Hold On! The DEA’s Move Against CBD May Not Be Legal
The DEA’s attempt to criminalize the status of cannabidiol (CBD) earlier this week has thrown the cannabis industry into an uproar. Hundreds of thousands of patients around the country rely on non-psychoactive CBD products to manage pain, inflammation, seizures, and other medical conditions. Hemp-derived CBD oil was, and continues to be, sold openly in American markets.
The DEA’s notice in the Federal Register on Wednesday, however, sent that entire industry sector into turmoil. The rule creates “unfair barriers for companies with cannabidiol in their products,” said Mark Malone, executive director of the Cannabis Business Alliance. “Patients will be forced to find cannabidiol from the unregulated black market.” Leah Heise, CEO of Women Grow, said the rule “has the potential to inflict substantial harm to a legitimate industry that has been operating legally worldwide for over a decade.”
The DEA tried this before. In 2001 it tried to ban hempseed oil. And Doc Bronner kicked the agency’s butt in court.
Cloaked in the guise of a bureaucratic technicality, DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg made an aggressive bid to wrap CBD into the Controlled Substances Act as a federally illegal Schedule I drug. You can read more about the rule’s specifics here.
To recap: The DEA introduced a new drug code for “marihuana extracts.” In the course of doing so, Rosenberg paused to consider the question of non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD). Rosenberg made it clear that the DEA considers all CBD to be illegal simply because it’s derived from a plant of the genus Cannabis.
Over the past 48 hours, attorneys and legal scholars (and entrepreneur/activists like Harborside Health founder Steve DeAngelo, above) have pushed back with force. Many are arguing that the DEA’s move is a clear instance of illegal agency overreach. It’s a move that the same agency tried 15 years ago, in fact. And that attempt was ultimately slapped down by federal courts.