Is CBD Oil Legal in PA?
The legal status of cannabis in the U.S. has been a rapidly changing landscape over the past decade. With most legislation becoming increasingly lenient toward marijuana’s medicinal functions, this augurs well for many users. Is CBD oil legal in PA, though?
In short, yes. CBD oil is legal in Pennsylvania—if it is hemp-derived. Not so for medical marijuana, of which CBD is a major constituent, though, so read on.
RELATED: What Does CBD Mean?
CBD Legality in The U.S.—A Gray Area
A little research reveals that the area of U.S. cannabis legality is gray, with many more than 50 shades to consider. Conflicting federal vs. state law keeps everyone pretty confused, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) still classifies all derivatives of the Cannabis sativa L. plant as Schedule I controlled substances. However, this classification could soon be challenged, as a CBD-based antiepileptic drug has recently received the thumbs-up from an FDA advisory panel. CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the best-known compounds of cannabis. 
This legal jumble is not stopping users, manufacturers or researchers, though—CBD oil products is a burgeoning business in PA, with Philadelphia a leader in research and novel applications for its use.
Let’s look at the legalities in simple terms to answer the question, Is CBD oil legal in PA? in more detail.
Is CBD REALLY Legal in PA? Marijuana vs Hemp Derived CBD Oil
CBD is one of over 60 cannabinoids found in the Cannabis Sativa L. plant. It has potent healing properties, used by many to soothe a great variety of health complaints. CBD products are often viewed with suspicion, though, because of its close relative and fellow cannabinoid, THC.
As most of us know by now, THC also has many healing characteristics that have been studied extensively over the years, but it comes with a snag. This compound causes the well-known ‘high’ associated with marijuana use, and for that reason, it is unlawful everywhere in the U.S. to perform certain tasks, such as driving etc, with more than a small amount of THC in your system.
THC is marijuana-derived, while many CBD oil products are derived from hemp, which is also cannabis, but with low THC content.
So, hemp-derived CBD oil is legal in PA, as it is in all other states of the U.S. Marijuana-derived CBD oil could exceed the legal THC level, and land you in hot water.
However, CBD and THC work extremely well together for a great number of serious illnesses, so legislation is growing increasingly permissive for medical marijuana use. This is also the case in PA.
In April 2016, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed Bill SB3 and PA’s Medical Marijuana Program into law. This applies to the farming, processing, distribution, and use of cannabis for medical purposes in Pennsylvania. The legislation, according to the memorandum of Pennsylvania Senate Session 2015–2016, would “allow physicians in Pennsylvania to recommend medicinal cannabis to patients who would medically benefit from such a treatment…”
Also according to the memorandum, prohibitions for its use include:
- Smoking medical cannabis (this possibly excludes vaping for medicinal purposes)
- Engaging in any task that “would constitute negligence or professional malpractice”
- Driving motor vehicles, aircraft, motorboats, or heavy machinery with more than 10 nanograms of THC (the psychoactive compound present in cannabis) in your system.  
Can State Legislation Override Federal Legislation?
No, it cannot. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) explained in a 2013 memorandum that it could still prosecute you for breaking civil and criminal laws regarding marijuana possession and use.
That said, federal prosecution is very unlikely if you use medical marijuana for health issues. The DOJ has certain enforcement priorities pertaining to the plant and its use. These include prevention of the following: 
- Distribution to minors
- Revenue from sales to gangs, cartels, and other criminal enterprises
- An activity where state-authorized marijuana application is used to cover up trafficking of other illegal drugs or activity
- Violence and the use of firearms wherever cannabis is grown and distributed
- Driving under the influence and the “exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use”
- Cultivating cannabis on public property and land and endangering the environment with cultivation on public land
- Possession of marijuana on federal property
So, it appears that the national DOJ may be more concerned with curbing acts of crime and ensuring public safety than with prosecuting individuals who need medical marijuana or marijuana-derived CBD for health purposes.
Since CBD Oil Became Legal in PA
Today, an excess of 21,000 patients are registered to the state’s Medical Marijuana Program. So, “Is CBD legal in PA?” is not a question that needs to flummox anyone any longer.
Yet, who qualifies for legal use of medical marijuana, and how can you legally get CBD oil?
17 Qualifying Conditions
The Act allows you to register for the state’s program if you are suffering from one of 17 serious medical conditions. As quoted from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania website, the conditions include the following:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Cancer, including remission therapy
- Crohn’s disease
- Damage to the nervous tissue of the central nervous system (brain-spinal cord) with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, and other associated neuropathies
- Dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders
- HIV / AIDS
- Huntington’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Intractable seizures
- Multiple sclerosis
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Opioid use disorder for which conventional therapeutic interventions are contraindicated or ineffective, or for which adjunctive therapy is indicated in combination with primary therapeutic interventions
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain
- Sickle cell anemia
- Terminal illness
How Can You Apply for Participation in the Medical Marijuana Program?
Patients and caregivers can apply to get medical marijuana through a registration process with the Department of Health, PA. The steps involve creating a personal profile on the DOH’s registry and obtaining a doctor’s certificate that confirms your diagnosis. Then, you have to return to the DOH registry to buy a medical marijuana ID card before getting your medical cannabis from an approved dispensary in Pennsylvania. Caregivers can expect to complete a criminal background check and a number of other forms before they are able to gain access to the program.
The process is cumbersome, but it still works. Tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians are already benefiting from the program, and daily, lives are changed.
Is CBD legal in PA and thriving as a business? Oh yes. Philadelphia, known for its progressive stance on many issues, is again a trailblazer for legal medical marijuana in the U.S. 
University Leads MS Marijuana User Patient Study
The Thomas Jefferson University recently announced the launch of the mmj.org project through its Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp. Working in tandem with a privately-owned digital health startup called ioVito, mmj.org is a health registry that “aims to advance the science related to medical marijuana and connect and serve patients and all stakeholders with practical evidence-based resources.” This is one of many initiatives that all work so that marijuana can shed its jacket of illegality as a Schedule I controlled substance. 
Is CBD oil legal in PA? Yes, if you are a state-registered user, farmer or dispenser. Hopefully, legislation will soon include more health applications for marijuana and its healthful derivatives.