CBD in Alabama
2019 Complete Guide
Welcome to the Alabama Guide To Legal CBD Oil, updated for 2019.
Alabama CBD Laws 
It’s 2019. Is CBD legal in Alabama yet? The state of Alabama is the perfect poster child for dysfunction in government when it comes to the cannabis compound affectionately known as CBD. While state lawmakers are doing the do-si-do — for the past five years — trying to decide what to do about CBD, Alabamians have been quietly enjoying CBD oil and other CBD-infused products purchase via websites and local boutique shops. But is it really legal That depends.
In order to fully understand what it is that’s happening here you first have to understand the various types of cannabis, cannabis oils, and cannabinoids. After that, we can break down the legalities of each.
Hemp vs Marijuana
The Two Types of CBD Oil
Starting from the beginning, the cannabis plant has been growing happily on this planet, minding its own business until humans came along. Humans have been using cannabis as a food source since before we were even technically human. And we’ve been cultivating and domesticating cannabis for its seeds, fibers, and essential oils (resins) since the dawn of civilization.
It hasn’t been until recent years that humans recognized the mechanism by which cannabis imbues its medicinal effects. The magic ingredients are two families of compounds known as cannabinoids and terpenes.
Interestingly, terpenes, the oily compounds that are responsible for the distinctive aromas of marijuana are actually far stronger molecule for molecule than cannabinoids. While cannabinoids are measured in percent of weight — some strains producing as high as 25 percent or higher levels — terpenes are measured in parts per million. There are scores of types of both cannabinoids and terpenes, and each has its own set of effects and medicinal benefits.
Since cannabinoids were identified in the early 70s as the active compound responsible for the psychological effects, we’ve been breeding cannabis to provide specific cannabinoids and terpenes which produce specific sets effects. The overall effect of the ratio of cannabinoids and terpenes found in a strain is known as the entourage effect, and it’s why it matters which strain you choose to use.
The two most common cannabinoids found in cannabis are delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, aka THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD. THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the high produced by smoking or otherwise consuming marijuana.
Marijuana is just one type of cannabis crop. If you breed strains of cannabis that are high in THC, cultivate only female plants, and prevent them from going to seed, you produce a plant with big, sticky, resinous buds. This is marijuana. Different strains of marijuana produce different levels of various cannabinoids including THC, CBD, and also some less common cannabinoids such as CBG and CBN.
On the other hand, if you produce a crop that is essentially devoid of THC, but still rich in cannabinoids such as CBD, and cultivate the plant via the same methods, you’re technically growing what’s known as hemp, or more accurately, in this case, phytocannabinoid-rich hemp, or PCR hemp. There’s also a class of strains of hemp which are not used for medicine but rather for seeds and fibers known as industrial hemp.
Hemp and Marijuana Laws in the US
The one thing that all strains of hemp have in common is that, by law, they must produce less than 0.3% THC, which is a level low enough that you could smoke some really dank hemp flowers until the cows come home and not catch a buzz. You’d be super chill, but not stoned.
Up until December of 2018 federal law did not distinguish between marijuana and hemp — both were considered Schedule I controlled substances. To be listed as a Schedule I substance it must be deemed by the powers at be to have zero medicinal value and a high potential for abuse.
As most rational humans know, neither of these conditions is true. Cannabis is not only a powerful medicine, but it’s also one of the safest medicines in existence. It’s non-addictive (although it can be habit forming), and as far as anyone knows, has never caused a fatal overdose.
Marijuana and hemp were made illegal far back in the 1930s. Its intoxicating effects were used as political leverage to eliminate the crop as competition for lumber and cotton and to demonize Mexican immigrants. Then in the early 1970s the federal government made the cultivation, possession, and use of cannabis in any form a felony. Then later in the century, the feds launch The War On Drugs — an extremely costly proposition which has ruined innumerable lives and wasted billions of dollars and incalculable man hours.
As we all know, none of these legislative efforts to prohibit cannabis have stopped people from growing, selling, buying, and consuming marijuana. Nor have they prevented CBD from becoming one of the fastest growing health supplements in the history of mankind.
At the end of 2018, the federal government signed off on a federal farm appropriations bill which included language that divorced hemp from federal marijuana laws and removed it from the DEA’s list of controlled substances. That’s a great first step in implementing serious federal cannabis policy reforms.
By the time the feds got around to legalizing hemp, some forty-plus U.S. states had decided not to wait around and made marijuana legal in one form or another. Some legalized recreational use of marijuana, others legalized only the medicinal use of marijuana for particular conditions, and others legalized only low-THC, high-CBD strains, and the oils derived therefrom.
Medical Cannabis Laws in Alabama
Back in 2014 state lawmakers passed Carly’s Law, authorizing a UAB study on the use of CBD oil, to treat intractable cases of epilepsy. However, it did not provide for any provisions for the legal cultivation of hemp and the production of CBD oil, and patients were required to go through the UAB study to take part in the program. After all the time and money and hot air wasted by lawmakers on these feckless measures, less than 100 patients have ever benefited from Carly’s law.
Then, in 2016, Alabama passed Leni’s Law, allowing patients who suffer from other debilitating medical conditions to use CBD oil. Leni’s Law expanded the legal protections and removed the requirement that patients must be enrolled in the UAB study program. Under this law, patients are eligible for legal protections if they are diagnosed with any debilitating condition. But Alabamans still had no legal way to acquire the medicine.
However, also, in 2016, Alabama lawmakers passed The Alabama Industrial Hemp Research Act, which changed the definition of marijuana in the state’s controlled substances law to exclude hemp effectively making Leni’s law unnecessary.
In October of 2018, the Alabama Department of Public Health adopted a rule allowing for the medical use of an FDA-approved drug that contains CBD called Epidiolex for the treatment of certain cases of epilepsy.
One month later, as a response to the growing popularity of CBD oil and CBD-infused products, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall published guidelines stating that it was illegal to sell or possess CBD outside of the state’s medical cannabis program and that those activities fall under the state’s marijuana laws. Strange considering hemp CBD is not made from marijuana.
Less than one month later, because of the hemp provision in the farm bill, Marshall released another public notice stating that CBD derived from hemp and containing no more than 0.3 percent THC is legal to produce, sell and possess in Alabama.
Amazingly, Marshall was actually wrong about that. The farm bill did not de facto legalize CBD in all 50 states. In order to adhere to federal regulations, the state must produce hemp regulatory procedures of its own and submit them to the U.S. Department of Agriculture before it’s actually considered legal. Until then, the state’s current hemp and CBD laws remain in effect. Moreover, a state has every right to regulate the production and sale of CBD.
And that’s not all. Hemp extracts and CBD are still regulated by the FDA which says that it’s illegal to add CBD to foods and beverages. That may change later this year, but in the meantime, it’s a no-no.
Now, if you can, imagine the inestimable time and money spent on state and federal hearings related to all of this. It’s mind-boggling. And, this entire time, Alabamians have been buying and using CBD oil and CBD-infused foods and beverages regardless of federal and state laws!
Alabama Marijuana Laws
At the present moment, marijuana remains illegal in Alabama, even for medicinal use. However, lawmakers are working on medical marijuana measures as we write and may have even implemented them by the time you read this.
The proposed CARE Act, would create the Alabama Cannabis Commission and enable it to establish a patient registry system and provide licenses for the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana in the state — a huge step in the right direction (albeit against federal law).
Until all of this goes down, marijuana will remain illegal. Even afterward, it remains illegal for those not taking part in the state’s medical marijuana program.
In the state of Alabama, the possession of any amount of marijuana or cannabis oils produced from marijuana is punishable by up to a year in prison and a $6,000 fine upon first offense.
Another point to make in regards to the legal issues associated with medical marijuana use is that it could cause you to fail a drug test or roadside sobriety test resulting in the loss or a job, or suspension of your driver’s license, massive legal fees, and a potential prison term.
CBD vs THC used as a Medicine
Okay, so it looks like CBD oil may now be at least considered legal by law enforcement officials in the state of Alabama. And medical marijuana might soon be legal in Alabama. The question remains, do you really need the THC? Or is hemp-derived CBD effective without the THC?
Many medical marijuana experts claim that THC provides some benefits that CBD does not, or is less effective than CBD alone. The combination of CBD and THC, they say, is ideal for treating a wide array of medical conditions. And in certain cases, they may well be right.
That being said, many CBD users report excellent results without the THC. In fact, the CBD-based drug Epidiolex has been shown in clinical trials to be effective at reducing seizures. And there are dozens of other medical conditions for which researchers and patients alike claim that CBD alone can provide relief.
CBD works via a number of different molecular pathways in the human body, the most important of which is the human endocannabinoid system, or ECS. The ECS is responsible for keeping our health in balance.
For example, when we’re in need of nutrients it’s the ECS that makes us feel hungry, and when we’ve had our fill, it’s the ECS that makes us feel full. If this system gets out of balance we may pig out when we don’t need to or not eat enough. This is just one example. There are countless ways in which the ECS helps to maintain health. There are also other mechanisms aside from the ECS upon which CBD has an effect.
We can’t go into all of the ways CBD works in the human body in this post, but here’s a partial list of the benefits that CBD has been shown to provide:
- Anti Anxiety
- Analgesic (pain reducer)
- Antiemetic (reduces nausea and vomiting)
Here’s a partial list of conditions which might be treatable with CBD:
- ADD & ADHD
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Bipolar Disorder
- Colitis & Crohn’s Disease
- Epilepsy & Seizures
- Heart Disease
- Huntington’s Disease (HD)
- Kidney Disease
- Liver Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Skin Conditions
- Sleep Disorders
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
So, the bottom line is, if you don’t want to get high, or you don’t want to risk being charged with a DUI or losing your job, you might want to avoid the THC found in marijuana and cannabis oils and just stick with hemp CBD oil or CBD-infused edibles.
Where To Buy CBD Oil In Alabama
Since long before officials in the state of Alabama gave the go-ahead to all residents to use hemp CBD, many smaller shops in the state — everything from smoke shops to gas stations — have been selling CBD oils and CBD infused products, especially in the larger cities in the state such as Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, and Huntsville, Alabama. Although the FDA has specifically warned that CBD is not approved as a food additive, many of these shops sell products such as CBD gummies and baked goods, as well as CBD skin creams, salves, and balms, CBD vape oils and cartridges, and CBD beverages.
Where you won’t find CBD in the state of Alabama is at the major retailers such as Walgreens and CVS which both recently announced they would be selling CBD products at stores in other states but not in Alabama. Considering that the state’s law enforcement officials aren’t even sure what the deal is, it’s still too risky for the larger companies to get in the game.
If Alabama lawmakers pass the proposed CARE Act medical marijuana bill, then patients taking part in the program will be able to purchase CBD oil — with and without THC — at state-licensed dispensaries.
A myriad of hemp CBD products can also be ordered online. Some of the major online CBD sellers carry a far wider variety of products than a local shop is able to — everything from CBD honey to CBD cake pops, and even CBD cotton candy and CBD popcorn.
Many CBD companies also make CBD products for pets which can be purchased online. Never give CBD products made for humans to your pets. And never, ever give products containing THC to your pets. Pet’s are far more sensitive to cannabinoids than humans.
So, there you have it, the full breakdown of the legalities of CBD oil in the state of Alabama. We’ll try to keep you posted on any updates related to Alabama’s CBD and marijuana laws as they happen. In the meantime, stay healthy my friends!
- Carly’s Law Alabama Code Title 13A. Criminal Code § 13A-12-214.2
- Leni’s Law Alabama Code Title 13A. Criminal Code § 13A-12-214.3
- NORML – Alabama CBD-Specific Marijuana Law (summary)
- NORML – Alabama Marijuana Laws (summary)
- FindLaw.com Alabama Marijuana Laws (more detailed)
- WSFA News – Alabama house Democrats to discuss legalization, potential taxation of medical marijuana
- AL.com – Five key figures in Alabama’s medical marijuana debate