DEA: CBD Oil Declared Schedule 1, Claims Cannabis Product Has No Medical Benefits [Updated]

According to the DEA, CBD oil is now to be considered a Schedule 1 substance. The Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States federal agency tasked with regulating and policing controlled substances, issued the new ruling Wednesday, and it goes into effect Thursday.

(See below for updated legal information and a link to the text of the DEA memo)

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD oil, recently made Schedule 1 by the DEA, on display at a medical marijuana dispensary.
CBD Oil Displayed At A Medical Marijuana Dispensary. [Image by Carla K. Johnson/AP Images]

CBD oil, short for cannabidiol oil, is derived from the cannabis or marijuana plant. The difference in CBD oil, however, is that it is processed from hemp plants that do no contain a large amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This means that CBD oil does not have the psychoactive component that is present in other medical marijuana products, and it doesn't get you high.

CBD oil benefits patients in a variety of ways despite it's connection to the illegal cannabis plant, according to the pro-medical marijuana organization California NORML.

"CBD has nonetheless long been known to have useful anti-spasmodic, anti-epileptic, anti-anxiety, and anti-psychotic properties."
CBD oil has been used in the treatment of such conditions as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, anxiety disorders, and for pain management in cancer patients. The fact that it does not produce a "high" in patients has made it attractive for many, and particularly in the treatment of children with chronic disorders. CBD oil is sold and marketed in many forms, including as a liquid, in pills, and as capsules.

The DEA CBD Oil Ruling

The final documents on the new DEA CBD oil ruling make cannabis oil a Schedule 1 substance, according to KRCR TV. Schedule 1 status is defined by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
"Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote."
The Schedule 1 status of cannabis and marijuana has long been a point of contention between much of the public and the DEA, particularly when used for medicinal purposes. Twenty-eight states in the US, as well as the District of Columbia, have made medical marijuana legal to some degree in defiance of federal law. A number of states have also made the recreational use of cannabis legal, as in the case of Colorado, where both medical and recreational marijuana are legal, regulated, and taxed under state law.

The new DEA CBD oil ruling is an especially poignant one, in that CBD oil is specifically designed to be a medicinal product and a dietary supplement. As the substance does not produce a mind-altering state, it would not seem to have a "high potential for abuse," and case studies suggest that CBD oil does indeed have an "accepted medical use."

A crop of medical marijuana, which the DEA considers a Schedule 1 substance and can be used to produce CBD oil.
A Medical Marijuana Harvest. [Image by Seth Perlman/AP Images]

The Wednesday decision states that according to the DEA, CBD oil, and any cannabis extract falls under code 7350, a new federal code, and thus carries Schedule 1 status. The ruling is not a change in federal law, but rather a clarification of existing statutes. CBD oil manufacturers have long operated under the theory that since their product was produced from hemp, which contains a lower amount of THC than is illegal under federal guidelines, they were in legal territory at the federal level. The DEA CBD oil decision removes the ambiguity and places CBD firmly under Schedule 1.

The announcement means that CBD oil manufacturers and distributes will have to update their registrations to the new code 7350 by January 13 in the states in which it is legal to produce. It will be illegal to transport the substance over state lines, and the long-term consequences for the CBD oil industry, as well as patients who use it, is unclear.

[Update On DEA CBD Oil News]

This story can be clarified by a memo from Folium Legal Counsel. Folium issued a statement offering legal analysis of the DEA news.
This new rule does not create any new substantive regulation or law regarding the legal status of marijuana or marijuana extract. Instead, it creates a new tracking code number for "Marihuana Extracts" (which include cannabinoids). Previously, Marijuana Extracts were classified under the code number for "Marihuana. Under the new rule, extracts are now classified separately," the statement reads. "This new rule affects only DEA-registered entities who previously were required to track such materials. As the document states, "[t]he only direct effect to registrants who handle marihuana extracts will be the requirement to add the new drug code to their registrations.'"
The legal analysis goes on to explain that the DEA is not permitted to interfere with "legal state licensed cannabis business" and that the DEA has been de-funded from "pursuing any enforcement of their archaic interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in legal states."

The full text of the DEA CBD oil memo is available here.

[Featured Image by Seth Perlman/AP Images]