Is CBD Actually Legal in New York?

New York skyline.

The short answer is yes! New York has recently legalized even the recreational use of cannabis in the state, so CBD is certainly safe and has been available in New York for a while now.

The state of New York has been one of the more advanced in the US in terms of cannabis and marijuana legalization. It’s relatively easy to find and buy CBD products in New York, from edibles and vapes to CBD topicals. Still, it’s important to know the parameters of the laws, how to avoid scams, and how to find the right products for your needs. 

Is CBD Legal in New York?

The first thing to know is that thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD is now legal in all US states. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a derivative of the cannabis plant, and so is legal under the portion of the Farm Bill that legalized industrial hemp along with hemp derivatives including CBD.

So, you can buy CBD products in New York, and you can also buy hemp products like CBD from other states online as well. Again, New York state was ahead of the curve on legalized CBD products along with other cannabis products. The state embarked on a medical marijuana pilot program in July of 2014, with the signing of the New York Compassionate Care Act.

Since then, the cannabis products available and legal in New York have expanded significantly, but this was the beginning of CBD availability in New York. One thing to note is that while CBD is legal nationwide, there are two cannabinoids that may be present in cannabis plants.

Despite their legality within New York, cannabis products containing THC are still illegal on the federal level. More on that in a moment. With CBD-only products, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has enacted some regulations around CBD, but there are fewer federal regulations than exist in New York state. Let’s dig into New York state law on cannabis and CBD.

Navigating New York Cannabis Laws

One thing you’ll need to consider when accessing CBD products in New York is what level of care or product variety you need. For some people, it might make sense to get a medical marijuana card in order to access products designed specifically for treating medical conditions.

On the national level, the FDA has only approved CBD for some very rare forms of epilepsy. So it’s illegal to sell CBD products as a retailer with the promise of alleviating medical conditions outside of those few. Medical cannabis, on the other hand, is approved for a few more conditions under New York's medical cannabis laws.

So if you need a doctor's advice on cannabis products or access to CBD products specially formulated for medical use this may be the way to go. Otherwise, New York has a well-developed CBD market, and with recreational marijuana now legal on the state level, it’s a lot easier to navigate THC content.

Previously, only very low amounts of THC were legal in CBD products. Now, New York residents can take advantage of full-spectrum CBD products, and just about anything else. 

What Made CBD Oil Legal?

The most recent and relevant law is the legalization of all parts of the cannabis plant on the state level. This came into effect when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an “adult use” cannabis legalization bill into law in March 2021. This new law made all parts of the cannabis plant (and many derivatives), with any level of THC, legal in New York state.

Still, municipalities can opt-out of allowing cannabis dispensaries within municipal limits. They can’t ban the use of cannabis products, but it may be hard to find retailers if you live in a municipality that opts out. Before this, CBD products became legal in the US under the jurisdiction of the department of agriculture with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.

This bill allowed hemp growers to produce and sell hemp products in the US across state lines, including derivatives like CBD. Today, however, industrial hemp is old news in New York. 

Weed and a magazine.

New York CBD Laws: THC, Legal Products, and More

With that, let’s turn back to the bad news. Hemp products with a higher THC content are still illegal at the federal level. For those unfamiliar, THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol is the other cannabinoid present in cannabis plants. This is what creates the “high” sensation when using marijuana.

Cannabis products that contain THC are, however, legal on the state level in New York. The other main issue to be aware of when it comes to CBD products in New York is that there are some limits on what CBD products can be used or sold for. Remember, the food and drug administration has only approved CBD on a national level to treat epilepsy. In particular, New York's laws regulate CBD as a dietary supplement.

So the same regulations as apply to other supplements will apply to CBD. This affects the inclusion of CBD in food products in particular. Now, CBD can be added to most products, however, just not those with alcohol or tobacco.

CBD Products

With all this talk about legal codes, you might still be wondering: what exactly is CBD? What kind of products are available in New York? To put it simply, CBD is one of two cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant.

Cannabis that’s bred to produce industrial hemp is often called a hemp plant, while cannabis bred to produce flowers with a high THC content are referred to as marijuana plants. It’s really the same plant though! 

It follows that both are capable of producing CBD, and so you will find both hemp extract and CBD products derived from cannabis plants that do contain a higher amount of THC. Understanding the difference can help you find the right products for you.

Tinctures and CBD Oil

For those looking for a healthful boost, tinctures and oils are probably the easiest way to use CBD. The big advantage of these products is that you administer them with a dropper, which makes it easy to get the dosage right.

Tinctures now come in all kinds of flavors, too, so you can drop them right into food or beverages, or use them directly, no matter how you feel about that cannabis taste. The possibilities really are endless these days.

Flower & Vapes

For those who prefer to smoke, or may be replacing a cigarette habit, CBD vapes, or even cannabis flowers bred to be high in CBD, can be a great way to relax without tobacco. One thing to be aware of here is that the laws and regulations in New York are changing pretty rapidly and that depending on the THC content, cannabis flower is subject to different regulations.

Essentially, New York regulates cannabis-only products under the Department of Health’s Cannabinoid Hemp Program. Products containing more THC than the 0.3% allowed at the federal level (thanks to the 2108 Farm Bill), are regulated by the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act which applies to “adult-use cannabis” for recreational marijuana. There’s also a third regulatory system in place for medical marijuana as covered above.

CBD Edibles

This is all made more confusing by the fact that products with a THC content of more than 0.3% are still illegal at the federal level. Similarly, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not regulated cannabis as a dietary supplement yet, so on the national level, CBD is not supposed to be added to food or beverages. Thankfully, New York is ahead of the curve here too.

Unlike the FDA, New York’s Department of Health (DOH) does regulate, tax, and allow CBD edibles, including CBD gummies, beverages, cookies, and more. CBD distributors in New York have to apply for a license from the New York DOH in order to sell such products, and the market has been quick to adapt to the new regulations.

Salves & Lotions

New York also allows CBD topicals like lotions, beauty products, and soaps. If you're a New York resident, you’ll have an easier time accessing a wide variety of CBD products than most. Since New York’s laws are laxer than most other state legal frameworks, you can also safely purchase CBD products from other states online. It’s truly amazing to see the variety and quality of CBD products available across the county, including bath bombs, beauty scrubs, and more.

Where to Buy CBD in New York

Finding the best CBD oil in New York is relatively easy. Since everything is legal and retailers have to register with the Department of Health to sell CBD products, you’re less likely to run into scams and fakes. Plus, CBD retailers are required to meet some labeling standards, as per the DOH regulations.

Still, the Food and Drug Administration has yet to regulate CBD on the federal level, so labeling standards are still imperfect. Reputable retailers usually have a disclaimer explaining this situation. The only difficult part of buying CBD in New York is the presence of so many CBD retailers in the space.

There are lots of products to choose from and it can be difficult to navigate if you’re not familiar with CBD products. For most people, starting with an oil tincture is a good idea. These products are dispensed with a dropper and this makes dosage much easier to control. For a bit more fun, try cookies or one of the many baked goods now available with CBD. 

What to Look for in a Retailer

The first question to ask is what kind of retailer you want. You’ve got a lot to consider. First, keep in mind that Federal law only allows low-THC hemp products. So if you want to make sure you’re in line with federal regulations, look for CBD isolate products. Full-spectrum CBD, on the other hand, is made from cannabis plants that may contain more THC than allowed by federal law.

Still, these products are legal in New York, as are medical, and recreational marijuana. So the other major choice to make is whether to get a medical marijuana card buy from CBD-only retailers, or investigate New York's new “adult-use cannabis” program.

CBD Seller Checklist

With these two big questions out of the way, you can explore what’s out there. When you buy CBD for the first time, the most important thing is to know what you want going in.

  • Watch out for extreme health claims: Right now, the FDA has only approved CBD as a medical treatment for epilepsy. If you see claims of other medicinal benefits, or extreme health claims, especially around weight loss, know that these are illegal and may indicate a low-quality or fake product. Reputable CBD retailers will acknowledge that while many people report great health benefits from using CBD, these claims are not approved by the FDA or other regulatory bodies.
  • Look for third-party lab testing: This is another great sign of a reputable CBD seller. Third-party lab testing ensures the products you buy are what they say they are. This means the products are likely to be of higher quality, and you’ll have a better idea of exactly what each product contains. This can be especially important if you’re new to CBD, or if you want to be careful about the THC content.
  • Read reviews and shop around: Don’t take anyone’s word for the quality of their own products! Make sure to read customer reviews, ask your neighbors, and shop around at various retailers. Not only will this help you be sure you’re getting high-quality CBD, but it can also help you locate different products and flavors that may not be available at all retailers.
  • Do your research online: This is one big advantage of buying online rather than in a physical shop. It’s much easier to get a quick sense of the products offered, find information about third-party lab testing, and access customer reviews from the web. You can also shop more easily by price this way and, after all, most of us are used to buying everything online these days anyway.

Sugar & Kush CBD products.

Buying CBD Online

One more note on this. The CBD industry is still very new and that means that even in a relatively developed market, like New York, high-quality products might be hard to find. Buying online makes it a lot easier to find the right products for you so you can access the everyday benefits of CBD more easily.

New York in particular has a shortage of full-spectrum CBD products as hemp producers within the state only recently were allowed to process cannabis plants into full-spectrum CBD.

Some people find that this form of CBD is much more helpful for them or agreeable to their bodies. So, if you’re considering buying full-spectrum CBD products, buying online from retailers in other states is a good idea.

Final Verdict:

New York is a great place to explore the brilliant explosion of CBD products that have come on the market recently. While federal law may still pose a problem to some degree, New York has very lax state regulations on cannabis and allows recreational marijuana, medical marijuana, and all commercially available forms of CBD.

Just make sure to do your research first, read those customer reviews, and consider looking online if you have trouble finding the perfect CBD product for your lifestyle.

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