How old do you have to be to buy CBD?

by Apoorva Shivankar, M.D

CBD - This soft drug has become the talk of the town over the last few years. Be it for its positive effects, medicinal values, or its huge skyrocketing/growing market popping up at every nook and corner right from the malls, pharmacies, bakeries, even to the beauty salons. You see CBD everywhere.

What is this CBD exactly?

CBD is a short form for cannabidiol, one of the multiple naturally occurring chemicals extracted from the plant Cannabis sativa.


Does the term Cannabis raise the alarm in your head?

Isn’t it an illegal, intoxicating drug? Doesn’t it get you HIGH? If yes, then how is it so easily available in the market?

Confused? Don’t be...

This page here will clarify all the common misconceptions about Cannabis.

Yes, Cannabis is a forbidden drug. But not in all forms? Apart from recreational purposes, it has a medicinal side too. Newer undergoing researches/studies are advocating the therapeutic role of different chemical components present in Cannabis. Lets’ have a look. 

Cannabis Vs. Marijuana Vs. Hemp

The Cannabis plant contains around 100 different chemicals called cannabinoids. All these cannabinoids are known to affect the human body in a variety of ways. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two main active chemicals responsible for the cannabis effect. The remaining array of cannabinoids apart from CBD and THC are clubbed under the term ‘Terpenes’, each one of which has its own therapeutic benefits.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

It is the most active component of the Cannabis plant as well as the chief chemical responsible for the characteristic high, infamous psychiatric and addictive effects of marijuana and the sole component accountable for the illegal status of cannabis.

  • THC is known for its ability to play with human senses. It negatively affects the state of mind and gives a great high to the individual on consumption.
  • Takes the person into a state of euphoria far away from reality.
  • Alters the cognitive state of an individual.
  • Adversely affects the ability to concentrate.
  • Impairs short-term memory.
  • Causes a complete loss of self-control.

Higher and regular doses can lead to many serious consequences such as anxiety, delusions (including ideas of reference), hallucinations, panic, paranoia, and psychosis.

To worsen this, THC is intoxicating and highly addictive too.


  • 2nd major active component of cannabis.
  • Unlike THC, it is neither psychoactive nor intoxicating. 5
  • Possess antipsychotic, anxiolytic, antiepileptic, anti-inflammatory, and many more therapeutic properties. 7
  • Inspite of Cannabis-origin, CBD is free from psychoactive and addictive effects. So, no risk of euphoria, altered senses, or psychosis.
  • Purely medicinal.
  • According to a World Health Organization report, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”

Depending on the concentration of THC, C. Sativa is classified into 2 varieties:

Hemp variety:
  • Has less than 0.3% THC, so no psychoactivity seen.
  • It will ‘never get you high’.
  • More than 0.3% THC, hence shows high levels of psychoactivity.
  • Known for its ability to ‘get you high’. 

0.3% is considered as the cut-off point below which THC is incapable of producing harmful effects.



The lower content of THC makes hemp-derived cannabinoids a safer option of cannabis drugs, and increasing knowledge of the medical benefits of cannabinoids encouraged the re-thinking about the legal status of Cannabis.

So, what’s the final call - THE LEGAL DILEMMA

Is CBD legal? Is it possible to buy CBD anywhere and anytime?

Though research proves hemp-derived CBD is harmless and medically beneficial, its legal status varies from state to state.

This story of the struggle for legal rights holds its roots long back in 1970, when Marijuana, hemp, and their derivatives were banned under ‘The Controlled Substance Act’. Later on, with the insight of potential positive health effects, cultivation of hemp plants and the use of hemp-derived cannabinoids was legalized for research purposes in 2014 under the Agricultural Improvement act/farm bill 2018, President Trump signed.

This turned out to be a game-changer in the CBD industry. In 2018, Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) were made legal on the federal level but are still illegal under some state law, whereas Marijuana-derived CBD products are still illegal on the federal level but are legal under some state laws. Thus, it is essential to check your state’s policies first before buying or using CBD products.

Even though the exact legal status of CBD is controversial, CBD is readily available in almost all states of the United States with certain restrictions pertaining to the corresponding state laws.

Only CBD drug to be approved by FDA

Of all the cannabidiol CBD products, Epidiolex, a CBD oil, is the only FDA-approved drug in the United States and Europe. It is used to treat 2 rare forms of childhood epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and Dravet syndrome, and also to manage seizures associated with tuberous sclerosis complex in patients 1 year of age and older.

How old do you have to be to buy CBD?

To buy or sell CBD products is also subjected to strict state restrictions. Medicinal marijuana can be purchased only on medical prescription, whereas the criteria for purchasing safer hemp-derived CBD vary from state to state. There is no clear law to determine the age requirement cut off to buy CBD. Currently, state law is the deciding body for the age-restrictions for buying CBD.

So, how old do you have to be to buy CBD? Most states allow buy CBD products right after 18 years of age, a few other states prefer to wait till the 21st birthday.

What is Medical Marijuana?

  • Physician-recommended use of cannabis-derived products to treat diseases or improve symptoms.
  • Three active compounds: THC, CBD, and CBN.
  • Most common use: treat chronic pain and seizure, nausea associated with chemotherapy, and anorexia.
  • Side-effects: dry mouthfatiguedizzinessparanoia, and psychoactive effects.

Types of CBD products:

CBD isolate:

  • 99% pure CBD

  • No THC

  • No other cannabinoids

  • Cons: Lacks the benefits of other hemp-derived cannabinoids and terpenes. 

 Broad-spectrum CBD: 

  • Contains CBD

  • Most cannabinoids,

  • No THC

 Full-spectrum CBD: 

  • CBD

  • All of the plant’s cannabinoids

  • THC- in meager amounts, not enough to create the ‘high’ effect.

Unless contraindicated, broad-spectrum or full-spectrum CBD products are preferred as they show superior effects due to ‘THE ENTOURAGE EFFECT’, which hypothesizes that the combination of more than one active agent maximizes the overall effect by complementing, stimulating, and enhancing each other’s action.11

Available forms of CBD products

1. Edibles:

- CBD Oils (most common) - CBD uses other oils as a carrier.

- Tinctures (sublingual)- alcohol acts as a CBD carrier.

- Gummies, truffles, and mints - are the most popular CBD-products.

    2. Topical use:

    Gels and lotions, infused oils, transdermal patches, creams, and lotions - act directly at the site (hair or skin) to treat localized pain.

    3. Inhaled:

    Vaping and smoking - rapid in action as they bypass the first-pass metabolism but are problematic to people with asthma or lung disorders. They themselves may affect the lung functioning on long term use.

    Health benefits of CBD:

    It ensures a happy and relaxed state of mind by relieving anxiety, stress, depression, pain, and promoting night- time quality sleep with increased alertness at day-time. It also exhibits anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsant, anti-psychotic, and neuroprotective properties. CBD does this by modulating the endocannabinoid system pathway, which supervises most of the vital functioning of the human system.

    Clinical uses of CBD:

    1. Epilepsy:  Only condition wherein CBD-drugs are approved by the FDA. CBD also shows high potential for managing neural diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease owing to its positive role in neuroprotection and neurogenesis.4

    Apart from seizure disorders, CBD shows positive results in treating many other conditions too, but more studies are needed to get them approved by the FDA.

    2. Arthritis: a condition characterized by chronic inflammation and pain in joints is effectively managed by the anti-inflammatory and analgesic roles of CBD.

      3. Post-concussion injury: CBD can enhance neuroprotection by its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is also known to enhance neurogenesis and cerebral blood flow, particularly after an injury.4

      4. Sleep disorders: such as insomnia, disturbed sleep, sleep apnea, etc., are benefitted from CBD-products as they alleviate the basic causes (stress, anxiety), etc., affecting sleep without any side effects.

      5. Sportspersons relief: Many sportspersons prefer oral or topical CBD oil for its instant and efficient pain relief action.

      6. Skin conditions: The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD make them an apt cure for acne, aging, psoriasis, etc.

      7. Quit Smoking with CBD: relaxing effects help to reduce cravings.

      8. Female-friendly CBD: they serve as efficient pain relievers and balance the hormones and mood swings during periods.

      Guidelines to buy a CBD product:

      As the stigma around CBD started diminishing, the popularity of CBD-products started rising exponentially, causing tons of pharmaceutical companies to jump on the bandwagon. Selecting the right CBD product from such an exploding market can be really tough. To ease it, here are some TIPS to GRAB the BEST one:  

      • Check for source and type of CBD.
      • Check for the quality of additional ingredients.
      • The CO2 extraction method is preferred over ethanol/ solvent extraction.
      • Testing by a third party is a must - Scan QR code to get CERTIFICATE OF ANALYSIS.
      • Say no to heavy metals, pesticides, artificial preservatives.
      • Non-GMO, gluten-free, and soy-free to avoid allergies.
      • Made in the United States should be preferred as they are subjected to strict agricultural regulations.



      2. Singh, J., & Neary, J. (2020). Neuroprotection Following Concussion: The Potential Role for Cannabidiol. Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences / Journal Canadien Des Sciences Neurologiques, 47(3), 289-300. doi:10.1017/cjn.2020.23

      4. Silvestro S, Schepici G, Bramanti P, Mazzon E. Molecular Targets of Cannabidiol in Experimental Models of Neurological Disease. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 2020 Nov;25(21). DOI: 10.3390/molecules25215186

      5. Maroon J, Bost J. Review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids. Surg Neurol Int. 2018 Apr 26;9:91. doi: 10.4103/sni.sni_45_18. PMID: 29770251; PMCID: PMC5938896.

      7. Lafaye G, Karila L, Blecha L, Benyamina A. Cannabis, cannabinoids, and health. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2017 Sep;19(3):309-316. doi: 10.31887/DCNS.2017.19.3/glafaye. PMID: 29302228; PMCID: PMC5741114.

      11. Russo EB. The Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis: No "Strain," No Gain. Front Plant Sci. 2019 Jan 9;9:1969. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01969. PMID: 30687364; PMCID: PMC6334252.

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