CrimeBeat: DEA tracking of CBD products doesn't affect California users

The DEA recently designated CBD an illegal controlled substance. So what does that mean for people who use CBD products?|

The DEA recently designated CBD an illegal controlled substance, or something like that. What does that mean for people who use CBD products?

The Drug Enforcement Administration did not reschedule the cannabis compound CBD, or cannabidiol, or change its status under federal law. Marijuana extract, of which CBD is just one kind, is still illegal under federal law and a controlled substance with no federally approved medicinal value. What the DEA did is give marijuana extract a unique drug code so it can be tracked separately from marijuana plants and other marijuana-derived materials.

The codes are “used to track quantities of the controlled substance imported to and exported from the United States,” according to a federal register published Dec. 14 announcing the change.

DEA spokeswoman Barbara Carreno said the separate code also allows federal agencies to track research on cannabinoids, and it was originally proposed in 2011. It’s a sign of the variety of marijuana-related products being produced and the amount of research being conducted and tracked, Carreno said.

There’s essentially no change for CBD users in California, where state law allows people to use marijuana products.

Santa Rosa attorney Joe Rogoway said there’s a backstory to the change, and it involves the burgeoning hemp industry in Kentucky where marijuana remains illegal.

Hemp is a variety of cannabis with virtually no psychoactive THC, but nevertheless, its production was highly restricted for about 75 years. That ended in 2014 when the Farm Bill removed hemp grown for research purposes from the Controlled Substances Act.

Producers began extracting CBD from hemp plants and selling products online, like CBD-infused beverages and oils. The DEA’s change was meant to track and ultimately deter online sales of hemp-derived CBD products, according to Rogoway.

“That oil was being exported out of Kentucky and into other states like California,” Rogoway said. “The federal government is addressing what has been a workaround in the cannabis industry for the interstate commerce of CBD.”

The Hemp Industries Association came out in strong opposition to the DEA’s move creating a way to track extracts like CBD separately from all marijuana products, arguing that it conflicts with the Farm Bill and “is based on an incorrect and incomplete understanding of how CBD is derived from the cannabis plant,” according to a Dec. 16 statement.

“CBD products should be legally defined as supplements, not drugs or pharmaceuticals subject to DEA control,” according to the industry association.

The new drug code goes into effect Jan. 13.

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