In the final hours of the Obama administration, the DEA officially coded CBD oil as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it has no medical use and a high potential for abuse. So, despite the fact that CBD oil often has less than 1% THC, and has proven successful in treating everything from chronic pain to epileptic seizures, the Federal government now views it in the same category as heroin and bath salts. Not only is this decision absurd, it’s also dangerous. All schedule 1 drugs are illegal in the US. Moving CBDs into the schedule 1 category makes they legally unavailable for valid medical treatments. And the kicker is that the DEA doesn’t have the power to make drug laws. Only Congress can do that. So what’s the deal here?
The DEA is trying to play the change off as simple bureaucratic business. According to DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg, the new code was enacted so they could track CBD research separately from marijuana research and bring the US into compliance with international drug-control treaties. There’s nothing nefarious going on here, folks. The problem with that response is it ignores the fact that a previously legal medicine is now illegal on a Federal level. And they did it through a backdoor maneuver. As Debra Borchardt wrote in Forbes, “Ultimately, the DEA can’t create new laws, they can only enforce existing laws created by Congress. However, by making an administrative change, like updating codes, they can then include a product that hadn’t been defined or included before.” Lumping CBDs into marijuana’s Schedule 1 classification essentially outlaws all cannabinoid oil without going through the proper channels.
But CBD’s classification as a Schedule 1 drug isn’t as cut and dried as the DEA would like us to think. For the next two months, state laws still cover medical marijuana patients thanks to the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment. The amendment,which expires yearly and needs to be renewed again in April, prohibits the Justice Department from using Federal funds to disrupt state medical cannabis laws. And producers of CBD products are fighting for the right to create and import cannabinoid oil. On January 13, the Hemp Industries Association, Centuria Natural Foods and RMH Holdings LLC filed a judicial review action against the DEA. They claim the agency had no right to enact law by classifying CBDs as a Schedule 1 drug. There’s a good chance the DEA will file a motion to dismiss but the lawyers involved say they feel confident they can prove the DEA overstepped it’s authority. The case should be resolved in the next six months.
For the time being, medical marijuana patients that rely on CBD oils find themselves in a grey zone. If they live in a medical marijuana state, they’re allowed to use CBDs but the people they get them from have no legal protection. Hopefully the current case against the DEA will be successful. CBDs were on track to become a billion dollar industry by 2020, which surely underscores our nation’s demand for legal protections for cannabinoid oil.