CBD In Washington

2021 Complete Guide

Is CBD in Washington Legal?
WA CBD 2021

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Did you know that marijuana and THC-infused products were legalized long before hemp and hemp CBD became legal in Washington state? And now that hemp and CBD are both legal in the state, officials are saying that it’s NOT legal to add CBD to food and beverages — that is unless you’re a licensed marijuana dispensary. Crazy, right? In this post, we’ll go over the current 2021 hemp and CBD laws in Washington. We’ll also talk about what CBD products are legal in Washington and go over laws related to growing hemp and selling CBD products in the state.

Before we get into the details of Washington hemp and CBD laws, let’s clarify exactly what we’re talking about.

Hemp is defined as any cannabis strains that produce under 0.3 percent THC. Anything above that level and a strain is considered to be marijuana. 

Compounds CBD acid and THC acid are found in raw cannabis. Both are non-intoxicating. THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) is the buzz-inducing compound that’s produced when marijuana is smoked, vaped, or cooked

CBD is similar to THC in that they are both part of a family of compounds known as cannabinoids. And both CBD and THC provide medicinal benefits. 

With that out of the way, let’s take a brief look at how Washington CBD laws got where they are today.

A brief history of cannabis laws in Washington

Washington was one of the many US states that banned all cannabis cultivation in the 1920s. Possession became punishable by one to 10 years in prison. It took almost half a century for the state to start coming to its senses. In 1971, the penalties for the possession of 40 grams or less of cannabis became a misdemeanor. 

Almost 30 years later, in 1998, the state passed a measure that permitted physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients with terminal or debilitating illnesses including: “chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting in cancer patients; AIDS wasting syndrome; severe muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis and other spasticity disorders; epilepsy; acute or chronic glaucoma; and some forms of intractable pain.” Qualified patients were permitted to possess up to twenty-four ounces of usable marijuana and grow up to 15 plants at home.

In November 2012, the state decriminalized marijuana making legal the possession of up to 1 ounce. However, the cultivation and sale of marijuana remained illegal until the state could develop a system of licensing for growers and dispensaries. 

Finally, in November 2013, the state began accepting license applications for marijuana growers, processors, and dispensaries. Washington’s first recreational marijuana dispensaries opened their doors to the public on July 8, 2014.

All the while, hemp, which is non-intoxicating, remained illegal outside of licensed marijuana grow operations and dispensaries.

The history of Washington hemp and CBD laws

Although Washington state was an early pioneer in the legalization of marijuana, it was late to the game when it comes to hemp. In 2014, the federal government passed a farm bill that authorized states to implement limited hemp pilot programs to study the cultivation and uses for hemp. 

It took lawmakers in Washington state a couple of years to take advantage of the measure, but in 2016, the state created its first Industrial Hemp Research Pilot (IHRP). It wasn’t until 2017 that the state’s first hemp crop was planted at Moses Lake. That year, only 180 acres of hemp were planted statewide. And in 2018 Washington’s entire hemp harvest was only 141 acres and was grown only by the Confederated Colville tribes in northeast Washington.

Everything changed at the end of 2019 when Washington state made the cultivation of hemp a fully legal agricultural activity. 

Then in mid-2019 the state, following the lead of the US Food and Drug Administration, Washington’s Department of Agriculture officially banned the use of CBD in foods and beverages — again, outside of state-licensed marijuana retail stores. However, officials stated hinted the department did not intend to start handing out fines for offenders — at least not right away.

That’s the background story. Now let’s get into some details on the most frequently asked questions related to Washington hemp and CBD laws.

Washington State hemp and CBD FAQ | 2021

Is hemp CBD oil legal in Washington State?

Yes! CBD oil derived from hemp can now be purchased legally by all Washington residents.  However, there are some limitations which we will cover below. 

Although shops in Washing have been selling hemp-derived CBD products for years, technically, up until the lastest hemp laws were signed into effect in late 2019, CBD products were only legally available at licensed marijuana dispensaries in the state.   

Can doctors prescribe CBD oil to their patients in Washington?

No. Doctors in Washington are not permitted to prescribe CBD to their patients. 

The only exception to this rule is a drug known as Epidiolex. Epidiolex is essentially purified CBD. The drug was approved by the FDA for the treatment of some rare and intractable forms of childhood epilepsy. 

However, although they are not able to prescribe CBD oil to their patients, they are permitted to recommend it to patients that they feel can benefit. 

Furthermore, if your doctor feels that your medical condition can benefit from the use of medical marijuana you might qualify for a Washington medical marijuana card. 

That being said, marijuana is legal for all adults in the state of Washington but can be purchased only at any licensed marijuana dispensary. Residents are no longer required to present a medical marijuana card. 

So, as of the time of writing, no prescription is required to purchase products containing THC or CBD. However, if you want edible products that contain CBD, or you want THC, you have to be 21 or older because you’ll need to buy them at a state-licensed marijuana dispensary. Technically. But many shops that sell CBD products still sell edibles.

What medical conditions are being treated with CBD in Washington?

Both CBD and THC are being used to treat a wide array of medical conditions. The fact that CBD is being used to treat scores of conditions might seem tough to swallow, but CBD acts on the human body in a number of ways. Not only does CBD interact with the human endocannabinoid system or ECS which is responsible for maintaining balance in a range of bodily functions, CBD also protects brain and nerve cells from age-associated damage, provides antioxidant, antibiotic, antifungal, and antiviral protection, and much more.

Here are some of the scores of medical conditions that are being treated with CBD in Washington:

Can I legally buy hemp CBD oil online in Washington?

Yes. Anyone can purchase CBD products online in Washington. That also includes edibles and beverages. Although, technically, it’s not legal to make or sell these products in Washington, it’s not illegal to possess them. 

Aside from being able to have your CBD delivered right to your doorstep, a big advantage of buying online is that you’ll find a much wider selection of CBD products than you are likely to find in a local shop. However, along with the good comes the bad. Be sure to do your homework and search for a brand that you can trust.

Which hemp CBD products are legal in Washington?

Currently, the only CBD products that are not legal in Washington are CBD-infused foods and beverages. This stems from the US Food and Drug Administration’s position that because CBD is a drug (Epidiolex) its use in food and drinks, even or pets and farm animals, is prohibited. 

Interestingly, however, even though shops are technically prohibited from selling these products, licensed marijuana dispensaries are permitted to sell edibles and beverages with added hemp CBD. 

Why lawmakers feel it’s okay to defy the US Drug Enforcement Agency and Department of Justice and sell marijuana products including CBD-infused edibles, but it’s not okay to defy the FDA and sell hemp CBD edibles outside of dispensaries is pretty mind-boggling. But this is where things stand as of the start of 2021. It might change in the future.

Where can I legally buy hemp CBD oil in Washington?

The availability of hemp-derived CBD products has exploded since the state relaxed hemp and CBD laws. Once only the domain of smoke and vape shops, CBD products can now be found in convenience stores, health food stores, mall carts, and even at the major national drug stores and grocery chains. However, some of the large chains only offer topical products such as CBD-infused skin creams, balms, and ointments. 

Although they are technically prohibited, CBD edibles and drinks can also be found at some shops around the state especially in the larger cities in Washington such as Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, and Bellevue.

Can I legally grow hemp in Washington?

There are two ways that Washington residents can legally grow hemp. The first is if you’re a card-holding medical marijuana patient you are permitted to grow up to 15 cannabis plants at home with a physician’s recommendation. It doesn’t matter if it’s hemp or marijuana. The maximum legal yield is 8 ounces. Cardholders also have the option of joining cooperatives and growing cannabis with up to four other patients, as well as to buy seeds, seedlings, and clones. 

If you’re not a cardholder, but you have a doctor’s recommendation you’re permitted to grow up to 4 plants and possess up to 6 ounces. And you cannot join a collaborative. Short of those two options, you’re not permitted to grow your own hemp or marijuana at home.

The second option for growing hemp outside of the medical marijuana program is to be licensed by the state Department of Agriculture to operate a hemp farm. We have provided some links to additional resources related to growing hemp in Washington at the end of this article.

Is it legal to sell hemp CBD oil in Washington?

Yes. No special permits are required to sell CBD in Washington. Unless you’re selling it privately to friends or at the local flea market, you are strongly advised to bone up on the state’s laws pertaining to hemp CBD and keep abreast of any changes to those laws in the future.

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