Federal Drug Rescheduling and What it Means for CBD Hemp Oil

Rescheduling cannabis under federal law would open greater research opportunities for investigators interested in studying CBD and would make more consumers aware that CBD hemp oil is already legally available.

Over recent years, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and lawmakers have felt a growing pressure to reschedule cannabis under the United States Controlled Substances Act (CSA). As more individual states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use, and public attitudes regarding cannabis have shifted significantly toward acceptance, the loosening of the nation’s cannabis policy seems inevitable. While cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp oil are not specifically listed as controlled substances, federal drug rescheduling would encourage more research into the effects of CBD on the human body.

Where Federal Cannabis Law Stands Now

The CSA currently federally regulates the manufacturing, importation, possession, use, and distribution of cannabis and other substances. Signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970, the CSA maintains 5 drug classifications, which are distinguished primarily by their abuse potential, medical applications, and safety.

Marijuana and its psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are currently classified as Schedule I, the tier that is considered the most dangerous, with the strictest regulations. LSD and heroin are also classified as Schedule I.

To be categorized as a Schedule I substance, a drug must meet three criteria:

  • Have a high potential for abuse
  • Have no currently accepted medical use in treatment
  • Lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision

Marijuana and THC continue to be considered Schedule I by the DEA, despite the fact that 29 states and Washington D.C. have legalized medical marijuana.

CBD itself is not specifically listed on the CSA. Additionally, while hemp is still illegal to grow in the U.S. at the national level, importing hemp products has been legal for decades. In 2004, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals conclusively ruled that hemp products that are derived from the parts of the hemp plant that are exempt from the CSA are legal to import. CBD hemp oil, made from natural parts of legal imported hemp, is treated as a dietary supplement in the U.S. and therefore federally legal to buy.

What Drug “Rescheduling” Means

The substances listed in the Controlled Substances Act can be rescheduled or removed entirely. Rescheduling marijuana means that it would have its classification changed from Schedule I to Schedule II through V.

There are only a few entities that have the capability to change cannabis’s classification under the CSA. A change or deletion of a schedule of a medicine or substance can be requested by the Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or from any other party via petition to the DEA.

If the DEA accepts the petition, the Health and Human Services Secretary submits a “scientific and medical evaluation, and his recommendations, as to whether such drug or other substance should be so controlled or removed as a controlled substance.” The DEA, which had an opportunity to reschedule cannabis summer 2016 and declined, makes the final decision. Since 1972, several petitions to reschedule cannabis have failed.

Congressional legislation, the President, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services can also reschedule cannabis at a federal level.

Impact of Rescheduling on CBD Hemp Oil

The rescheduling of cannabis under the CSA would not change the federal legality of hemp-based CBD Oil. However, it would positively impact CBD hemp oil in several ways.

If cannabis were to be rescheduled at Schedule II, federal law would recognize that it has a currently accepted medical use in treatment. This would:

Facilitate Research Into CBD and Other Cannabinoids

Rescheduling cannabis would make it easier for researchers to study its potential medical applications. As of now, investigators must navigate miles of red tape to obtain research permission from the DEA and, in many states, a Schedule I research license. Additionally, for federal testing purposes they are limited to getting their cannabis material from a single producer.

Downgrading cannabis’s status would remove many of the restrictions that are hindering researchers from collecting data on the efficacy of cannabis and cannabinoids. Physicians who hold Schedule II-V prescriber registrations are allowed to conduct research on Schedule II-V substances without having to get further approval from the DEA or state controlled agencies. It would also mean investigators could obtain access to cannabis material like CBD products from many registered manufacturers.

Further Improve CBD Hemp Oil Awareness

While more and more people are recognizing the natural benefits of CBD hemp oil in recent years, public perception of the non-psychoactive dietary supplement would continue to improve with the rescheduling of cannabis.

The current tangled legal web of cannabis laws in the U.S. may have made some consumers unaware of the availability of legal CBD dietary supplements. If the government were to loosen its regulations on cannabis, it would help further alleviate any lingering stigma of cannabis and its cannabinoids. This would likely lead to more consumers becoming open to incorporating daily CBD supplements, further fueling a $170 million CBD hemp oil market that is already expected to grow to $1 billion by 2020.

Learn More About Cannabis Laws

Marijuana remains federally prohibited, but cannabis laws vary state-by-state. You can learn more about cannabis laws where you live by visiting our education page.