THE SKY’S NOT FALLING! MEDIA MISREPORTING DEA ON CBD “ILLEGALITY”
BY JEFFREY STAMBERGER HEMP NEWS DECEMBER 16, 2016
The media has been set ablaze following the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Dec. 14 announcement, “Establishment of a New Drug Code for Marihuana Extract”, which listed new rules for those working with cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabis extracts.
The changing of language in the Federal Register means that the DEA has created a new code for “marihuana extracts” – 7350 – that’s separate from the code that had already been established for marijuana – 7360. Any entity that handles extracts from here on out must register under the new code so that the DEA can track things like concentrates and oils separately from marijuana flower.
Unfortunately, most of the media outlets have been misreporting the story, with outrageous headlines like “New DEA Rule Says That CBD Is Really, Truly, No-Joke Illegal.” After initially claiming that the DEA’s announcement means that all cannabis extracts, including cannabidiol (CBD), are now illegal, The Huffington Post was forced to yank their “DEA Upends the Marijuana Industry for the Holidays” story completely.
The DEA’s new rule, thankfully, does not mean that it will begin interfering with the hemp industry.
“This action is beyond the DEA’s authority,” Robert Hoban, a Colorado cannabis attorney and adjunct professor of law at the University of Denver, told Leafly. “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.”
Medical Marijuana, Inc., along with its subsidiary company, HempMeds, created the first-ever “CBD pipeline” into the United States, offering the US market a wide range of cannabis and CBD products legally across all 50 states.
In a statement made Wednesday, Medical Marijuana, Inc. CEO Stuart Titus said:
“Medical Marijuana, Inc. is pleased to announce that the DEA Federal Registry amendment to create a new code for ‘marijuana extracts,’ in no way affects the Company’s hemp oil, containing naturally occurring cannabinoids, including CBD, or its operations.
In the past, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has conclusively held that hemp products, such as those marketed by the Company, which are derived from the part of the Cannabis plant which is exempt from the Controlled Substances Act, is legal for import from Europe.
In the Ninth Circuit case that served to uphold the legality of the Company’s products, the Court struck rules that had been promulgated by the DEA that would have made the Company’s products a scheduled substance and the Court permanently enjoined the DEA from enforcing the stricken rules.
There has been no superseding ruling since the Ninth Circuit’s decision. Therefore, the Company’s products continue to be legal and are not controlled substances. Accordingly, the legality of Medical Marijuana, Inc.’s products remains unchanged in light of this new Federal Registry.\
Further, our Company considers the development a major market opportunity, as we have analyzed and followed the chain of custody of our products from inception to ensure that they are derived from the exempt parts of the Cannabis plant and are therefore not controlled substances.”
The executive director of the Hemp Industry Association, Eric Steenstra, agrees that the new rule doesn’t change anything regarding the legality status of CBD.
“These codes just help the DEA with record-keeping,” Steenstra told Ganjapreneur. “But that’s not going to result in any kind of enforcement action.”
In an email to The Cannabist on Thursday, DEA spokesman Russ Baer confirmed that the rule notice is primarily an administrative move:
The gist of the issue is that DEA established a new drug code for marihuana extracts as a means to more accurately reflect the activities of scientific research and provide more consistent adherence to the requirements of the Single Convention. We have not changed any control status with this Federal Register Notice. Everything remains schedule I, so no other provisions of the law (registration, security requirements, research protocols, etc.) change. Companies will simple [sic] use a new code for extracts.
Later, in a follow-up phone interview Baer reiterated to The Cannabist that the move allows the DEA to more accurately track elements such as scientific and medical studies, as researchers use the codes to identify which substance they’re examining.
“[The rule change] recognizes that there is a potential medical benefit to some of the cannabinoids,” he told The Cannabist.
So while the DEA’s notice in the Federal Register sent the cannabis industry into a frenzy earlier this week, it appears that the administration isn’t interested in taking on cannabinoids, CBD, and hemp. Additionally, everyone can rest assured that for the DEA to really schedule hemp and its CBD extracts, it would have to follow the established rules of going through Congress.