Recent years have seen the rise of CBD, also known as cannabidiol, due to the compound’s therapeutic benefits and minimal psychoactive effects. Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill (1), CBD is technically federally legal. However, each state has the right to create its own CBD regulations, which has caused some confusion among consumers and retailers alike.
Wisconsin, in particular, has very specific laws regarding CBD and its usage. These stricter laws are partly due to the state’s stance on marijuana and marijuana-related products, as marijuana possession, sale, and manufacturing are still illegal under the state’s laws (2). In this article, we’ll navigate the nuances of CBD’s legal status in Wisconsin and break down the complex regulations governing its use and sale.
Hemp-derived CBD vs. Marijuana-derived CBD
Distinguishing between hemp-derived CBD and marijuana-derived CBD is crucial to understanding the CBD legalities in Wisconsin, as the two sources have varying levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC, a psychoactive compound, is responsible for the “high” feeling that marijuana and its related products are known for.
The controversy surrounding THC circles back to the 2018 Farm Bill, as the bill classified hemp as Cannabis sativa L., characterizing it by its low THC content—usually a maximum of 0.3% in dry weight. This low percentage makes hemp-derived CBD legal, as marijuana-derived CBD will have higher THC levels and exceed the 0.3% limit.
Since hemp and marijuana have varying levels of THC, each type of CBD is placed under a different category of laws in Wisconsin. Hemp-derived CBD is legal across the state, with some stipulations, while marijuana-derived CBD is subject to Wisconsin’s stricter marijuana laws.
Is hemp-derived CBD oil legal in Wisconsin?
Hemp-derived CBD is probably the only legal way to consume THC in the state. Its legality is only a relatively recent phenomenon, as many lawmakers in the state were still opposed to the trace amounts of THC it contained.
It took the arrival of the 2018 Farm Bill and the removal of industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act for the state to amend its laws and allow access to only hemp-derived CBD. Even then, Wisconsin residents had to wait until the passing of Wisconsin Act 68 (3) in November of 2019 to access hemp-derived CBD products legally.
Today, hemp-derived CBD products can be accessed legally across Wisconsin as long as said products contain no more than 0.3% THC.
Is marijuana-derived CBD legal in Wisconsin?
Marijuana-derived CBD is a complicated issue in Wisconsin due to the existence of Lydia’s Law. Usually, in states with strict marijuana laws, the higher THC percentage of marijuana-derived CBD would subject it to the state’s marijuana laws—with exemptions for medical marijuana usage. However, since Wisconsin has no medical marijuana program, the stipulations for using marijuana-derived CBD are extremely specific.
Before the 2018 Farm Bill, Wisconsin Act 267 legalized the use of marijuana-derived CBD specifically for individuals with seizure disorders. This act was also known as “Lydia’s Law,” named after a child with severe epilepsy. According to Lydia’s law, hospitals with an FDA investigational license can access and prescribe marijuana-derived CBD products, which must also be FDA-approved (4).
However, if you’re not a patient with a seizure disorder, you can’t have legal access to marijuana-derived CBD. Anyone possessing marijuana-derived CBD would be subject to the laws regarding marijuana possession. Unfortunately, unlike other states where marijuana has been decriminalized, marijuana is listed as a Schedule I hallucinogenic substance under the Wisconsin Uniform Substances Act (5). Individuals who possess marijuana may face severe penalties: a first offense would be a misdemeanor charge and a 6-month jail term if found in possession of a gram of marijuana, and a second offense would be considered a felony with a 42-month jail term as a possible punishment (6).
Does Wisconsin have a medical marijuana program?
Wisconsin is one of the few states left standing with no medical marijuana program. Even in the case of Lydia’s Law, marijuana-derived CBD is the only marijuana product that can be accessed; any other type of medical marijuana is still considered illegal.
While there have been efforts to legalize medical marijuana use past Lydia’s Law, none have been successful so far.
What are the laws surrounding hemp-derived CBD use in Wisconsin?
Following the 2018 Farm Bill and Wisconsin Act 68, hemp-derived products—including CBD—are legal in Wisconsin as long as the products don’t exceed the 0.3% THC limit.
Additionally, the product must come from an industrial hemp plant. So, even if the CBD product meets the concentration requirements, it’s technically still illegal if the extraction source isn’t industrial hemp.
Can minors purchase hemp-derived CBD products in Wisconsin?
Despite the strict marijuana and marijuana-derived CBD laws in Wisconsin, the state has no minimum age requirements or possession limits for hemp-derived CBD. Thus, age limits for purchasing hemp-derived CBD products are up to the discretion of the retailer or dispensary. Anecdotally, consumers under 18 may find it challenging to purchase hemp-derived CBD products in brick-and-mortar stores, as most dispensaries and CBD retailers restrict the purchase age to 18 and older.
Is hemp flower legal in Wisconsin?
CBD hemp flower is legal in Wisconsin if it meets THC limits. However, the state’s tough stance on marijuana may warrant caution when publicly smoking hemp. High-quality hemp may easily be mistaken for marijuana, and local authorities may not know the difference between the two.
The similarity in look, smell, and feel to marijuana may also make finding hemp flower difficult in Wisconsin, as most retailers would be wary of putting such a product on display.
Is growing hemp flower legal in Wisconsin?
Yes, growing hemp flower is legal in Wisconsin as long as individuals growing hemp obtain their license from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Hemp license applicants can’t have any felony offenses involving controlled substances to be granted the license. Successful applicants must then register their hemp acreage to the Farm Service Agency (FSA) along with their USDA license number, location of the cultivation site, and description of the land or facility.
Is selling CBD legal in Wisconsin?
Yes, selling CBD is legal in Wisconsin, given that the CBD products don’t exceed the 0.3% THC limit and are explicitly extracted from industrial hemp. Additionally, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection has specific labeling instructions for all industrial hemp products, including CBD, in which products must have the following visibly shown on the label:
- The name and business address of the manufacturer, processor, or distributor and their connection to the product
- The net quantity of contents in the appropriate units of measure (7)
In summary, CBD is legal to extract, sell, and possess in Wisconsin as long as the following conditions are met:
- The CBD is hemp-derived
- The CBD meets the THC limits of 0.3% by dry weight
- The CBD is labeled appropriately
Any other CBD product would be considered illegal in the state, though marijuana-derived CBD is legal strictly for patients with severe seizure disorders.
Additionally, while there’s no legal age restriction when purchasing CBD products, most dispensaries and physical stores may require buyers to be at least 18 to purchase.
While the complex web of laws surrounding CBD in states such as Wisconsin can be difficult to comprehend, understanding these legalities is essential for anyone interested in using CBD products within the state. Knowledge and compliance with updated laws will ensure your CBD experience is always safe, stress-free, and enjoyable.
- H.R.5485 – 115th Congress (2017-2018): Hemp Farming Act of 2018. (n.d.). Congress.gov | Library of Congress. https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/5485
- 2019 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations :: Chapter 961. Uniform controlled substances act. (n.d.). Justia Law. https://law.justia.com/codes/wisconsin/2019/chapter-961/
- Wisconsin Legislature: 2019 Wisconsin Act 68. (n.d.). https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/related/acts/68
- Wisconsin Legislature: 2013 Wisconsin Act 267. (n.d.). https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2013/related/acts/267
- DSPS Controlled Substances. (n.d.). https://dsps.wi.gov/Pages/RulesStatutes/ControlledSubstances.aspx
- Wisconsin Laws and Penalties – NORML. (2022, September 26). NORML. https://norml.org/laws/wisconsin-penalties-2/
- Is CBD Oil Legal in Wisconsin? | WisconsinStateCannabis.org. (n.d.). Wisconsin Cannabis Information Portal. https://wisconsinstatecannabis.org/cbd