How Old Do You Have to Be to Buy CBD in the USA?
In 2018, the Agriculture Improvement Act (Farm Bill) was passed. This bill federally legalized hemp and hemp-derived products, like CBD extracts. However, the federal government did not impose a national age restriction for purchasing CBD products.
- State Regulations on Age to Buy CBD
- Why Are There CBD Age Requirements?
- Do All CBD Products Have Age Restrictions?
- Can You Buy CBD Online Under 18?
- Are There Exceptions for Medical Use?
- Are There Legal Risks for Underage Possession?
- Common Questions Around Age Requirements for CBD Purchases
- Age Restrictions for CBD
- In Conclusion
- Why are there varying age requirements in different states?
- How are CBD age requirements enforced?
- What are the risks of giving CBD to a child under the age limits?
- Can age limits be bypassed with a prescription?
- Is it legal for minors to order CBD online?
- Do CBD age limits vary outside the US?
- How can consumers validate a retailer is complying with age limits?
- What are penalties for underage use on school campuses?
- Do age limits on smoking/vaping products also apply to CBD?
Since there is no federal regulation, age requirements for CBD purchases fall on individual state laws. States have taken different approaches when setting a minimum age to buy CBD products. Let's explore some of the key considerations around CBD age restrictions.
State Regulations on Age to Buy CBD
As of late 2022, there are only 4 states that restrict CBD purchases to those over 21 - Alabama, Alaska, Utah, and Nebraska. Most states allow CBD purchases starting at age 18. However, some take an even more relaxed approach with no age restrictions.
Certain states classify hemp-derived CBD separately from marijuana-derived CBD. For example, in Florida and Texas, CBD products with less than 0.3% THC can be purchased starting at age 18. But you must be 21 to purchase marijuana-derived CBD products.
Some states without explicit CBD age requirements still place restrictions around CBD types. In Missouri for instance, CBD products can be purchased at any age. But requirements exist around CBD types - products with less than 5% CBD can be sold to all ages while those with higher concentrations are restricted to ages 18+.
Overall, most states allow 18+ purchases. But it's important to look at your specific state laws to understand age restrictions around CBD products.
Why Are There CBD Age Requirements?
States with more restrictive CBD age requirements often align with the 21+ age limit around cannabis products with psychoactive effects. Lawmakers in these states are likely extra cautious about making CBD widely accessible to minors.
But why should THC and CBD be regulated so differently? Let's explore some key reasons states impose age limits specific to CBD:
THC vs CBD
Despite both originating from cannabis plants, THC and CBD have very different effects. As discussed earlier, THC causes intoxication while CBD does not. Still, some argue exposure to THC and CBD at young ages may negatively impact development. Thus, many states take a conservative approach by restricting CBD access until 21, even without the risks of impairment from THC.
Unknown Health Effects
While early CBD research is promising, data around long-term use and health effects is still very limited. The long-term impacts of CBD, especially for younger users, are not fully known. Some states likely limit CBD purchases until 18 or 21 due to these unknown factors around developing bodies and health impacts from consistent, heavy use.
Align with Adulthood
Another rationale is ensuring consumers have reached an age of maturity before making decisions around CBD use. Similar to alcohol or cannabis purchase limits, some states only allow individuals who have reached the age of adulthood to purchase CBD. This approach ultimately aims to let consumers make informed, responsible decisions around CBD use.
One final consideration is how age restrictions support parental oversight of CBD use. States that prohibit CBD sales to minors help ensure parents can control or monitor their children's access to CBD. However, some argue that eliminating legal retail access may inadvertently increase minor usage through black market purchases.
These are some of the key rationales around limiting CBD sales to certain ages. But the research and data is far from conclusive, leaving individual states to make a judgment call on appropriate age limits.
Do All CBD Products Have Age Restrictions?
While most states place age limits around CBD purchases, some CBD products are exempt from these same requirements. Namely, CBD products with very low THC concentrations, like 0.0% or 0.3%, often don't have any age restrictions.
States make this distinction because trace amounts of THC are unlikely to cause impairment. Let's look at some examples of states exempting certain CBD types:
- Arizona - Hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3% THC can be purchased at any age, while marijuana-derived CBD requires ages 21+
- Virginia - CBD products with 0.0% THC have no age restrictions but CBD products with higher THC concentrations have age requirements
- Ohio - CBD products with under 0.3% THC can be purchased starting at age 18 while marijuana-derived CBD requires being 21+
So if you see a CBD product advertised as 0.0% or less than 0.3% THC, age restrictions likely do not apply in most states. However, verifying with your specific state laws is always the best approach.
Can You Buy CBD Online Under 18?
Purchasing CBD online usually requires verifying your age upon checkout. Most online CBD brands will only process orders for those 18+ or 21+ depending on their shipping locations.
Some online CBD retailers implement an age gate where you must enter a birth date before accessing the website. Other brands may allow you to view products but block underage checkout attempts.
In a few states with no specified age restrictions, it may be possible to purchase CBD online. However, any legitimate CBD business will still likely implement age verification at checkout to align with industry best practices.
While not outright illegal in some states, purchasing CBD online under 18 is still generally inadvisable. The long-term health effects of CBD use are still unknown, especially for developing teens and children. CBD purchases by minors also raise concerns around responsible oversight by parents and physicians.
If considering CBD use under 18, it is always best to discuss with a doctor and parents to determine the appropriate approach based on your individual health factors.
Are There Exceptions for Medical Use?
The age limits discussed so far apply to recreational CBD purchases. You may be wondering whether medical exemptions allow access for minors under 18.
Some states with medical marijuana programs do permit access for minors under 18 with a medical card and physician approval. However, approval is granted on a case-by-case basis for severe conditions unresponsive to other treatments.
For hemp-derived CBD products, recreational age restrictions still apply in most states, even if using for a medical purpose. While low-THC CBD products are generally considered safe, physicians are unlikely to recommend continual, ongoing use for those under 18 given unknown long-term impacts.
Those under 18 should pursue CBD only under direct medical supervision. Never try to self-medicate with CBD without discussing with your doctor first.
Are There Legal Risks for Underage Possession?
Given CBD products are widely available, teens may wonder if legal risks exist for underage possession. In most states, possession of hemp-derived CBD products by minors does not constitute a criminal offense.
However, penalties around underage use will vary:
- In California for instance, those under 18 in possession of cannabis products including CBD may be required to complete drug education or counseling.
- Some states allow stores to confiscate CBD products from underage patrons. But no clear penalties apply beyond confiscation in many areas.
- Schools likely have additional restrictions around on-campus CBD possession by students. There may be academic repercussions like suspension if violating school codes of conduct.
While not classified as criminal activity in most cases, underage CBD use can still involve consequences from state law enforcement or academic institutions. There may also be other risks like unintentional failed drug tests or unknown social and health impacts. All reasons why those under 18 should avoid access without medical oversight.
Common Questions Around Age Requirements for CBD Purchases
We've covered a lot of ground around age restrictions for buying CBD. To recap, here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
How old do you need to be to buy CBD?
In most states, you need to be at least 18 years old. However, some states like Utah and Nebraska require you to be 21. A few states currently have no explicit age restrictions.
Can a 16 year old buy CBD?
Likely not. Apart from a few unrestricted states, laws prohibit CBD purchases for those under 18. Purchasing CBD under 18 goes against legal requirements in most states.
Is CBD illegal for minors?
Not directly. Most states do not impose criminal penalties for minors in possession of CBD. However, underage use is still generally prohibited and confiscation, citations, or academic discipline can sometimes occur.
Do you need a medical card for underage use?
Potentially. Some states with medical marijuana programs allow access for minors under 18 with physician approval. However, this is primarily intended for severe medical conditions unresponsive to other treatment options. Recreational use or self-directed medical use by those under 18 is restricted.
Can parents buy CBD for a child under 18?
Legally, this is a gray area. While providers sell CBD products to adult consumers, they cannot endorse uses that violate state laws, including administering to minors. Dispensing CBD to those under authorized age may carry legal risks for parents or providers.
Age Restrictions for CBD
Let's review the core aspects to keep in mind:
- Most states allow CBD purchases starting at 18 years old. A few have higher minimums of 21. And some currently have no age specifications.
- State laws differ in terms of marijuana-derived vs. hemp-derived CBD. Some restrict marijuana CBD products to 21+ but allow hemp CBD purchases at 18.
- Trace amounts of THC (0.0-0.3%) often exempt CBD products from age restrictions.
- age limits aim to balance safety precautions, adulthood decision-making, and parental oversight. But effects on developing bodies are still not fully characterized.
- While generally not criminal offenses, there may be consequences like confiscation, citations, or school discipline for underage possession.
- Those under 18 should only use CBD under medical supervision for approved conditions unresponsive to other treatments.
Always know your state laws and confer with a doctor around underage CBD use. While challenging to enforce in all situations, age limits aim to balance safety and responsible oversight. Carefully weigh the potential risks and benefits before pursuing CBD use under the age of 18.
We've explored the patchwork of laws around age restrictions for purchasing CBD products. Most states allow access starting between 18 to 21 years old. Age limits balance giving adulthood decision-making power while implementing cautious safety precautions.
Those under 18 should avoid self-directed CBD use given the unknowns around long-term health impacts on developing bodies. Only specialized medical cases under direct doctor supervision should warrant consideration of CBD for minors.
While difficult to monitor in all situations, CBD age limits establish responsible frameworks around retail availability, parental oversight, and enforcing safety precautions for younger users. They signify the need for further research to characterize CBD effects on youth health and development.
If you or a loved one are considering CBD use under 18, have an open discussion with your healthcare provider around the potential risks, benefits and medical oversight required. Together you can make the most informed decision around CBD access and find alternative treatment options as needed.
Why are there varying age requirements in different states?
The lack of federal regulation around a legal age for CBD purchases leaves it up to individual states to establish their own policies. States take into account factors like aligning with existing cannabis product age limits, wanting to exercise caution about health effects on developing bodies, and supporting parental authority. With conflicting perspectives on these issues, states arrive at varying conclusions around age limits.
How are CBD age requirements enforced?
Most enforcement happens at the point of sale, with stores required to verify customer age upon purchase. Some retailers also use age gates on their websites, requiring entry of a birth date. Outside of the retail environment, enforcement mechanisms are limited. Some states allow confiscation of CBD from minors, but most do not impose criminal penalties for underage possession alone.
What are the risks of giving CBD to a child under the age limits?
While not overtly illegal in some states, providing CBD to minors against age restrictions has risks. Retailers could face penalties for knowingly selling CBD formulations to underage customers. Parents/guardians may also face scrutiny for circumventing age restrictions without medical oversight. Most concerning are the unknown health impacts from regular pediatric CBD use, which lacks research support.
Can age limits be bypassed with a prescription?
Potentially, but with strict criteria. Some medical marijuana programs allow pediatric access with a prescription and doctor approval. However, this is intended for severe conditions unresponsive to other treatments. Self-directed "medical" CBD use under 18 outside of supervised treatment rarely warrants circumvention of age restrictions.
Is it legal for minors to order CBD online?
Technically no, but enforcement is challenging. Most online CBD retailers will block underage checkout attempts. However, without rigorous age verification, minors could potentially order from unscrupulous websites. While technically illegal, the lack of enforcement mechanisms makes underage online CBD purchases feasible but never advisable due to health risks.
Do CBD age limits vary outside the US?
Yes, age restrictions differ even more globally. Some countries classify CBD as a pharmaceutical or supplement and restrict sales to 18+, while others have no limitations. Canada matches US limits of 18+ or 19+ depending on province. Parts of Europe range from 16+ to 21+. Enforcement approaches also vary, with some regions lacking meaningful oversight.
How can consumers validate a retailer is complying with age limits?
Scrutinize the business for warning signs: unclear policies around age verification, marketing that appeals to youth, selling products known to be popular with teens. Legitimate, law-abiding CBD brands will state their age restrictions clearly and implement age gates on online purchases. Avoid "too good to be true" businesses willing to sell CBD without age verification.
What are penalties for underage use on school campuses?
School policies prohibit possession of any illegal substances, including CBD where age limits are unmet. Typical consequences are confiscation, suspension, probation, or expulsion after an investigation. The Supreme Court affirmed schools' rights to enforce anti-drug policies in their jurisdictions, even in states where recreational marijuana is legal.
Do age limits on smoking/vaping products also apply to CBD?
Yes, legal age minimums for tobacco products and e-cigarettes also carry over to CBD formulations meant for smoking or vaping. These age limits prevent underage access whether the product contains nicotine or just CBD. Any CBD vape products fall under tobacco age restrictions, even if not marketed as smoking cessation devices.
Most states allow the purchase of CBD products starting at age 18. However, a few have higher minimum age requirements of 21 years old, while some currently have no defined age limitations. The lack of federal regulation leaves it up to individual states to establish their own age restrictions for CBD purchases. Factors like aligning with existing cannabis product age limits, concerns over health effects on youth, and supporting parental oversight contribute to varying state policies. Age limits aim to balance giving adulthood decision-making authority while exercising cautious safety precautions given the unknowns around long-term CBD use on developing bodies. State laws also differ in terms of hemp-derived versus marijuana-derived CBD, with some restricting just marijuana CBD to 21+. CBD products with 0.0-0.3% THC often have no age minimums. While not overtly illegal in most states, underage CBD possession can still result in confiscation, citations, or academic discipline. Those under 18 should use CBD only under direct medical supervision for approved conditions unresponsive to other treatments. While enforcement mechanisms are limited outside of point of sale, CBD age restrictions signify the need for safety precautions and further research around effects on minors. Parents/guardians should carefully consider risks before providing CBD to those underage without physician guidance.