by Carey Wedler, Activist Post:
News circulated recently that the DEA had rescheduled cannabidiol (CBD), the nonpsychoactive ingredient in cannabis, but the technicalities of the agency’s decision actually show their ruling is highly restrictive.
The decision concerned a recently FDA-approved pharmaceutical version of CBD, produced by GW Pharmaceuticals. Due to the federal government’s continued prohibition of cannabis, Epidiolex was prohibited from going to market unless the DEA rescheduled CBD. That’s what the agency did, leading some to believe that “since this FDA-approved medication is pure cannabidiol (CBD) that all CBD products fall into the same category,” Forbes noted.
But that is not the case. The DEA decision applies only to “FDA-approved” drugs, meaning they have just granted GW Pharmaceuticals a monopoly on plant-derived CBD (hemp-derived CBD is no longer restricted). The DEA said as much in a statement to NBC affiliate WTHR:
“What this does not do is legalize or change the status of CBD oil products,” DEA spokesperson Rusty Payne said. “As of right now, any other CBD product other than Epidiolex remains a Schedule I controlled substance, so it’s still illegal under federal law.”
“There is misunderstanding that cannabis or CBD will be immediately rescheduled, but that is not the case; it will be Epidiolex itself,” attorney Shawn Hauser told Forbes. Hauser, a senior associate with Denver-based Vicente Sederberg LLC and director of law firm’s Hemp and Cannabinoid Group, said the media had misconstrued the DEA’s decision:
What is getting scheduled is the Epidiolex itself, pursuant to the new drug application, relating to its medical efficacy and low potential for abuse. That will inform the federal law for the future. Marijuana is still a Schedule I substance; CBD is not scheduled itself, but as a substance derived from marijuana.
Despite the approval of GW Pharmaceuticals’ CBD product, under federal law, no other plant-based CBD is allowed. This prohibition is the basis of an adolescent girl’s lawsuit against the Department of Justice, through which she is fighting to be able to use her CBD medication, which she uses to treat epilepsy, in all parts of the country (as opposed to just Colorado, where her family moved from Texas in order to access it).