On December 14, the Drug Enforcement Administration added a new code for marijuana extracts and made it clear that such extracts, including CBD oil, are illegal.
Although this does not represent a change in federal law, many CBD producers have operated under the assumption that cannabis-based products with less than the 0.3 THC percentage that's allowed in hemp would be legal. But that's not the case, according to this DEA announcement.
Here's the DEA's new definition of marijuana extract that was posted in the Federal Register: "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."
This means that any extract of the plant falls under the Schedule I classification, along with the THC portion of the plant that gets users high. It also applies to CBD products derived from hemp. In fact, according to the posting, the classification applies to all "extracts that have been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis."
California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, and Colorado followed in 2000, when voters passed Amendment 20 and legalized limited amounts of medical marijuana for patients and their primary caregivers. As of September of this year, there are 102,620 registered medical patients in the State of Colorado and 1,444,069 registered patients around the country, according to data compiled by the Marijuana Policy Project. Many of them use medicine based on marijuana extracts.
"Once again, the federal government has shown that it has not caught up with modern science," says Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association. "It's common knowledge that CBD has numerous medical uses, including curbing the effects of epilepsy and reducing muscle inflammation from injuries. To deny that shows a complete disregard for the facts."
According to the Federal Register entry, the clarification was made to bring the United States into compliance with international drug-law treaties. "Some differences exist between the regulatory controls pertaining to marihuana extract versus those for marihuana and tetrahydrocannabinols," the entry reads. "The DEA has previously established separate code numbers for marihuana and for tetrahydrocannabinols, but not for marihuana extract."
In announcing the change, Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg said the new code was necessary to comply with treaty provisions and "track quantities of this material separately from quantities of marihuana."
Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana was given a code: 7360. This update creates a new code, 7350, specifically for a "Marihuana Extract." Any entity that handles marijuana must continue to register under 7360. But now, any entity that solely handles marijuana extracts will have to modify its registration under 7350 and update that registration annually.
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And those affected have only thirty days from December 14 to do the initial paperwork. If they fail to meet the deadline, their registration will be in violation, according to pot-news purveyor Weedhorn.
"This is a misguided and, frankly, ignorant move by the DEA," says Jeffrey Zucker, president and co-founder of Denver-based Green Lion Partners. "CBD does nothing but help people, and to put it on a level with heroin is absurd. Hopefully the backlash will be extreme enough for them to reconsider, as the only group this ruling helps is the pharmaceutical industry."
While marijuana extracts, like marijuana itself, will remain legal within Colorado state lines, businesses here that create or sell CBD products will still have to register with the feds under the new code.