What is the legal status of CBD oil available in India?

Juliet D'cruz

Updated on:

CBD oil is a compound produced from the Cannabis plant diluted with carrier oils, having two active substances, CBD and THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), which causes alleged intoxication from the drug.

Stricter knowledge states CBD and THC are separate compounds of Cannabis sativa. Therefore, consuming the latter causes the psychoactive feeling of being high while the former alone cannot. 

Legal Exclusion and Licensing

Under Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (SCND), The NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act outlawed the recreational use of Cannabis in India in 1985. Although its medical use is not prohibited, it is almost non-existent in India. Most states don’t license the cultivation of the drug.

The leaves and seeds, separated from the flowering and fruiting tops of the plant, are excluded from the provision of the Act. Hence, CBD, which is extracted from the leaves of the cannabis plant, is technically not illegal. Also, the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940 has issued licenses for the manufacture and sale of CBD oil. Such licensed drugs can be legitimately used for medicinal purposes under supervision after approval by CDSCO.

Having relatively easy access and medicinal properties, they possess massive potential in the field of human health. CBD Flower, one of the most important components, is a potent naturally occurring chemical found in Cannabis plants. Therefore, the flower’s properties may slightly differ from general CBD products.

CBD Oil or Cannabidioil

It’s vastly different from narcotic Cannabis or Hash Oil in terms of pharmacology and legal treatment.

Oil extraction from Hemp

CBD oil coming from hemp is considered legal at federal level unlike the ones coming from Marijuana with 5-15% concentration. The term hemp denotes cannabis having 0.3 % or less THC content by dry weight. Again, hemp, the prime source of CBD needs special permission for cultivation. 

The so close isomer to delta9, safe and beneficial Delta-8 might not be purely extracted. This shifts the focus towards improvisation in the production process and awareness regarding the various side effects. 

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Sale of CBD

The leaves of cannabis plants aren’t considered narcotic, and hence the CBD oil manufactured can’t be. These lesser found oils are mostly found online which are made out of full-spectrum extracts of the leaves. Due to a lack of government focus, the wild-grown plant has little scope for quality control and standardization; this discourages manufacturing units from producing such products at a meaningful scale.

The AYUSH ministry recognizes only full-spectrum oils, and only companies selling full-spectrum CBD oils have been given the license to sell these products.

Social Stigma

Misjudged perceptions and lack of proper knowledge have led to fear and myths. 

Recent controversies in Bollywood have retraced the stigmas running around its usage. The talking point started when the chats between Rhea Chakraborty, actor Sushant Singh Rajput and Jaya Saha revealed mention of CBD Oil.  


CBD Oil extracted from hemp, containing less than 0.3% THC is legal in India since 2019. Several companies are emerging into the business of making oils out of hemp. They may be effective in pain relief, and used in case of insomnia, stress, arthritis, cancer, etc.  But, a doctor’s prescription is required for buying such products. Any topical CBD for external use does not really require such a prescription. 

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