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Feds Crack Down on Cannabis Extracts

Cannabis Oil A Schedule I Drug?

A little three-page document published this week in the U.S. Federal Register sent some fairly big shock waves through the cannabis industry.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration filed a final rule notice to establish a Controlled Substances Code Number for “marihuana extract,” and subsequently maintaining marijuana, hemp and their derivatives as Schedule I substances. According to the notice:

This code number will allow DEA and DEA-registered entities to track quantities of this material separately from quantities of marihuana. This, in turn, will aid in complying with relevant treaty provisions.

The filing goes on to state that a new code number is needed. The United Nations Conventions on international drug control treats cannabis plant extracts differently than marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinols (THC). The rule goes into effect Jan. 13, 2017.

Following some initial reports Wednesday, speculation and confusion swelled among cannabis businesses and advocates about just what actions the government was taking on cannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp. Some posts included erroneous reports that a scheduling action took place.


Those who ship CBD oil are not under federal watch. However, the federal register note does not change the DEA’s enforcement priorities.

The Hemp Industries Association, an international trade group, also is reviewing the matter, said Eric Steenstra, the organization’s executive director.

“Where we are concerned is that the DEA is attempting to create new administrative codes that do have real impacts on companies working in this space,” Steenstra said. “Other agencies might interpret the new code to mean that somehow products produced from hemp (are illegal).”

Steenstra said he could not speak to why the DEA may have taken this approach. In 2011, that was prior to the passage of the Farm Bill, which includes a section addressing industrial hemp, as well as the passage of numerous statewide marijuana measures, notably adult-use measures in Colorado and elsewhere.

Conflict on Laws

As of Nov. 8, a majority of the United States has laws in place legalizing some forms of medical marijuana. This includes more than a dozen with low-THC or CBD-only laws for specific medical purposes.

Those laws and other state-initiated marijuana measures still conflict with federal law, Vice noted in its report about the DEA Thursday.

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