The marijuana world was up in arms recently after the DEA did some housekeeping on its CBD position, confirming that the cannabinoid was a Schedule I substances. Cannabis activists thought the DEA was unleashing a fresh attack on them, but the reality is the administration was merely confirming the status quo.
The mainstream media didn’t help with their vague, often incomplete reporting of the events. The key fact to remember is that federal law has remained unchanged – CBD has been classed as Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act for as long as ‘marihuana’.
The change was much more subtle: the DEA set-up a new code for cannabis extracts like CBD, so that these specific compounds – used for medical marijuana products – can be better tracked internally.
The move, which was made public in the Federal Register, was unexpected and hence struck as sudden, but the DEA claims that it has been working to achieve this for five years. The agency also refuted accusations that more specific clarification on cannabis extracts was brought into make it harder for the medical marijuana to succeed – in fact, they say the new structure will be good for research.
The DEA wants to prioritize “researchers who are conducting research with marijuana extracts” by tracking them better, said DEA spokesman Russ Baer in an interview with U.S. News & World Report.
Encouragingly, Baer mentioned that there were “promising” studies hinting at the true medical potential of certain cannabis extracts, and that the DEA wants to “support that ongoing scientific research”.
The DEA has had specific code referring to extracts involving psychoactive cannabinoid THC for years, and is only just catching up with CBD. Until recently, CBD extracts and other non-THC cannabis extracts were largely discarded, since recreational and medical eyes were locked on the psychoactive compound.
Interestingly, federal law doesn’t actually ban the entire marijuana plant – this complication is one reason why marijuana legislation so confusing. So what isn’t included in the DEA’s definition of marijuana?
Since 2004, the DEA has been unable to seize products processed from stalks, such as hemp oil, after losing a case in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The result: the importation of hemp products from continental Europe that have tiny concentrations of THC.
Some are worried that the DEA is trying to trick marijuana advocates by appearing to give a concession (speeding up research programs), but is really seeking revenge for that defeat in 2004. However, others are less concerned of a conspiracy.
Medical Marijuana Inc. CEO Dr Stuart Titus said that the amendment to the DEA’s Federal Registry concerning marijuana extracts would have no impact on his company’s hemp oil products, which contain CBD and other marijuana cannabinoids (except THC), terpenes and compounds.
If Titus is comfortable enough, then there’s no reason for the average consumer to fret over the DEA. With the DEA’s past actions, understandably people were going to be sceptical, but even those the changes will directly impact are in favor and positive that it will help improve research into CBD and other compounds.
More and more states are getting CBD-only legislation, so it’s in the public interest that more research into this alternative medicine is conducted so doctors and patients can best determine how to use it.
So all the talk of a march on the DEA to protest against new restrictive marijuana measures was just a little bit premature. Instead, the Federal Registry amendment is proving to be a popular and helpful change to the marijuana community. Anything that helps to make cannabis medicine an accessible choice is a good thing.