A cannabidiol hemp oil that Leafly says is used by "hundreds of thousands of patients" in the US for a variety of medical purposes, including to help relieve seizures, has been designated a Schedule 1 drug by the DEA, 7NEWS reports. Schedule 1 drugs (which are illegal and include LSD and heroin) are said to have "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse." The announcement published in the Federal Register last week details the new ruling for CBD, which sets aside a new code number for "marihuana extract" and pertains to any "extract containing one or more cannabinoids ... derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis." This decision came despite the fact that CBD from hemp—cannabis with no more than between 0.3% and 1% of the active ingredient THC—has been widely available up till now via mail order and the internet.
Companies selling it have been operating under assumed legality because of CBD's low THC levels, Leafly notes—an apparently murky area. The DEA made a similar move in 2001 when it failed in an attempt to ban all hemp products. Leafly lays out the legalese surrounding CBD products and how it thinks patients could avoid prosecution in the 28 medical marijuana states and DC. "The DEA cannot create a statute," a lawyer specializing in cannabis law tells Leafly. "That can only be done by Congress." The DEA notes it created the regulation to comply with international drug treaties, per the Marijuana Resources blog. "This is a misguided and, frankly, ignorant move by the DEA," says Jeffrey Zucker, co-founder of a strategy firm for the cannabis industry. "CBD does nothing but help people, and to put it on a level with heroin is absurd." (Why hemp is "poorly understood.")