The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recently issued a four page document with legal guidance on the sale of hemp based CBD products in California. The document states that hemp based CBD products meant for human or animal consumption may not be sold in stores in California. Only hemp seed oils may be sold and used in products meant for human or animal consumption. Remember from the previous section that hemp seed oil contains almost no CBD so this can be misleading. Below is an excerpt from the CDPH document.



When this document came out in the spring of 2018, this struck fear in California hemp CBD retailers, but not enough fear to make them stop selling their products against the ruling of the California Department of Public Health. This is where the legality of hemp based CBD gets tricky. Recently, people have said that ‘ hemp is the new weed’ because it is now in a regulatory ‘grey area’ much like cannabis has been in California since the inception of prop 215 in 1996, up until prop 64 was implemented in 2018. Now that cannabis is so heavily regulated and taxed, it is no longer the cash grab it has been for the last 20 years.

Risqué entrepreneurs are instead turning to hemp based CBD to pad their wallets, because hemp based CBD sellers feel that due to the lack of enforcement and grey legality of hemp CBD, they can sell their products worldwide, online and without fear of enforcement until the CDPH or the FDA actually steps in and starts enforcing licensing and testing standards.

That’s right, hemp based CBD products are not held accountable to any testing standards, which is why we conducted this study. We wanted to investigate many of these hemp based CBD products that you find on the shelves of grocery stores and gas stations to find out if they meet the same potency and safety standards as the California cannabis industry. 

According to the CDPH, the only way to access CBD legally in California is by purchasing it from a licensed cannabis dispensary where CBD products are sourced exclusively from female cannabis plants. Female cannabis is closely regulated by both the Bureau of Cannabis Control and the CDPH, so CBD products sold in licensed cannabis dispensaries are held to regulatory testing and safety standards. Hemp based products are not regulated by the California cannabis industry and are therefore not allowed to be sold through dispensaries in California as they are not held to regulatory standards.

So, any CBD products you see in grocery stores or gas stations is not legally allowed to be sold in California, but small retailers are doing it anyway because there is no fear of enforcement. Often times, they will make whatever claims necessary to make the sale of their ‘cure-all’ CBD products. 

Now that you have a better understanding of the differences between types of CBD and the regulatory landscape of CBD products in California, let’s dive in and take a look at 12 of these off the shelf CBD products we tested at Infinite Chemical Analyses Lab in San Diego, California.