Why Did the DEA declare CBD a Schedule 1 Drug?

CBD Classified as a Schedule 1 Drug by USA

Last December when the DEA clarified that it considered CBD extracts to be a Schedule 1 drug, many in the industry were shocked. This is because the FDA had already declared CBD facts to have beneficial uses, which would automatically preclude its inclusion in the Schedule 1 drug list. But the reasoning behind the DEA’s clarification made CBD’s status a little more clear—almost as clear as mud.

In the DEA’s letter, dated December 14, 2017, it stated “For practical purposes, all extracts that contain CBD will also contain at least small amounts of other cannabinoids.” Since it is understood that consumers cannot get high from such small amounts of other cannabinoids, the community responded with the accusation that the DEA is using technicalities to prevent our use of CBD’s as a health product. In response, the DEA argued that CBD’s classification as a Schedule 1 substance is merely a procedural requirement that allows it to track the substance in compliance with international treaties.

To this point, it the DEA has established a separate code for marijuana extract that contains more than one cannabinol as opposed to a single cannabinol. This would theoretically allow any manufacturer that could produce the substance as a single compound to be subject to different rules, but it is a largely useless point to any but a synthetic drug producer. This is because, as stated above, it’s nearly impossible to extract CBD from hemp without extracting other substances as well, even if it is only in barely measurable amounts.

What Does This Mean?
Basically, all CBD oil statistics are now considered to be completely illegal and subject to all of the legal penalties for those who both distribute it and consume it. These penalties include loss of access to Federal Financial Aid for school, enormous fines and yes, jail time-jail time that is just as stiff for non-psychoactive CBD as it is for heroin. Even more surprising is the fact that non-psychoactive CBD is considered more dangerous than methamphetamine according to the DEA’s drug schedule.

This is alarming both consumers and providers alike because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been pushing for harsher penalties and stricter enforcement of our already draconian drug laws which have been rightfully criticized for disproportionate targeting of minority communities.

Who Is Most Harmed by These Technicalities?
To many, the classification and consequent penalties of CBD is nothing more than an abstract consideration since it doesn’t affect their daily lives. What they do not know is that they likely already know someone who is using CBD to treat a chronic illness such as anxiety, PTSD, pain, seizures and other severe disorders. Therefore, those who are hurt most by the FED’s rules are the patients who must now make the choice between risking jail time at the hands of an overzealous US Attorney General and treating possibly life-threatening conditions.

Those who wish to research CBD’s many benefits face increased risks now as well. Desire to research CBD has grown exponentially as it became clear to the medical community that CBD has massive benefits and comparatively few side-effects. The patchwork of overreaching bureaucracy and hurdles is delaying this vital research—research that could improve and even save countless lives.

Where Does the FDA Stand?
The FDA clearly understands the fact that CBD has been shown to be beneficial, as it stated in the August 14, 2017 Federal Register (Vol. 82, No. 155). This would seem to put the FDA at direct odds with the DEA since a Schedule 1 substance is considered to have no medical value and to be highly addictive. Of course, it is well-known that CBD is neither.

It could be that the Feds are waiting for a ruling from the United Nations that will allow them to declassify CBD without breaking previously-established international treaties. To this end, they accepted comments on a Federal website from the general public to share at the UN’s upcoming meeting in November on the topic.

Where Do the States Stand?
We will have to wait until November to see both what the UN will do and what the Federal response will be once they have made their decision. Meanwhile, states that allow recreational or medical use are not simply spinning their wheels. They are concentrating on tackling their opioid and prescription drug crisis instead. In fact, some states have gone so far as to propose legislative road blocks for Federal enforcement. For instance, some California lawmakers have introduced legislation to protect their own citizens from Federal prosecution by forbidding cooperation with Federal authorities for cannabis related charges.

Since over half of our states now allow the legal use of CBD and even the psychoactive cannabis derivatives like THC, the hope of the community is that the Federal government will see the error of their ways and officially remove CBD and all other beneficial cannabis compounds from the Schedule 1 drug list.