The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently clarified that not all compounds of cannabis fall under the Controlled Substances Act. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid – used for pain, anxiety, seizures, sleeping disorders, inflammation, and skin irritation. But does this announcement settle the CBD issue?

Last month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (California) upheld cannabidiol or CBD’s status as a controlled substance. The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) challenged the DEA’s controlled substance ruling on CBD. The rule in question referred to a code the DEA had established for CBD. The HIA said the DEA was overstepping in its authority because CBD is not listed in the Controlled Substances Act. Additionally, the HIA argued that the 2014 federal Farm Bill protects CBD. The Court disagreed. Additionally, because the HIA, nor any other industry members came forth when the DEA’s rule-making process took place last year, their chance to contest has passed.

But is the Entire Thing Just Being Overblown?

The DEA’s ruling in 2016 actually did not “reclassify” CBD as a Schedule I drug. Wait…come again? The entire purpose of the DEA’s ruling was to actually clarify the rule regarding CBD and other extracts – because these are not covered by the classification given to cannabis. So, basically, nothing has changed…which essentially is a positive.

Encouraging Research?

CBD Contains No THC. By differentiating between cannabis products that contain THC and extracts that don’t, the DEA hopes to encourage medical studies of the substances – furthering their useful and legal use in society.

“From a practical standpoint, we are giving priority, actually, to those researchers who are conducting research with marijuana extracts, [which] the internal code will allow us to track and prioritize.”

DEA spokesperson Russ Baer , December 2016.

Additionally, the Ninth Circuit Court recognized the legal right to grow industrial hemp – under the 2014 Farm Bill. The law stipulates that the hemp must contain no more than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Fed Crackdown on CBD Unlikely

But what about pesticides and other contaminants? The industry continues to discuss how to reduce the use of dangerous pesticides when growing hemp. Generally, marijuana naturally contains a higher amount of CBD. Hemp does not. Thus, encouraging potentially dangerous growing agents.

The DEA’s Decision Means Business as Usual

The DEA’s May 22nd directive reads that, “Products and materials that are made from the cannabis plant and which fall outside the CSA definition of marijuana (such as sterilized seeds, oil or cake made from the seeds, and mature stalks) are not controlled under the CSA.”

“Such products may accordingly be sold and otherwise distributed throughout the United States without restriction under the CSA or its implementing regulations.”

A product containing cannabinoids does not immediately mean the DEA regards it as a controlled substance. “Whether the substance falls within the CSA definition of marijuana,” is most critical. CBD is still formally listed on the CSA. But this announcement means the industry has unofficially, officially given it a nod of approval.

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