Do you use CBD extract and live in a state without legal medical marijuana? You may not be able to get it for much longer. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a rule this week that clarifies its position that any product containing cannabinoids is illegal and is a Schedule 1 substance with the likes of LSD, heroin, MDMA, and, of course, cannabis.
That may mean the DEA and other federal law enforcement agencies could go after businesses that ship CBD products across state lines. That could include the many CBD-based e-liquids that have become very popular in the last couple years.
CBD is a nickname for cannabidiol, one of several active chemical compounds called cannabinoids that are found in plants of the genus Cannabis. Unlike its famous cousin tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is non-psychoactive. It doesn’t induce sensations of euphoria. CBD has shown great promise as a treatment for many disorders, including anxiety, epilepsy and cancer.
However, even though most CBD is extracted from low-THC varieties of hemp (which is cannabis), the DEA considers any product of a cannabis plant to be an illegal Schedule 1 narcotic. This week’s rule reaffirms that position. The agency doesn’t consider hemp-derived products any less illegal than extracts from high-THC cannabis plants.
The DEA rule comes two months after the United Kingdom reclassified CBD as a medicine, largely eliminating the consumer CBD market there.
Coming soon: uncertainty
Colorado attorney Robert Hoban, adjunct professor of law at the University of Denver, told Leafly that the rule itself is illegal. “This action is beyond the DEA’s authority,” Hoban explained. “The DEA can only carry out the law, they cannot create it. Here they’re purporting to create an entirely new category called ‘marijuana extracts,’ and by doing so wrest control over all cannabinoids. They want to call all cannabinoids illegal. But they don’t have the authority to do that.”
But vapers know that questioning a federal agency’s authority to make rules is one thing, and beating them in court is something else entirely. The DEA apparently intends to proceed under the assumption that its rule is the law of the land.
After several years of the Obama administration’s mostly hands-off approach to federal cannabis enforcement in states that have provisions for legal medical or recreational use, cannabis users face uncertainty next year. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, is known as a staunch opponent of any kind of drug use, and has specifically denounced legalized marijuana. No one knows if Trump will turn Sessions loose to clamp down on the cannabis industry.