During the chaos of the holiday season, many people might have missed what turned out to be a significant announcement by the Drug Enforcement Administration concerning marijuana extracts, including cannabidiol, or CBD.
For those unfamiliar with CBD, it's one of the naturally occurring and primary active chemical compounds in marijuana that, unlike its more widely known counterpart tetrahydrocannabinol (i.e., THC), doesn't produce a hallucinogenic effect. Indeed, it's being increasingly utilized in scientific research as a possible treatment for everything from cancer and chronic pain to epilepsy and muscle inflammation.
What exactly did the DEA do?
Back on December 14, the DEA published a notice in the Federal Register providing a new and more expansive definition of marijuana extracts in an attempt to formally distinguish them from marijuana.
Specifically, the definition classifies a marijuana extract as one "containing one or more cannabinoids that has been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis, other than the separated resin (whether crude or purified) obtained from the plant."
The notice also provided marijuana extracts with their own code, 7350, under the federal Controlled Substances Act, meaning any entity that deals exclusively in these products must register with the DEA using this number.
Why did the DEA do this?
According to the DEA, the move was undertaken to improve compliance with international drug treaties and, more significantly, to help the agency better track the substance in research efforts and better distinguish it from marijuana. Indeed, one official referred to it as an "internal accounting mechanism."
What does this means in terms of legality?
In terms of legality, nothing has really changed concerning marijuana or marijuana extracts. The new entry for marijuana extracts makes it clear that substances like CBD are still classified as schedule I controlled substances, meaning they are viewed as having no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
Opponents have voiced concerns, however, that this expansion of marijuana regulation will serve to adversely affect cannabis-based industries.
What does this mean on a state level?
While the DEA's notice makes it clear that CBD and other marijuana extracts are illegal under federal law, it has no impact on those states where these substances have been legalized. In other words, no real change will take place at the state level.
It will be interesting to see if the federal government's stance toward marijuana undergoes a radical transformation in the coming years …
Consider speaking with a skilled legal professional if you are facing federal drug charges relating to the cultivation and/or distribution of marijuana as the stakes are simply too high.