A new rule from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies all marijuana extracts, including cannabidiol oil, as Schedule I controlled substances. That decision removes any question that CBD is illegal at the federal level, a point which had been debated for years.
The perceived gray area has in the meantime resulted in a thriving industry. Non-psychoactive, but medically effective, CBD is currently sold in tinctures, gum, edibles, oil and other forms. That industry, unfortunately, appears to have been destroyed with the stroke of a pen.
Under the new regulation, marijuana extracts will have a new identification number. This is to allow the DEA and other federal agencies to track shipment of the products separately from cannabis itself, reports Justin Worland at TIME Magazine. The rule also clears up the legal consequences for dealers of CBD extract.
Many CBD merchants have assumed that cannabis-based products with less than the 0.3 percent THC that’s allowed in hemp products would be legal. That’s not the case at all, according to the DEA announcement, reports Kate McKee Simmons at Westword.
“For practical purposes, all extracts that contain CBD will also contain at least small amounts of other cannabinoids,” the DEA’s new rule states. “However, if it were possible to produce from the cannabis plant an extract that contained only CBD and no other cannabinoids, such an extract would fall within the new drug code.”
The DEA claimed the rule-making process for the new regulation “incorporated a variety of viewpoints,” but it certainly doesn’t sound like it. The claimed goal was supposedly to make the American approach to cannabis extracts “consistent with international standards.”
In announcing the change, acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg said the new code was necessary to comply with treaty provisions and “track quantities of this material separately from quantities of marihuana.” A new code, 7350, was added specifically for “Marihuana Extracts,” joining 7360, the code cannabis had already been assigned.
Companies affected have just 30 days from December 14 to do their initial paperwork. If they miss that deadline, their registration will be in violation, reports Alex Brant-Zwadzki at Weedhorn.
The Cannabis Business Alliance (CBA) on Thursday released a statement on the rescheduling. The organization, which advocates for cannabis business owners, called on the federal government to reconsider this unprecedented move which will prohibit access for patients in need across the country.
CBD is a safe, naturally occurring plant compound found in hemp as well as other common garden plants such as broccoli and kale.
“Scientific research has shown time and time again that cannabidiol, or CBD oil is therapeutic for treating countless medical conditions,” said Mark Malone, executive director of the CBA. “This is an unwarranted and erroneous move by the DEA who has proven yet again it has not kept pace with the findings of modern science.
“To put any cannabinoid, which is proven to treat ailments including seizures, epilepsy, PTSD, Crohn’s Disease and fibromyalgia, on the same level as heroin is irrational and irresponsible,” Malone said.
“This letter lumps any CBD, including CBC, CBG and CBN, under this marijuana extracts definition, making research in any cannabinoid more difficult, and creating more bureaucracies and unfair barriers for companies with cannabidiol in their products,” Malone said. “Patients will be forced to find cannabidiol from the unregulated Black Market. It is unnecessary regulation, it is outside of the DEA’s jurisdiction, and the DEA is violating the law with this letter.”
“Once again the federal government has shown that it has not caught up with modern science,” said Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA). “It’s common knowledge that CBD has numerous medical uses, including curbing the effects of epilepsy and reducing muscle inflammation from injuries. To deny that shows a complete disregard for the facts.”
According to the DEA, a new definition for a “marihuana extract,” is described as “Meaning an extract containing one or more cannabinoids that has been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis, other than the separated resin (whether crude or purified) obtained from the plant.”
The DEA is asking that all cannabis extract companies re-establish their paperwork for the newly labeled “illegal” substance by January 13, 2017 — including any CBD-specific companies and products.
CBD is non-psychoactive; unlike THC, CBD does not result in an altered state of mind. As the substance does not produce impairment or alteration, it would not seem to have a high potential for abuse. The new ruling claims that CBD has zero medical benefits, and it’s obvious to almost everyone that this is simply not true.
“This action is beyond the DEA’s authority,” said Colorado cannabis attorney Robert Hoban, adjunct professor of law at the University of Denver, reports Leafly. “The DEA can only carry out the law, they cannot create it.
“Here they’re purporting to create an entirely new category called ‘marijuana extracts,’ and by doing so wrest control over all cannabinoids,” Hoban said. “They want to call all cannabinoids illegal. But they don’t have the authority to do that.”
“This is a huge step backwards for cannabis prohibition and especially for patients who live in states without established medical cannabis laws,” said Malone. “Now is the time to come together and voice our concerns loud enough for the DEA to reconsider.”