While the terms “CBD tincture” and “CBD oil” are often used interchangeably, the two are actually different. Tinctures are made by soaking cannabis in alcohol, while oils are made by suspending CBD in a carrier oil, like olive or coconut oil.
One would assume, then, that hemp-derived CBD should be federally legal in every state because the THC levels don’t surpass 0.3%. But CBD occupies a legal gray area. Several states, such as Nebraska and Idaho, still essentially regulate CBD oil as a Schedule 1 substance akin to marijuana.
A stand at the 2019 Southern Hemp Expo, in Tennessee. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
Hemp, marijuana and cannabanoidals
Though 15 states have now legalized recreational marijuana, it remains illegal federally in the United States. Technically, those in possession of marijuana in a legal weed state can still be punished under federal law, and traveling across state borders with cannabis is prohibited.
Marijuana, containing both CBD and more THC than hemp, has demonstrated therapeutic benefits for people with epilepsy, nausea, glaucoma and potentially even multiple sclerosis and opioid-dependency disorder.
CBD is a compound found in cannabis. There are hundreds of such compounds, which are termed “cannabinoids,” because they interact with receptors involved in a variety of functions like appetite, anxiety, depression and pain sensation. THC is also a cannabinoid.
“Pure” CBD, also called “CBD isolate,” is called that because all other cannabinoids have been removed. So have terpenes and flavonoids, which give marijuana its strong aroma and earthy flavor.
Sourced from marijuana
Psychoactive (produces a high)
CBD vs. THC: Key Differences
It can also be added to lotions and salves to apply to skin. It is important to note that the effects of these topical products will be localized since they are not being ingested.
Some research suggests that CBD and THC are generally safe and result in few side effects.
CBD and THC affect different receptors in the brain. Because of this, CBD typically does not have psychoactive effects—in other words, it won’t cause you to get high.
The CBD present in oils and other products is usually derived from fiber-type varieties of cannabis (hemp), because these are naturally higher in CBD content than drug-type varieties (marijuana). Although cultivation of hemp is allowed in many countries around the world, this is usually governed by strict regulations. After being banned for decades, hemp cultivation in the USA has only recently been reintroduced, and is still gearing up for full industrial production .
Analysis of Dutch cannabis oil samples obtained from actual patients, comparing the claimed cannabinoid content on the product label with lab results measured in the study 
Legal Status of Hemp and CBD
Oil has become a favorite mode of administration for many medical users of cannabis and cannabinoids for multiple reasons. First of all, concentrated extracts allow the consumption of a large dose of cannabinoids in an easily ingestible form. With CBD oil, there is no risk of intoxication (getting high) , so much larger doses can be consumed than would be possible for THC-rich products. Many users who prefer the holistic approach of using herbal cannabis worry about the stigma associated with the typical smell caused by smoking or vaporizing it. Cannabis oil has no smell that may identify a consumer as a cannabis user, and it can be used discretely even in a social setting, e.g., at work or around family. Moreover, it can be efficiently dosed simply by counting the number of drops consumed. These same benefits of using a concentrated extract were identified in a large survey among medicinal cannabis users published in 2013 , perhaps as an early indicator of the emergence of cannabis oils as a preferred method of ingestion. Currently, the market is developing further towards more sophisticated and patentable products, including oral capsules, liposomal products, skin creams, and chewing gums containing CBD.
Increasingly, CBD oil is also being promoted as a prophylactic treatment in order to prevent certain diseases from developing at all. The argument used is that the human endocannabinoid system is involved in basic life functions such as appetite, immune response, reproduction, and pain management . Because CBD functions as an indirect antagonist to human CB1 and CB2 receptors , it is reasoned that the presence of CBD prevents them from being overly activated, thereby protecting the nervous and immune systems from everyday stress. Furthermore, CBD is known to be a reasonably potent antioxidant, which further helps to protect against stressful influences . Although this clearly increases the market for CBD products, it also further erodes the scientific basis for the therapeutic use of CBD. After all, it is hard to prove scientifically that a disease was prevented by the use of a health-promoting product.
An important issue in the discussion around cannabis-derived oils is: how much THC is a legal CBD product allowed to contain in order not to be considered a narcotic? Authorities sometimes choose to deal with these regulations in a pragmatic way, recognizing that laws once designed to control marijuana abuse may not be fully applicable to hemp. For example, in the Netherlands, a maximum level of 0.05% THC is allowed in CBD products, even though, formally, any detectable trace of THC is illegal according to Dutch narcotics laws. This approach is based on the fact that even hemp varieties of cannabis produce a small amount of THC, and therefore naturally derived CBD extracts will carry some THC in the final products.