Effective January 13, 2017, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has ruled that cannabinoid (CBD) extracts are Schedule I controlled substances, placing them on a par with restricted substances such as heroin or LSD.
This should come as little surprise, given that the DEA has long listed marijuana as a banned drug with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
This rule was created to resolve ambiguities among international drug control treaties, which classify and track illegal drugs with specific definitions and code numbers. To date, the DEA had separate codes for marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinols, but none for CBD in extract form.
This rule is likely to be a disappointment for those who have found CBD to be useful in the management of chronic pain and symptom relief, through its anti-seizure, anti-anxiety, and anti-spasmodic properties. It has been used by patients with a variety of conditions including multiple sclerosis, behavioral disorders, and pain management for cancer patients.
Manufacturers of CBD extracts have been carefully operating in a somewhat gray area prior to this ruling, but now will have to consider halting production while this ruling is appealed. Given the differences among state and federal laws and the patchwork of jurisdictions that allow marijuana for medical use, manufacturers and patients may find the effect of the DEA’s ruling to vary by location.
Technically, the most tightly controlled drugs are on Schedule IV, and all substances listed on Schedule IV are also listed on Schedule I. While cannabis and cannabis resin are dual-listed in this manner, CBD extracts are only listed on Schedule I, indicating that the DEA recognizes this product as requiring a lower level of control and leaving the door more open to the appeals process.
The new code, 7350, defines “marihuana extract” as:
“Meaning an extract 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.”
Also, in a clarification to its ruling, the DEA notes that the rule should not have “substantial direct effects on the States,” or change the current relationship between the states and the federal government. In other words, this is likely to have been more of a regulatory adjustment for bureaucratic purposes than a change in how the federal government currently approaches the use of CBD for therapeutic purposes with respect to enforcement of federal prohibition of cannabinoids in general.
Thus, as the market and regulatory environment in the U.S. is not changed by this classification of CBD, chiropractors using CBD products should stay abreast of legal developments. Chiropractic Economics will alert readers to any signification developments in this area.
Office of the Federal Register. “Establishment of a New Drug Code for Marihuana Extract.” https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/12/14/2016-29941/establishment-of-a-new-drug-code-for-marihuana-extract