DEA patch and badge on an officer's coat.

Ryan Lackey

DEA: Rule Change Prioritizes CBD Research

The DEA says that the rule change, published last week which changed the agency’s code for cannabis extracts, will make researching CBD easier, according to the U.S. News and World Report. Spokesman Russ Baer indicated that the DEA recognizes that some CBD studies “have been promising” and they “want to be able to support that ongoing scientific research.”

“From a practical standpoint, we are giving priority, actually, to those researchers who are conducting research with marijuana extracts, [which] the internal code will allow us to track and prioritize,” he said in the report.

However, Colorado attorney Bob Hoban says that the rule change “will have the effect of stifling commerce,” noting that even before the rule was published, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have seized extracts containing both CBD and CBG — which is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Hoban argues that the DEA is trying to “inappropriately and unlawfully expand their purview” with the change, but “the sky is not falling.”

Baer contends that CBD has always been considered a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, despite federal guidelines that exclude the mature hemp stalks and derivatives of seed and stalk products such as oil and seed cake.

In 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the agency could not treat parts of the plant that aren’t included in the Act’s definition of cannabis as Schedule I drugs, even if they contain trace amounts of THC. The DEA did not appeal that ruling.

Under the 2014 Farm Bill, domestic hemp production pilot programs were legalized, which includes product sales.

Eric Steenstra, executive director of the Hemp Industries Association, said that if the DEA attempts to use the rule change to crack down on industries permitted under the Farm Bill, the organization would file a lawsuit.

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