DEA CBD Oil Schedule 1 Memo, Kratom Ban Ignore Potential Medical Benefits

The recent DEA CBD oil memo and planned kratom ban ignore the potential medical benefits of those substances and do not serve the pubic interest. The Drug Enforcement Administration has overstepped itself in taking these measures, and the only people who benefit from the decisions are the big pharmaceutical companies.

Recently, the DEA reaffirmed the CBD oil Schedule 1 status, as previously reported by the Inquisitr. The DEA CBD oil memo did not actually make any substantial changes to law, but clarified the position of the Drug Enforcement Administration on cannabis extracts like CBD oil and signals how the substance will be handled. Legal analysis from Folium Legal Counsel reveals the fine points of the new DEA memo.

“Regarding the legal status of CBD derived from industrial hemp: The 2014 US Farm Bill was an act of congress signed by the president and that is the highest law of the land. The DEA cannot make law and try to redefine a law passed by the US Congress which defined industrial hemp in section 7606 as ‘Any cannabis sativa L that produces naturally less than.3% THC on a dry weight basis.’ Furthermore, the DEA is not allowed to interfere with a legal state licensed cannabis business.”

This is encouraging for the producers of CBD oil and other cannabis extracts in legal states, but still leaves a good deal of grey area. For example, it is unclear if this means that CBD oil will be legal to ship across state lines. Cannabis extracts that are derived from cannabis plants that contain above the 0.3 percent allowable limit may still be federally illegal. In short, the DEA has clarified their position, but this clarification leaves the position of CBD oil producers and retailers unclear, besides having to update their registration codes by January 13 2017.

The planned DEA kratom ban is also a matter of concern. The DEA announced that they would make the herbal supplement kratom Schedule 1 September 30, but postponed the decision amidst public outcry. To their credit, the DEA opened the discussion up for a public comment period which ended December 1. Tens of thousands of people responded to oppose the kratom ban, and the final decision has not been handed down.

The problem with both the DEA CBD oil Schedule 1 decision and the kratom ban is the nature of Schedule 1 status. The DEA website outlines what Schedule 1 means.

“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 problematical line in the DEA definition is “no currently accepted medical use.” Many states have now, in the face of scientific evidence, made at least the medical use of cannabis, and CBD oil, legal. There is also evidence that kratom has significant medical benefits.

A woman holds a syringe full of a CBD oil product, which has been affirmed to be DEA Schedule 1 status.
CBD Oil Product, Given DEA Schedule 1 Status [Image by Brennan Linsley/AP Images]

What Are Some CBD Oil Benefits?

CBD oil, or cannabidiol oil, is derived from the cannabis or marijuana plant. The difference in CBD oil from the “drug” or recreational form of marijuana, however, is that it is processed from hemp plants that do not contain a large amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Thus, CBD oil does not have the psychoactive component that is present in other medical marijuana products. It also falls under the threshold outlined earlier, in that it is produced from cannabis plants that contain less then 0.3 percent THC. The cannabis advocacy group California NORML discusses CBD oil benefits and the difference between the cannabis extract and other marijuana products.

“CBD has long been overshadowed by delta-9-THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary active ingredient in marijuana, because unlike THC, it does not produce a psychoactive “high.” CBD has nonetheless long been known to have useful anti-spasmodic, anti-epileptic, anti-anxiety, and anti-psychotic properties.”

California NORML goes on to discuss the case of 5-year-old Charlotte Figi, who suffered continual epileptic seizures due to being afflicted by a rare condition. Figi showed vast improvement after her parents and doctors began treating her with CBD oil. CBD has been used in the treatment of many people, especially children, who suffer from forms of epilepsy, as well as in the treatment of anxiety and mental disorders. The medical benefits of cannabis products and CBD oil seem to have vast medical potential, especially when compared to the side effects of comparable pharmaceutical products.

What Are Some Kratom Benefits?

Though the medical benefits of cannabis and marijuana products have been studied extensively, kratom is an herbal supplement that has not had as much exposure or scrutiny. Nonetheless, kratom has been shown to have potential medical benefits.

Kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa, is a species of plant in the evergreen family native to Southeast Asia and Malaysia. The plant has both stimulant and opioid properties when ingested, and has been used in traditional medicine by indigenous peoples in its native areas since antiquity.

Kratom has been used in recent times as a supplement to treat anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, and opiate addiction. This last use is especially vital in the United States today, as the use of opiate drugs, largely inspired by the over-prescription of opiate pain medications like Oxycontin, has become a deadly epidemic. Wired discussed the kratom ban and the opiate epidemic in a recent piece.

“In 2014, overdoses from heroin or prescription opioids killed 30,000 people—four times as many than in 1999. Today, 3,900 new people start using prescription opioids for non-medical purposes every day. Almost 600 start taking heroin. The yearly health and social costs of the prescription opioid crisis in America? $55 billion.”

The piece went on to detail the experience of opiate addicts who used kratom to kick their habit. This is a medical benefit that should be studied and tested, but often, opiate users are marginalized in modern society. Other uses, and anecdotal stories, can be found among the thousands of comments sent in during the DEA public opinion period, some of them from people that are far from stereotypical “drug users.”

“I am [a] 62 yrs old veteran and have suffered from Depression, anxiety & PTSD all my life,” read one comment. “If kratom is banned by the DEA my quality of life will decrease tremendously.”

A cannabis plant, which can be used to produce CBD oil. The DEA has give CBD oil Schedule 1 status.
A Cannabis Plant Grown For Medical Purposes [Image by Jeff Barnard/AP Images]

Kratom is also used in the treatment of chronic pain resulting from a variety of medical conditions. DEA Schedule 1 status would not seem to be appropriate for it; rather further study and research is needed to determine possible medical benefits.

The DEA CBD oil Schedule 1 memo and kratom ban do not seem to be in the public interest, or even to be in the spirit of Schedule 1 itself; given the evidence, these supplements do indeed seem to have “medical use” with little enough “potential for abuse,” especially in comparison to pharmaceutical products for pain, which have a proven and massive potential for abuse.

The DEA should not favor the big pharmaceutical companies, and instead perform duties that serve the public interest: allow CBD oil and kratom to be studied and used by patients. Schedule 1 status for CBD oil and kratom only hinders progress in identifying new medical benefits, benefits that may be greater than those offered by traditional products which are sold by Big Pharma. If the DEA truly wishes to serve the American people, they should not give CBD oil and kratom Schedule 1 status.

[Featured Image by Seth Perlman/AP Images]