The Drug Enforcement Administration has moved to make a formal distinction between marijuana and its extracts, CBD will remain listed alongside heroin in the most restrictive category of drugs under federal law. The Wednesday decision states that according to the DEA, CBD oil, and any cannabis extract falls under code 7350, a new federal code, and thus carries Schedule 1 status.

The Internet was in a tizzy yesterday, with people predicting massive loss of jobs and unprecedented federal government interference in the cannabis industry – but will their decision and small change to the current DEA drug schedule really make any difference for the cannabis industry at large? It’s hard to know, but the cannabis industry has been shaken up by the prospect. My main worry is the way the DEA just snuck that provision in there, changing the wording and the basically the laws concerning CBD oil without letting anyone else know. Yeah, sneaky, isn’t it? What’s to stop them from doing that again, exactly? Was the big to-do this summer over whether or not to legalize cannabis federally just a smoke screen to allow the DEA to enact this new law?

How Did the DEA Change Federal Law on CBD Oil?

DEA MArijuanaThe DEA changed the federal law, but we’re not yet sure what the ultimate effects will be. Here’s what they did: (and you can read it yourself here) the DEA (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) established a new drug code for “marihuana extract” in cooperation with the Department of Justice (yep, that’s one of the organizations that Mr. Jeff Sessions is slated to have final say over in the new Trump administration) have created a new Administration Controlled Substances Number for marijuana extracts (CBD oils, hemp oils, and other marijuana extract-based products like shatter and hash, I’m assuming). The intent is for the DEA to be able to track extracts separately from marijuana itself. Specifically and in legalese, “Meaning a cannabis extract containing one or more cannabinoids that has been derived from any” cannabis plant” and excepting crude or purified resin. According to Robert Hoban of New Cannabis Ventures, this law would officially outlaw the previously undefined products of 80-plus cannabinoids such as CBD (cannabidiol), CBN (cannabinol), and CBG (cannabigerol). “It’s an internal accounting mechanism for us,” DEA spokesperson Russell Baer told VICE News. “The purpose is to drill down and get more accurate information about research that’s being conducted with CBD in particular.” These are the important ingredients in many cannabis oils with low-THC that are used for childhood epilepsy and other medical concerns.

The CSA’s Problematic THC Definition

Another thing the cannabis industry needs to be worried about is the Controlled Substances Act’s (CSA) definition of THC – it only includes regulation of synthetic versions of THC and natural THC; non-psychoactive THC products like hemp oil should not be regulated by the DEA under current law – it looks like that has just changed. In the past, federal courts have ruled that defining marijuana and marijuana extracts is unlawful and unnecessary, but it seems the DEA has pushed the idea through despite this. They are trying to gain some control over prosecuting the brave new world of cannabis oils, which were previously expressly excluded under the CSA. While there is no doubt about the reason behind the DEA’s language change in the CSA, we will see how the government intends to enact the law, if at all. It seems unlikely that they would have made this change unless they intended to use it to prosecute the cannabis oil industry in some way. What does this mean for the millions of patients who consume cannabis oil for their illnesses and symptoms? We will keep an eye on this story and keep you updated as more news comes in. In the meantime, you’re welcome to email or call (202-307-1000 or 800-882-9539) the DEA and let them know what you think of the new ruling.

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