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Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Curious Case of Cannabidiol


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For true marijuana connoisseurs, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) isn’t the only thing in marijuana about which to rave. There’s also the increasingly popular cannabidiol (CBD) part of the plant. CBD is a compound in marijuana with mild to no psychoactive effect. It is frequently used to prevent seizures and there also have been some promising studies regarding its ability to treat brain injuries. CBD’s market potential is growing rapidly, but its legal status is uncertain.
Many companies claim to be able to sell and ship medical-grade CBD anywhere in the U.S. via the internet. For more on this, go herehere, and here. But is CBD actually legal under federal law so as to allow for what otherwise appears to be interstate drug trafficking? It all depends on where the CBD originates.
Marijuana is currently listed as a Schedule I narcotic under the federal Controlled Substances Act, meaning the federal government believes it to be a dangerous drug with no recognized medical benefit. Consequently, any CBD derived from marijuana violates the federal Controlled Substances Act, and the Drug Enforcement Administration has already stated that it believes CBD to be a marijuana derivative and, therefore, a Schedule I drug.
Hemp, on the other hand, is more complicated. The DEA defines hemp as the parts of the cannabis plant excluded from the Controlled Substances Act, namely the mature stalks and seeds. To legally grow cannabis in the U.S. — hemp or not — you must possess a permit from the DEA, which the DEA typically never issues. Consequently, cultivating hemp without a permit remains a federal crime. The only exception is the 2014 federal Farm Bill, which defines “industrial hemp” as cannabis that contains less than 0.3 percent THC by weight, and which allows state departments of agriculture, universities, and colleges to cultivate industrial hemp for educational and research purposes without a DEA permit. Despite the prohibition on hemp cultivation without a DEA-issued permit, it is not a violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act to purchase, sell, and possess processed hemp products.

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