Despite CBD’s quasi-legal status, major retailers including popular drug stores like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid are stocking up on CBD skincare products and oils. CBD is almost everywhere. You can even find luxury CBD products in haute retailers like Neiman Marcus and Barney’s New York. The dying shopping mall is even getting a life-saving CBD infusion in the form of 100 kiosks.

Now that CBD products like lotions, oils, and salves are available in major drug stores, more consumers will have a chance to dabble in the CBD craze. Before you run off to your nearest CVS, Walgreens, or Rite Aid, here’s what you need to know.

Hemp Legalization

The 2018 Farm Bill essentially legalized hemp-derived CBD by legally differentiating the hemp plant from the intoxicating cannabis plant. Hemp is defined as any cannabis that has less than 0.3% delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that gets you high. Hemp is no longer listed under the Controlled Substances Act.

What’s the FDA’s Stance?

The reason you won’t find CBD food and beverage products is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved any CBD-based dietary supplements or food. The FDA is set to hold a public hearing to hear out the science behind cannabis-derived compounds.

They’ll be creating a high-level internal agency to figure out ways CBD can be safely marketed. In the meantime, they’ll be issuing warning letters to CBD companies that make egregious and unfounded health claims about their products.

To make matters more complicated, federal law states that any compound being studied as a medicine, can’t be included in food or supplement. Many pharmaceutical companies are leading CBD research with government approval. The FDA has only approved one CBD drug, Epidiolex.

What’s in Drug Store CBD?

As mentioned above, CBD’s legal status is under question, but retailers are still taking the risk and supplying consumers with popular CBD products. CBD lotions, creams, and oils sold in places like CVS and Walgreens are made out of industrial hemp, a fibrous variety of the cannabis plant that is rich in CBD, but lacks enough THC to get you high.

Can You Buy CBD at All Drug Stores?

The CBD rush is hitting some areas more than others. Drug stores are selling CBD products only in select states. For now, Walgreens is selling CBD products in 1,500 stores in the following states:

  • Colorado
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee
  • New Mexico
  • Kentucky
  • South Carolina
  • Vermont
  • Illinois
  • Indiana


Rite Aid isn’t as gung ho about CBD as CVS and Walgreens, but will be selling CBD products in more than 200 stores across two states: Washington and Oregon. CVS will be selling CBD topicals in the following 8 states:

  • California
  • Kentucky
  • Alabama
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Tennessee
  • Colorado
  • Illinois

What Types of CBD Can You Buy?

Don’t expect to find CBD-rich flower or shatter in Walgreens any time soon, or ever. In late March 2019, Walgreens announced it would sell CBD creams, patches, and sprays. Their competitor, CVS, announced plans to sell CBD topicals like lotions, sprays, salves, roll-ons, and creams earlier in the month. Rite Aid will be selling CBD creams, lotions, and lip balms.

Hemp’s legal status has prompted federal agencies to create a regulatory framework on cannabis-derived medicines and dietary supplements. The FDA is known for its “slow and burdensome approval process,” so don’t expect any major changes in the near future. For now, consumers will be able to try low-risk cannabis-based topicals to relieve a variety of skin, muscle, and nerve conditions.

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