California’s cannabis laws
California became the first state to allow medicinal cannabis use when voters passed the Compassionate Use Act in 1996. Today, cannabis is legal in California for both medicinal and adult (recreational) use.
The cannabis industry is strictly regulated to make sure:
- Businesses operate safely
- Products are contaminant-free and labeled to inform purchasers
- Cannabis is kept away from children
Statutes, regulations and ordinances are all types of laws that work together to set rules for businesses and consumers.
What are statutes, regulations and ordinances?
- Statutes are laws written and passed by the state legislature, and signed into law by the Governor. They apply to the whole state and create basic rules that apply to everyone in the state.
- Regulations are rules created by a state agency that interpret the statute and make it more specific. Like statutes, regulations also apply to the whole state. The Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) creates regulations that apply to cannabis businesses.
- Ordinances are rules created by cities and counties to set even more specific rules for the local community. They set the time, place and manner a business can operate or a resident can take certain actions. An ordinance only applies in the city or county that created it. Ordinances can be more specific than statutes or regulations, but they cannot work against them. Check with your city and county to find out if they have passed any ordinances for cannabis.
The main statute for cannabis businesses is in the Business and Professions Code. It is called the Medicinal and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA). MAUCRSA sets up a basic framework for licensing, oversight and enforcement related to cannabis businesses.
In addition to cannabis-specific laws, cannabis businesses also have to follow the same rules that other businesses in California must follow. For example, there are rules in the statutes about waste disposal, protecting the environment, vehicle registration and paying taxes.
There are also statutes that set rules for people using cannabis in California. The Health and Safety Code has a section on cannabis with:
- Rules to prevent people under age 21 from getting cannabis
- Limits on how much cannabis a person can carry at a time
- Requirements for medical cannabis
If you run, work for or want to start a cannabis business, it’s important that you understand DCC’s regulations.
We have resources to help you understand the requirements:
DCC makes regulations for cannabis businesses. These regulations specify:
- What you must submit when applying for a license
- Rules for running a cannabis business
- What can and cannot be made into a cannabis product, and what ingredients can and cannot be used
- Packaging requirements to prevent contamination and inform consumers about what’s inside
- The testing that each product must pass before it can be sold
- Enforcement actions that may be taken if a business is not following the rules
Some cities and counties in California have ordinances for equity programs to help people negatively affected by the War on Drugs and create a more inclusive marketplace. Each ordinance supports equity applicants in different ways, such as:
- Faster application processes
- Assistance during the licensing process
- Help with operating your business
- Direct financial support
Equity ordinances approved by local jurisdictions
- County of Humboldt – Ordinance No. 2623
- City of Coachella – Resolution No. 2019-15
- City of Rio Dell – Ordinance No. 375-2019
- City of Long Beach – Ordinance No. ORD-18-0015
- City of Los Angeles – City of Los Angeles Municipal Code, Ch. 10, Art. 4, Sec. 104.20
- City of Oakland – Ordinance No. 13504
- City of Sacramento – Resolution No. 2018-0323
- City and County of San Francisco – City and County of San Francisco Police Code, Art. 16, Sec. 1604
- City of San Jose – Ordinance No. 30234
Contact your city or county office to learn more about their equity program.
Where to Buy CBD Oil in California? Hemp Oil Laws & Legality (2022)
The short answer is yes. It’s perfectly legal to buy CBD oil sourced from hemp and marijuana in California.
However, things get a little bit murky when it comes to CBD-infused foods and beverages.
This guide helps you understand the CBD laws in California on both a state and federal level.
We’ll also teach you tips to follow when buying legal CBD and where you can buy premium-grade CBD products.
Where to Buy CBD in California?
CBD is readily available online and in-store.
If you’re after more perks, it’s better to buy CBD online. There’s a much wider variety of CBD products and brands available online than at your local dispensary. You can also find plenty of bonuses and deals available when you shop online.
Be careful when buying online, especially since CBD’s popularity also caused an increase in substandard CBD products.
What to look for when shopping online:
1. Look for the Product’s COA
The CBD oil’s certificate of analysis or COA is proof that the manufacturer cares for its consumers and follows the rules and regulations set by federal and state laws.
The laboratory report shows you not only the oil’s potency but also its safety and purity.
Avoid CBD products without COAs. Products not tested by a reputable third party might contain contaminants and may not be safe for consumption.
2. Avoid Brands That Make Too-Good-to-Be-True Claims
Avoid CBD brands that market themselves as the panacea for all types of diseases and medical problems.
Similarly, avoid brands, too, that sell very cheap CBD products.
Not only are these signs of unscrupulous manufacturers, but these are red flags that they’re only after your money.
CBD helps relieve many symptoms, but it’s not a magic pill that cures all.
More importantly, producing premium-quality CBD products takes a lot of money — from cultivation to transportation of the finished products. Brands that sell cheap CBD products are, more often than not, employing substandard practices and processes.
3. Read Reviews
To really get to know a CBD oil and its manufacturer, you have to read reviews.
Reviews made by real consumers are found not only on the manufacturer’s website but on social media sites, forums, and prominent cannabis blogs as well.
Stay away from CBD brands and products that earned many negative reviews.
Royal CBD – Full Spectrum
- Rated #1 for overall
- Highest quality hemp oil on our list
- 100% organic, free of pesticides, and artificial ingredients
- Established brand with 24/7 customer support
- 30-day 100% money-back guarantee
- Sourced from US-grown organic hemp
- Contains full-spectrum CBD
- Up to 33 mg CBD/mL
- Great potency range for beginners
- Third-party tested for potency and purity
- Great honey flavor
What Type of CBD is Right for You?
You’ll encounter three types of CBD when buying CBD oil in California. You have pure CBD, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum CBD oils.
They’re all similar in that they contain high CBD levels.
What makes them vastly different from each other is their cannabinoid and terpene content.
Pure CBD oil contains only CBD. It contains no traces of other cannabinoids and terpenes.
Broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD oils both contain cannabinoids and terpenes. However, broad-spectrum CBD oil is THC-free, while full-spectrum CBD oil has traces of CBD.
Of the three CBD varieties, we recommend full-spectrum CBD oils. The presence of THC amplifies the product’s entourage effect, with all cannabinoids and terpenes working together in making you feel better.
Recommended and Trusted CBD Retailers in California
We listed for you some of the best retailers in California based on their high ratings and number of reviews.
- Wonderland Marijuana Dispensary
- MedMen Los Angeles – Downtown Marijuana Dispensary
- URBN Leaf San Diego Dispensary
- Mankind Dispensary
- URBN Leaf Dispensary San Ysidro
- Airfield Supply Co
- Elemental Wellness Center
- MediThrive Cannabis Dispensary
- Barbary Coast Cannabis Dispensary
- Bloom Room
- Tiny Weeds
- Cloud Legends 420
- Fresno Hemp Co LLC
Is CBD Oil Legal in California?
Both hemp and marijuana produce CBD, and in California, both of these CBD sources are legal.
California is one of the most progressive states when it comes to marijuana. In 1996, the state voters approved Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act. This gave patients diagnosed with debilitating health conditions access to marijuana for medical use.
A few years later, Senate Bill 420 was signed into law, establishing the state’s current medical card system. This gave registered patients protection when buying, possessing, and using medical marijuana.
While these gave safe access to medical marijuana, residents with minor health issues are left out. The only way they can obtain medical marijuana is by joining the state’s program and getting a medical card or doctor’s recommendation.
The 2018 Farm Bill finally gave Californians legal access to hemp-derived CBD products. On a federal level, this bill allowed the cultivation and use of industrial hemp and all its parts, provided that hemp was produced in compliance with federal laws and contains no more than 0.3% THC level.
California then aligned its laws with the federal government and allowed its residents access to CBD.
However, in compliance with federal laws, California also currently prohibits the use of hemp-derived CBD in foods and beverages. Technically, this means that the state prohibits edibles containing CBD sourced from industrial hemp.
Soon after the 2018 Farm Bill, the state introduced AB 228 in 2019, but the attempt to pass the bill was delayed partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Had the bill pushed through, this would have legalized the use of hemp-derived CBD in foods, beverages, and even cosmetics.
Hemp-derived CBD edibles may be illegal in the state, but this didn’t stop retailers and cannabis shops from selling the product. Moreover, the state also isn’t that strict in enforcing the ban.
Edibles containing marijuana-derived CBD are allowed under state law and can be used for medical and recreational purposes. The state legalized recreational marijuana in 2016 for adults over 21 years of age when voters approved Proposition 64.
Under federal law, marijuana and all its forms are illegal and considered a controlled substance. This includes CBD extracted from marijuana.
Do You Need a Prescription to Buy CBD Oil in California?
No. Prescriptions, recommendations, or doctor’s letters aren’t needed when you buy hemp-derived CBD oil in California.
You can also buy marijuana-derived CBD oil even without a doctor’s prescription or recommendation. The state’s recreational marijuana laws allow you to buy marijuana if you’re of legal age.
Do You Need a Medical Card to Buy CBD Oil in California?
No. You also don’t need to obtain a medical card to buy hemp-derived CBD oil in California. Just see to it that it’s from industrial hemp and has no more than 0.3% THC.
You also won’t need a medical card to buy marijuana-derived CBD oil. Again, the state’s recreational marijuana laws give you access to buy one.
However, you’ll benefit more if you’re a registered patient with a valid medical card. Compared to recreational users and non-registered patients, cardholders are given access to legally buy, possess, use, and grow more marijuana for medicinal purposes. The card also offers you protection from the law.
Additionally, being a medical marijuana cardholder also gives you sales and use tax exemptions, although you still have to pay for excise tax.
Is CBD Legal in California for Minors?
The 2018 Farm Bill gives people of all ages access to hemp-derived products. However, for use with a minor, we recommend speaking with his pediatrician or a medical cannabis doctor first.
As for marijuana-derived CBD oil, minors under the age of 18 must have parental approval and a doctor’s recommendation to get a medical card. Once verified, the primary caregiver manages the use of medical cannabis on the minor.
Is Traveling with CBD Legal in California?
You won’t encounter legal problems when traveling with hemp-derived CBD oil within the state or when crossing state borders.
Traveling with marijuana-derived CBD oil within California should also be fine, especially if you have a medical card.
Don’t cross state borders with any type of marijuana-derived products or CBD products containing higher than 0.3% THC.
Marijuana remains federally illegal. Industrial hemp containing more than 0.3% THC is considered marijuana and is, therefore, prohibited.
Is Marijuana Legal in California?
Yes. Medical and recreational marijuana is legal in California.
Medical marijuana was legalized in 1996, while recreational marijuana was legalized in 2016.
Patients (may they be registered or not) and adults over the age of 21 have safe access to legal marijuana. All you need is to present your medical marijuana card or a valid ID when buying weed in California.
As mentioned earlier, registering in the state’s medical marijuana program and availing of a medical card gives you several advantages.
How Much Marijuana Can I Buy or Grow?
Registered medical marijuana patients are allowed to possess up to eight ounces of usable marijuana. However, if this limit isn’t enough for his medical condition, then he’s allowed to possess the marijuana amount consistent with his medical needs — provided he has a doctor’s recommendation, of course.
The state also allows cardholders to grow the number of marijuana plants they need for their medical problems. Local ordinances have the right to ban or limit the number of plants for medical cultivation, so always check your local laws before growing marijuana plants.
As for adult use, residents of legal age can buy and possess up to one ounce or 28.5 grams of usable marijuana and up to 8 grams of marijuana concentrates. They’re also allowed to grow up to six plants for personal use.
Is Smoking Marijuana Legal in California?
Smoking marijuana for medical and recreational use is legal in California.
Smoking in public is prohibited and considered a petty offense with a hefty fine of $100 to $250.
What are the Types of Marijuana Allowed in California?
The marijuana forms allowed in California include smokable flowers, vapes, cannabis-infused edibles, concentrates, oils, tinctures, and topicals.
Of note, hemp-derived CBD edibles and topicals are technically still illegal, but the state isn’t that strict in enforcing the rules.
When Did California Legalize Marijuana?
California legalized medical marijuana in 1996 and recreational marijuana in 2016, but its sales only began in 2018.
There is high hope that AB 228 will finally push through in 2021. If it does, it will fully legalize CBD and allow it in foods and beverages.
Final Thoughts — Buying CBD in California
It’s legal to buy CBD oil in California, may it be extracted from hemp or marijuana.
Residents can buy hemp-derived CBD oil even without a doctor’s recommendation or a medical card. When buying legal CBD oil in California though, make sure that it’s hemp-derived with no more than 0.3% THC.
As for marijuana-derived CBD oil, it’s accessible to both registered and non-registered patients. For registered patients, they have to present their medical card, and for non-registered patients, they’ll need a doctor’s recommendation or a valid ID.
Choose your CBD oil wisely, and make sure the product comes with a laboratory report to show its quality. Make sure to read reviews as well and only buy from trusted brands.
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
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CBD Oil in California: Current Laws (2020)
Disclaimer: All of the information in this guide is based on our own research into the topic. We have done our best to use accurate and up-to-date information from respected and credible resources. However, we cannot claim to be a legal authority, and none of the following information should be taken as legal advice.
A Guide to CBD in California
- Purchasing and possessing CBD is legal in California.
- Retailers do not need any special licensing to sell CBD products.
- Infusing food and beverages with CBD is illegal in California.
- There are currently few if any regulations for farmers, processors and retailers of CBD.
- Consumer protections are minimal when buying CBD from a brick-and-mortar shop.
Is CBD Oil Legal in California?
People all over the country are interested in trying CBD, for an array of reasons, and you can buy CBD almost anywhere despite CBD’s legal gray area. Most people don’t want to break the law, however, and they may be hesitant to give CBD a try because legislation in their state is confusing.
With its liberal marijuana laws, you would think that California would be one of the few states where people feel comfortable diving right in; however, the state’s focus on the marijuana industry has led to some of the murkiest laws in the country regarding hemp-derived CBD.
In order to understand why, let’s do a quick review of what has been happening in federal legislation over the last few years. The 2018 Farm Bill made the growing and processing of industrial hemp legal, which took CBD off the Drug Enforcement Agency’s controlled-substance list.
This gave states the option to work with the USDA to devise their own hemp-growing programs. Authority over the regulation of processed CBD went to the Food and Drug Administration.
The CBD industry immediately blew up, and consumers started buying products faster than supply could keep pace. New companies cropped up, taking advantage of an unregulated new market.
The FDA, unprepared to adopt clear guidelines, stated that CBD was not approved for use as a supplement, food additive or curative, but the agency has only sporadically enforced these rules. It is essentially up to the states to ensure consumer protections, creating confusion among consumers and law-enforcement personnel alike.
Are There CBD Laws in California?
Though it may seem counterintuitive, the prosperous marijuana industry is causing California legislators to lean on federal guidelines in their regulatory response to an exploding hemp-derived CBD market. One major concern is differentiating which products are marijuana-derived and which are hemp-derived.
Another issue is that those in the marijuana industry are fighting for hemp to be subject to the same stringent safety guidelines as marijuana. This ensures that competition is fair and consumers are protected.
A couple of bills have been introduced that would allow for more leniency when it comes to selling CBD in California, but none have provided satisfactory protections for consumers.
As of right now, retailers selling CBD are completely unregulated, except with regard to adding CBD to food and beverages, which has been outlawed. Adults can legally buy CBD in any form.
CBD in California: Understanding Different Types of CBD Products
If you want your CBD to take effect quickly, CBD oil is the best option. Penguin CBD’s oil is pure CBD suspended in MCT oil for maximum absorption. It comes in multiple flavors, and in three concentrations so you have complete control over just how much you get in each dropperful.
Hold it under your tongue so it takes effect in as little as 20 minutes, or add it to your food or beverages for a boost in your day.
Our CBD oil is made with the best Oregon grown hemp. Comes in mint, citrus, natural, strawberry and cookies & cream flavors.
People love Penguin’s CBD capsules because 10mg is the perfect dose to control exactly how much CBD you get. You can take one capsule at any point in your day, or you can take a few for a little something more.
They are convenient for travel, and you don’t have to worry about messes and spills when you toss a bottle into your bag. Be sure to keep an emergency supply with you wherever you are.
Convenient, discreet and travel-ready, our CBD capsules can be taken anywhere with ease. Each capsule contains 10mg of our broad-spectrum hemp extract suspended in MCT oil.
Want to add some fun to your chill? Try CBD gummies for a treat that will wake up your taste buds. Customers love Penguin CBD’s tart and sweet CBD gummies because they are bright and cheerful and have just the right texture.
Coated in sweet-and-sour sugar, packed with 10mg of CBD each and safe whether you’re eating just one or a handful, these are great for an afternoon or bedtime snack to satisfy your craving.
Made with the purest CBD isolate, our CBD gummy worms are a treat for your taste buds. Every container contains 30 individual worms, with each one packing 10mg of CBD.
Penguin’s CBD cream smoothes and softens your skin while delivering a dose of our broad-spectrum CBD. Just apply a dab wherever you need it, and our CBD cream will lock in moisture and help boost your glow from the inside out.
Our CBD cream is a luxurious cream that’s silky smooth and cooling upon contact. Its terpene rich formula is designed to be absorbed quickly.
Industrial Hemp in California
The laws surrounding industrial hemp in California are muddled and perplexing. There are no state regulations regarding commercial hemp farming outside of the general commercial agricultural statutes set forth by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Growers of industrial hemp are required to register with and report to their counties, which set forth growing guidelines and enforcement.
You can probably see where the problems lie. With no centralized regulatory and enforcement body, the confusion is rampant. The state is currently working out a plan with the USDA to run its own Hemp Pilot Program, and therefore the USDA is also uninvolved in any sort of oversight.
The situation leaves the door wide open for CBD companies to disregard safe growing practices. Many are using hemp that has been grown in contaminated soil, irrigated with polluted water and sprayed with toxic chemicals to make their CBD.
There are few safeguards in place to protect consumers or the environment, and enforcing them is up to individual counties that may not have the resources necessary to keep tabs on growers.
Penguin CBD takes great care to ensure that the hemp used to make all of our CBD products is grown organically with our partner farms in Oregon.
The climate there is ideal for producing hemp with all the right terpenes to keep you feeling your best, ready to handle whatever comes your way. The farms where we source our hemp are regularly inspected, and the hemp is constantly tested so we can be confident that every batch meets our high standards.
Can I Purchase CBD Online in California?
Not only can you purchase CBD online in California; you probably should. While there may be reputable companies operating in the state—and even some super-luxury brands—there are currently no protections in place for consumers of CBD in California.
You can buy CBD just about anywhere, and retailers do not need a special license. When you aren’t able to do appropriate research, you should note that packaging may be mislabeled and products could be dangerous.
Shopping online might seem like a scary prospect because you cannot physically see the product you are investing in, but it is actually much safer because of the amount of information you have access to.
Always insist on seeing third-party lab results for your product before making a purchase (Penguin CBD’s lab results accompany each product on our website). When you shop online, you can even take it a step further and research the lab itself.
Furthermore, you can look for customer reviews to see what others are saying about the brand you are considering.
CBD Oil in California
In addition to the problems with hemp farming in California, the total lack of oversight with CBD companies makes it easy to take advantage of consumer enthusiasm about a product meant to help people feel good.
Companies often mislabel products with inaccurate information about CBD or THC concentrations, which can lead to consumers buying an ineffective product or inadvertently failing a drug screening.
Even when companies are not purposefully deceitful in their product advertising, negligence can put consumers at risk. Hemp is a bioaccumulator, which means it absorbs everything in its environment.
Each batch of CBD should be tested by a third-party lab to ensure that it does not have any toxic chemical residue or heavy metals. Your product should have a barcode or a QR box that you can scan for results, or the information should be easy to find on the company’s website.
When determining which companies make the best CBD for your needs, it is imperative to check the third-party lab results for your products.
It also helps to see what others are saying about the company. Penguin CBD’s customers love our products, and we are the top pick for publications like Merry Jane, The Daily Beast, Venture Beat and The Observer. From our CBD oil to our CBD gummies, our products are made with your satisfaction in mind.
We start with organic hemp cultivated right here in the United States. Then we use our state-of-the-art CO2 extraction process, which never requires any additives or solvents and gives us total control over our results every time.
Before our products get shipped to you, we send each batch off to our third-party independent labs to confirm the purity and potency. That way, we know that you are getting the best of the best every single time you order from us.
Final Thoughts About CBD in California
California’s CBD laws are murky and confusing, but one thing is certain: It is perfectly legal to purchase and possess CBD in the state.
The problem is with consumer protections. While Health Department agents are cracking down on retailers and cafés selling food and beverages infused with CBD, there are no licensing or reporting requirements for selling other CBD products.
In addition to the lack of regulation with sales of CBD, there is no centralized effort to oversee or enforce any guidelines regarding the cultivation of hemp in California. This is a complicated issue due to the booming marijuana industry, in addition to the fact that hemp can be grown for purposes outside of CBD. This makes it difficult for the state to pass legislation that protects consumers on any level, from farm to sale.
When you buy products from Penguin CBD, you can be sure that everything we do is transparent and easy to navigate. Customers give us rave reviews because our products are effective and trustworthy every time. Our hemp is organically grown and lab results are easy to find, and we make your happiness with our products our top priority.