important issues to them, to their families and to their children.”
On May 12, 2017, Governor Branstad signed HF 524 into law. According to the Iowa Department of Health Office of Medical Cannabidiol Website (accessed Mar. 15, 2018), “a person may recommend, possess, use, dispense, deliver, transport, or administer cannabidiol if the recommendation, possession, use, dispensing, delivery, transporting, or administering is in accordance with new chapter 124E of the Iowa Code.”
The Office of Medical Cannabidiol issues registration cards and the law “requires medical cannabidiol dispensaries to begin dispensing to patients in Iowa by December 1, 2018.”
On May 14, 2018, Governor Jeff Colyer signed SB 282 into law, which allows the use and sale of CBD that contains no THC.
On May 20, 2019, Governor Laura Kelly signed HB 2244 (“Claire and Lola’s Law”) into law, allowing the use of CBD containing no more than 5% THC to treat debilitating medical conditions “for which the patient is under treatment by a licensed physician.”
On Apr. 10, 2014, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed SB 124. The law excludes from the definition of marijuana the “substance cannabidiol, when transferred, dispensed, or administered pursuant to the written order of a physician practicing at a hospital or associated clinic affiliated with a Kentucky public university having a college or school of medicine.” The law does not address how patients may obtain the CBD.
8. North Carolina
On July 3, 2014, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed HB 1220 into law. The bill allowed universities to conduct clinical trials using CBD oil that was less than 0.3% THC and at least 10% CBD only for the treatment of intractable epilepsy.
On July 16, 2015, Gov. McCrory signed HB 766 , which amended the CBD law.
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), “hemp extract must be composed of less than nine-tenths of one percent (0.9%) tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by weight, at least five percent (5%) cannabidiol (CBD) by weight and may contain no other psychoactive substances.” By law, patients are allowed to use and possess CBD but it remains illegal to cultivate or produce hemp extract in the state. People in possession of the DHHS Caregiver Registration letter are allowed to carry hemp extract outside their homes.
On Apr. 30, 2015, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed HB 2154 known as Katie’s Law, which allows the use of cannabis oil that is no more than 0.3% THC for the treatment of severe forms of epilepsy. Fallin stated at the signing:
“This bill will help get sick children potentially life-changing medicine. By crafting the legislation in a way that allows for tightly controlled medical studies, we can ensure we are researching possible treatments in a responsible and scientific way. The CBD oil we are studying is a non-intoxicating derivative of marijuana. It is not marijuana, and it is not anything that can make you ‘high.’ This law has been narrowly crafted to support highly supervised medical trials for children with debilitating seizures. It is not a first step towards legalizing marijuana, and I will never support the legalization of marijuana in Oklahoma.”
On May 13, 2016, Gov. Fallin signed HB 2835 into law. As of Nov. 1, 2016, the law includes adults and adds “spasticity due to multiple sclerosis or due to paraplegia, intractable nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation with chronic wasting diseases” to the list of approved conditions.
On Apr. 17, 2017, Gov. Fallin signed HB 1559 , amending the law (effective Nov. 1, 2017), to exclude from the definition of marijuana “any federal Food and Drug Administration-approved cannabidiol drug or substance.”
10. South Carolina
On June 2, 2014, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed S 1035 into law. “Julian’s Law” pertains to people who obtain a written certification signed by a physician “stating that the patient has been diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, Dravet Syndrome, also known as ‘severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy’, or any other severe form of epilepsy that is not adequately treated by traditional medical therapies and the physician’s conclusion that the patient might benefit from the medical use of cannabidiol.” Those patients may use CBD oil that is less than 0.9% THC and more than 15% cannabidiol, which is to be provided by the Medical University of South Carolina in a study to determine the effects of CBD on controlling seizures.
On May 16, 2014, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed SB 2531 into law. The bill allows the use of cannabis oil containing cannabidiol (CBD) that has less than 0.9% THC “as part of a clinical research study on the treatment of intractable seizures when supervised by a physician practicing at… a university having a college or school of medicine.” The study is authorized for four years.
On May 5, 2015, Governor Haslam signed SB 280 into law. The bill allows the use of CBD oil that is less than 0.9% THC and that is “obtained legally in the United States and outside of” Tennessee. The bill went into effect immediately.
On June 1, 2015, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed SB 339 which allows the use of cannabis oil that is no more than 0.5% THC and at least 10% CBD for the treatment of intractable epilepsy. The bill requires patients to get approval from two certified specialists.
Governor Abbot stated: “There is currently no cure for intractable epilepsy and many patients have had little to no success with currently approved drugs. However, we have seen promising results from CBD oil testing and with the passage of this legislation, there is now hope for thousands of families who deal with the effects of intractable epilepsy every day.”
Gov. Abbott signed HB 3703 on June 14, 2019, expanding the approved conditions to include medical seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, terminal cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, autism, and ALS.
The law as written requires physicians to “prescribe” CBD, which would break federal law. States with legal programs allow doctors to “recommend” as opposed to prescribe. However, the Texas Compassionate Use Program says that “prescription” is defined as “an entry in the compassionate-use registry” and three dispensing organizations were licensed by Dec. 15, 2017. “On June 10, 2019, Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1325 into law, to allow for the production, manufacture, retail sale, and inspection of industrial hemp crops and products in Texas. This includes products for human consumption that may contain cannabidiol, also known as CBD, as well as certain other parts of the hemp plant… These products may not contain more than 0.3 percent concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).”
Source: Texas Department of State Health Services, “Hemp Program,” dshs.texas.gov (accessed Oct. 3, 2019)
On Apr. 16, 2014, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed AB 726 , known as Lydia’s Law, which states that “any physician may provide an individual with a hard copy of a letter or other official documentation stating that the individual possesses cannabidiol to treat a seizure disorder if the cannabidiol is in a form without a psychoactive effect.” A release from the Governor’s office characterizes the law as “clearing the way for a new treatment for children suffering from seizure disorders, pending FDA approval.”
On Apr. 17, 2017, Gov. Walker signed SB 10 into law, which replaced “seizure disorder” with “medical condition,” broadening the original bill.
On July 1, 2015, HB 32 became law after Gov. Matt Mead neither signed the bill nor vetoed it, allowing the use of hemp extract that contains at least 15% CBD and no more than 0.3% THC for the treatment of intractable epilepsy.
The Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA) stated, “We do not anticipate a licensing program prior to the start of 2019… The main hurdle the program faces is funding… This legislation had no appropriation attached and in order to start the new program, the WDA needs funding to start and implement the program.”