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Are Terpenes Legal?

We’re here to set the record straight by saying that terpenes are totally legal.

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You heard that right, terpenes are legal. Terpenes are all around us and we’ve been interacting with them our whole lives. Just taking a walk in the woods means that you’ll be breathing in the terpenes from the plants surrounding you. Even if you don’t get outside much, you’ll still come in contact with terpenes.


Does the bright, citrus flavor of your morning glass of orange juice help you perk up and get your day started? That’s terpenes. Do you relax at the end of a long day with a lavender infused bath bomb? Yep, that’s terpenes too. See what we mean?


The reason there’s confusion surrounding terpenes is because of the relationship between terpenes and cannabis. However, depending on how terpenes are sourced and used, they don’t necessarily have anything to do with cannabis! Let us explain...

Yes, Terpenes Are Legal

Terpenes are organic hydrocarbons and contribute to the flavor and scent of most plants. They can protect plants by deterring or attracting certain animals or insects, but they also have potential therapeutic effects for humans too. That’s why so many of us are interested in them!

Through a variety of different processes (we favor the molecular distillation process) plant matter can be distilled again and again until those hydrocarbons are isolated into their purest forms. 

This allows people to take advantage of particular terpenes while avoiding ones they may be sensitive to. We don’t know about you, but we think that’s pretty amazing! It’s opened a lot of doors for people to create unique products for themselves or even on a large scale for mass production.

People tend to get confused, however, when terpenes are either manufactured from the cannabis plant OR when they’re used in cannabis products.

What about Cannabis Terpenes?

Like we said earlier, terpenes come from plants. The cannabis plant just happens to produce a LOT of terpenes. If we’re being totally honest, one of the reasons terpenes are having their moment in the spotlight is because more and more states are legalizing cannabis either medically or recreationally. 

It’s completely possible to distill the cannabis plant until you isolate its terpenes. Cannabis terpenes can be used as isolates, but each cannabis strain has its own unique blend of terpenes that creates a unique flavor and aroma. This is known as a terpene profile, and every plant technically has its own unique terpene profile.

The terpene profiles of cannabis plants, however, have particularly interesting therapeutic potential. When terpenes are utilized alongside cannabis, a phenomenon known as the entourage effect makes each of the different compounds more effective than they would be on their own. This can make them more powerful anti-inflammatories, analgesics, mood elevators, or even more powerful antioxidants.

For those looking to explore the therapeutic potential of terpenes and/or cannabis, this makes cannabis terpenes fascinating. Unfortunately, because cannabis isn’t legal in every state, neither are cannabis derived terpenes. 

Industrial Hemp, Marijuana, and Terpenes

Due to constantly changing laws and regulations, cannabis terpenes can still come under fire if they’re not sourced from industrial hemp. This is where things get really confusing.

Industrial hemp and marijuana both come from the same plant, Cannabis Sativa L. The biggest difference is honestly just how the plants are used. Hemp has a lot of potential as a textile and contains very low THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and high levels of CBD (cannabidiol). This means that industrial hemp is non-psychoactive. 

The cannabis plant causing so much controversy is marijuana. With less industrial potential and high levels of THC, this plant is mainly grown for its different psychoactive effects. In some states it’s legal, and in others it’s not.

The Farm Bill of 2018 legalized industrial hemp on a federal level. The passing of this bill means that CBD sourced from industrial hemp is federally legal too. Following that logic, terpenes sourced from industrial hemp are technically legal, but terpenes sourced from “marijuana plants” are illegal...depending on what state you’re in (*sigh*).

Each state has its own rules and regulations regarding the legality of cannabis. So, if cannabis is legal in your state, then cannabis terpenes are legal too. However, if your state is still stuck in the cannabis prohibition era, then you’re out of luck.

What does that mean for you?

The lack of education surrounding these plants and the terpenes they possess, mean that a lot of people avoid cannabis terpenes altogether just to be safe. 

Honestly, that’s fine!

That’s kind of the beauty of terpenes. If you don’t want to get involved in the cannabis debate whatsoever, then stick to botanically derived terpenes and don’t sweat it.  Our terpenes are non-cannabis derived and are 100% legal in every state. Plus, we’re always experimenting with botanical terpene blends to mimic some of the uplifting, euphoric properties that cannabis possesses without any psychoactive effects.

If, however, you live in a state where cannabis is 100% legal and you want to experiment with adding terpenes to your products for the added entourage effect, then you have options too!

No matter what you’ve got going on, there are plenty of opportunities for you to implement terpenes into your life and into your products. If you still have questions then feel free to contact us. This is what we do and we’d love to help you use terpenes in whatever capacity works best for you.


Summary --


  • All the terpenes at abstraxtech.com are botanically derived and are 100% legal.
  • Cannabis terpenes are legal depending on what state you’re in.
  • So long as terpenes are pure, they possess the same properties regardless of their source.
  • If you’re unsure, contact us and we can help you figure out what types of terpenes are legal in your state.

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