CANNAINVESTOR Magazine December / January 2016 - Page 138

This rule is to control all naturally occurring cannabinoids from the cannabis plant, both what we refer to in the U.S. as marijuana as well as industrial hemp.

It’s important to note that cannabinoids are not defined under the Controlled Substances Act. But, despite this, the DEA has taken the position that all cannabinoids, including CBD derived from industrial hemp, are illegal under the CSA.

Russ Baer, a DEA spokesman, indicated that the agency’s action was primarily an administrative move and didn’t indicate any change in policy. HIs statement has been viewed with a great deal of skepticism by those in America’s hemp and CBD industries.

While the commercial sale of CBD will clearly become illegal under federal law, even though one could argue that its commercial sale has been illegal under the Farm Bill, this new rule doesn’t change the DEA’s priority regarding its enforcement priorities. The prosecution of extractors or processors of the non-psychoactive CBD derived from industrial hemp is clearly not a priority for the agency, although obviously, that could change.

The DEA indicated that having a new code number for cannabinoid extracts, including CBD, will enable it to better track quantities of extracts, separately from quantities of marijuana. The DEA stated, “This code number will allow DEA and DEA-registered entities to track quantities of the material separately from quantities of marihuana. This, in turn, will aid in complying with relevant treaty provisions.”

America’s expanding industrial hemp industry is worried and it should be. Although cannabidiol or CBD, a non-psychoactive substance, can be extracted from industrial hemp, it will now be firmly categorized as a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

The industry has raised the question of whether the DEA has any legitimate authority to create a category for extracts under the Controlled Substances Act. At this time the answer is unknown.

Legally, the status of industrial hemp is complicated and will remain so until and unless this DEA action is reversed or overturned in court. This rule could have a potentially disastrous effect on America’s relatively new, but fast-growing industrial hemp and CBD industries.