A three judge panel in the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco sided with the Drug Enforcement Agency, refusing to reschedule CBD (cannabidiol) or acknowledge its medical benefits. The Hemp group that sued vowed to fund an appeal. What does it all mean? States that have medical marijuana laws are all still technically violating federal law. CBD is only allowed to be sold in states where there are laws allowing it. It doesn’t really change the way most hemp industry businesses will operate, however, it does pose a risk like 280E now applying to CBD companies and the potential for raids or shut downs.
States that have acknowledged CBD as a separate scheduling are far ahead of the game. It seems like the federal government is just waiting for the FDA’s approval of Epidiolex to give GW Pharmaceuticals the head start for CBD distribution. Even with this new reinforced opinion from the feds and DEA, GW Pharma has passed a law in Colorado that allows the scary Schedule I CBD drug to be sold in pharmacies. It seems odd that the majority of states believe cannabis has medical benefits but the federal government says CBD doesn’t have any medical benefit at all when they own the patent on CBD.
The case began in 2016, when the DEA issued a “clarifying rule” stating that CBD is an illegal drug, because it is extracted from marijuana flowers. Hemp producers went up in arms, arguing that CBD can also be extracted from legal hemp flowers, and there is no way to tell whether extracted CBD came from marijuana or from hemp.
The DEA scoffed at the suggestion that CBD is being made from anything but flowering parts of the cannabis plant. They said, “cannabinoids are found in the parts of the cannabis plant that fall within the definition of marijuana, such as the flowering tops, resin and leaves.”
The court’s decision means that the DEA was within its authority to clarify CBD as a “marijuana extract.”
The court did in fact acknowledge that the U.S. 2014 Farm Bill allows states to grow hemp, giving CBD producers some protection if they can prove their products were legally produced.
B. Le Grand