industry | 11.29.2019

Cannabis Industry Plans To Sue DEA Over New CBD Classification

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s decision may be met with a lawsuit if certain cannabis industry players decide to pursue the issue.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) last week announced that it was including all cannabis extracts, including CBD, on its list of Schedule 1 Controlled Substances, a decision that may be met with a lawsuit if certain cannabis industry players decide to pursue the issue.

The announcement

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The DEA’s new rule – entitled “Establishment of a New Code for Marijuana Extract” – was published in the Federal Register on Wednesday.

The release explained that it sought to better track the importation and exportation of cannabis extracts, it devised a specific definition for them:

Meaning an extract containing one or more cannabinoids that has been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis, other than the separated resin (whether crude or purified) obtained from the plant.

Cannabis extracts, including CBD, are treated differently from the cannabis plant and THC, the cannabis compound responsible for producing the substance’s psychoactive effects, by the United Nations Conventions on international drug control, according to the release. Hence, it claims, why extracts require their own classification.

Hence, it claims, why extracts require their own classification.

According to Russell Baer, a DEA spokesperson, the new classification will be helpful in providing greater detail to the DEA going forward.

It’s an internal accounting mechanism for us… The purpose is to drill down and get more accurate information about research that’s being conducted with CBD in particular.

The problem

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One of the main complaints to have arisen from the DEA’s announcement is that it has no authority to regulate cannabis extracts such as CBD, which is not psychoactive.

According to one report, the inclusion of CBD oil and similar products under the DEA’s new rule is at odds with the famous Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which prohibits the federal government from cracking down on medical cannabis in states in which the substance is legal.

Aside from the legal implications, a crackdown on CBD and similar substances by the government could also result in thousands – or even millions – of people losing access to medicine.

CBD has often been effective in the treatment of epilepsy, chronic pain, cerebral palsy, and other medical conditions.

Potential lawsuit

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The DEA’s letter has already been met with a significant backlash among both cannabis activists and observers, many of whom say that the DEA has overstepped its authority in issuing such a classification.

Robert Hoban, one of the heads of the Denver-based Hoban Law Group, which has represented multiple cannabis businesses, said in an interview that he has fielded numerous calls from businesses who would participate in a lawsuit to challenge the DEA’s new rule.

I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number of calls I’ve gotten from people saying, ‘We’ll do whatever we have to do to take action.

Hoban went on to say that while he hoped the issue may be resolved through diplomatic or administrative means, he and his organization would have to gauge the thoughts of the different organizations they have represented before deciding how to proceed.

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