DEA Reaffirms Stance That CBD Meets Schedule I Criteria — Reality Says Otherwise

oil_bottlesThe US Drug Enforcement Administration has publicly reiterated its position that cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic cannabinoid, is properly categorized under federal law as a schedule I controlled substance — meaning that, by definition, it possesses “a high potential for abuse,” “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,” and lacks “accepted safety … under medical supervision.”

The agency has long contended that CBD, along with all organic cannabinoids, is — by default — a schedule I controlled substance because it is a naturally occurring component of the cannabis plant. (This position is similarly held by both the NIDA and the FDA.) Nonetheless, a growing body of science undermines the notion that CBD meets any of the criteria necessary for such classification.

Specifically, clinical trial data finds that CBD is “safe,” “non-toxic,” and “well tolerated” in human volunteers. Even the director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse acknowledges that CBD is “not mind-altering” and that it “appears to be a safe drug with no addictive effects.”

Recently conducted controlled studies also acknowledge its therapeutic efficacy, particularly the ability of CBD dosing to mitigate treatment-resistant seizures, hypertension, and psychotic symptoms in humans. Other peer-reviewed data shows that CBD therapy holds promise for the treatment of “Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral ischemia, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, other inflammatory diseases, nausea and cancer.”

That is why in addition to the thirty states that presently recognize medical cannabis, an additional 16 states also explicitly recognize the use of CBD as a viable medical treatment.

Nonetheless, it remains unlikely that the DEA is going to amend its position any time soon. Further, police in recent months have begun initiating raids of CBD retailers, such as those reported here, here, and here. That is why it is critical that members of Congress move forward with legislation to remove the cannabis plant from the Controlled Substances Act.

Presently, several pieces of federal legislation are pending to amend the federal classification of CBD as a schedule I substance. These include:

HR 2020: Passage of this act would exclude CBD from the federal definition of ‘marihuana.’

S. 1374/HR 2920: Passage of these Acts would exempt from federal prosecution those who are engaged in state-sanctioned medical cannabis activities; it would also remove CBD from the federal definition of ‘marihuana.’

HR 2273/S. 1008: Passage of these Acts would exclude CBD and CBD-rich cannabis plants from the federal definition of ‘marihuana.’

You can contact your members of Congress in support of these bills and other pending legislation by visiting NORML’s Take Action Center here.

32 thoughts

  1. This is byproduct no frustrating at this point. The DEA needs to be revamped. Instead of being an adminstration, that need to be renamed as an agency. Administration means they have law making capacity and they clearly have shown that they no longer hold that capability. If there is a need for them then they should just enforce laws that are made by somebody else, whether it be congress or some other entity. That way the schedules could be reformatted without their input and all they would have to do is enforce. It is long overdue at this point. I’m a pharmacist and it is apalling that they have so much power because when it comes to canabis they are dead WRONG!!

    1. My first sentence should read “This is beyond frustrating at this point” autocorrect fail!

  2. Leaving the DOJ in charge of the prohibition of ANY whole plant has a “high potetntial for abuse.” The addiction here is the DOJ mafia to the prohibition of an organic substance.

    The DOJ, along with the ATF out of the Department of the Treasury ARE the world’s criminal drug cartel.

    Ive been reading a great hardcover book… a true story about the Osage (Wah-Zha-Zhi) murders and the birth of the FBI called Killers of the Flower Moon. Its amazing how much more fucked up and criminal our politicians and beurocratic agencies really were at conception and continue to be to this day. It was surreal reading about how the corruption and murder happening to the oil-rich Osage Indians during the 20s… from stealing mineral rights for oil to profiting off alcohol prohibition… ran all the way up to the top… from FBI director J Edgar Hoover to President Harding, down to Governors, prison wardens and crooked cops. All criminals. As I was reading on the plane back from DC I would glance up at the news on the TV screen on back of the chairs. Governor Christie’s fat @$$ on a closed down state beach… Trump shaking hands with Putin… Not much has changed. It just got worse.
    The cloak and dagger stories of the CIA pushing drugs were told to me by people Ive known in Washington who retired from the CIA and intelligence contracting. The State Department that once stood for diplomacy and honor is nothing but a laundry machine for blank checks so the DOJ thugs can carry out wars in the name of drugs and terrorism all over the world.
    Never before have we needed as a nation to support institutions of real justice like NORML by donating our time contacting our Reps and our passion for reform. Please click on the Act tab and then become a monthly doning member so we can plan for the sustained victory of Good over evil.
    Join the resistance:

    Law Enforcement Action Partership
    National Election Defense Coalition
    Committee to Protect Journalists

  3. Like, Wow, Scooby! Some of this is starting to sound like YearOfAction’s semantic manipulations of the various slang names for cannabis!

    But Paul has laid out the basics for us… Cannabis will be what it is regardless of what we call it…

    Personally, I get my CBD’s from marijuana. So I hope nothing fucks with that… Many medical marijuana patients depend on those CBD’s, AND the THC that comes with it. As Paul says above, what we want and need to do is legalize the entire plant cannabis, and all it’s hempish kinfolk, so that we can be done with this semantic nonsense about what part of cannabis is “marijuana.”

    Rather than remove CBD from the federal definition of “marijuana”, why not just legalize cannabis? Isn’t anything less playing into the hands of the Corporatists who want to maintain prohibition of the plant while simultaneously isolating and profiting from individual, legal, plant components? Is that not defeat for marijuana legalization?

    If politicians want CBD, make them legalize cannabis and stop being little babies about it!

    1. Very well said Dain Bramage.
      As if we needed more evidence of Big Pharma’s evil mission to prohibit whole plant cannabis long enough to profit on synthetic CBD:

      Ok, I wonder how much theyre gonna sell a tube of this synthetic CBD Acne medicine for? Will it add up to more than going on line and buying a $299 rosin press from WalMart and growing your own? Which cream will be more effective? Synthetics or the whole plant extract? I’ll guinea pig for the whole plant stuff, with THC and all the extra cannabinoids and terpenes. Put that all over me. See what happens.

      1. Oh, that next link was for another post. Zimbabwe considers legalizing as Canadian investment pours in. And I thought Mexico was surprising!

      2. I had severe and chronic acne all over my body, from my early teenage years well into adulthood. I went to a dermatologist, and endured a horrible series of painful injections directly into the cysts, and strange chemicals which turned me orange, but which ultimately didn’t cure the acne.

        I discovered, entirely on my own, that marijuana cured my acne as long as I could smoke it. But it took a lot of marijuana, and I needed a steady supply, which I rarely had in those days.

        I tried to tell people, but nobody fucking believed me. Then in the 90’s, I discovered Dr. Lester Grinspoon’s website, and I wrote a medical testimony about it. It may still be there.

        Now I am yelling at the top of my voice: “GODDAMN IT, I TOLD YOU SO!!” …at the prohibitionist society that failed me, and so many others.

      3. That explains why my face stopped exploding when I started smoking weed when I turned 18. And here I thought it was because weed helped me realize cigarettes taste like $#!+. (Or both and more?)

    2. You’re exactly right. Semantics will do nothing for the people who rely on the medicines extracted from this non-lethal plant. Sure it’s a smelly, sticky plant, but it’s time to face the actual, very real threats we face in this world and leave the war on pot like a bad date. Pot helps me, pot helps tens of millions of other American adults (and children too for that matter! Some of us NEED it to live a normal life) and we learned almost a hundred years ago in this nation that prohibition doesn’t work. #PotHelps
      Thanks for saying what needs to be said.

  4. My criterion for evaluating the worth of these bills is whether they legalize CBD:
    A) BECAUSE CBD is part of cannabis, and cannabis is safe and effective medicine; or,
    B) DESPITE the fact that CBD comes from cannabis, suggesting and reinforcing the false notion that “marijuana” prohibition is justified or necessary.

    Yea on A, Nay on B. Now I need a legal policy wonk to tell me, into which category do these bills fall?

    1. Doesn’t the US Government own a patent on CBDs in the first place? I believe I read that in a NORML publication. How can they legally keep something down that they own a patent on? They know damned well that it works and is helpful to many.

      [Paul Armentano responds: The patent in question, which you can view here:, is generic to all cannabinoids (both phytocannabinoids and synthetic cannabinoids) and is specific to the commercial application of said cannabinoids (as either anti-oxidants or neuroprotectants) rather than the cannabinoids themselves.]

      1. It is difficult for me to decide whether these CBD-only bills represent an advance or a retreat for the larger cause of marijuana legalization. It may in fact be that they do both; and if so, it may then come down to weighing the difference in degree between the two.

        There could be technical legalese within the bills that could put a thumb on the scale of whole-plant legalization in the future, either pro or con; for that question, I would need an expert to answer.

        But, from a political perspective, the question exists: will CBD-only medications make people more receptive to whole-plant legalizaton (“see how beneficial cannabis is?”), or less (“no need for marijuana, we have extracted the medically useful part and discarded the evil part”), playing right into the Corporate Prohibitionist’s hands? This could be a case of “both.”

        What may tip the balance in favor of these bills is the existence of real people who may benefit from the new CBD-only medicine, who wouldn’t have had access to any cannabis at all, otherwise. This creates a moral imperative. For these people, I suppose we must support the bills, even if they (the bills) play into our enemies hands to some extent. (Unless, again, there is something more wicked hidden within the bills that I am not aware of.)

      2. A juxtaposed answer for a both-and-more question:

        CBD-only laws are crafted by Big Pharma to create a schedule-2, synthetic CBD market that wants to destroy the whole-plant state market and as a synthetic patent is NOT as effective as the synergetic effect of whole plant cannabis. Our synthetic patenting system is poison, pure and simple.

        With that said, if the laws allow for “whole plant extract with low THC” there is some leeway in that the state legislature is admitting whole plant cannabis is medicine, and it opens the door for improvement to the law, hence the perfect will not be the enemy of the good.

        Ultimately we have to weigh where our dollar$ and votes are going and judge our state voter’s intelligence to determine the message of a congressional campaign based on where the difference exists between the perfect, the good, the bad and the ugly laws. Thats hard to measure when we have a Presidential administration that is so stupid even a Republican heroin addict is like, “hey that guy is a fu€king liar!”

  5. We grew up in the sixties and seventies, and we knew the “sign” that legalization had arrived was going to be when Corporate America got in on the game, like “Pot-tarts” and Marlboro cigarette packs with joints inside.

    But we should have known that was naive, they never planned to legalize it for us, just to profit from it at our expense. The culture war continues….

  6. Yet again the DEA proves beyond any doubt that they are the most useless agency in the United States. Even worse than being useless is the fact that they are harmful to our society!

  7. Now you know why the Late President Nixon have created the DEA along with the Control Substance Act of 1970. There is no compromise, just strict obedience and orders by the former Nixon administration to never allow any changes on the marijuana issue no matter what.

  8. Shit, if we can exclude CBD from the federal definition of “marijuana,” we should just exclude all cannabinoids and terpenes from the definition of “marijuana,” and be done with it! And I will hand the winner’s trophy to YearOfAction!

    Marijuana will become a mythical creature, like Bigfoot, or the “moderate” Republican.

  9. This new tightening of enforcement by this administration further demonstrates that they are not cutting health care souly for the money but the willful desire to make the common man suffer.

  10. Created in 1970 during worst paranoid years of the Nixon Administration, the CSA and particularly Schedule One are not scientifically based.They are politically driven. Every substance has a use. Something humans can if used properly, benefit from. Schedule One emerged from the fracturing of American culture that happened in the 1960s. The Joe Fridays of America, Nixon’s “Silent Majority” wanted a way to suppress and oppress the scary nonconformists who weren’t playing along with the way the WWII generation wanted America to be. The DEA (and Jeff Sessions) are the current upholders of that tradition.

    1. More specifically, Nixon was suppressing the votes of minorities and Democratically leaning marijuana consumers who questioned authority.
      Essentially he needed to get reelected. He did so by bowing to beurocratic fascists who wanted to turn the DOJ into a blank check for perpetual war.

  11. We all know the truth. They will not stop till they won. I have herd of talk declaring war on the D.E.A. Count me out on that. I Love liveing.Seen way to much blood shed. But I understand why a group of reformer would start killing.

  12. CBD Schedule 1? It doesn’t even make a person high. Do they even know what they are talking about anymore? All of this over a plant, which is safer then any other plant. They help to market tobacco, yet it has been proved that it is a dangerous thing to be smoking. 7,000 chemicals do be exact, and most of them can cause cancer. 600 chemicals in Pot, nearly none to none cause cancer.

    If one would look at it completely honestly, tobacco has pretty much no medical value at all. In fact, it fits the criteria of a schedule 1 drug more than Pot does. YET
    They keep claiming Pot is worse, when studies have proved that it actually kills cancer cells, not creates them.

    It is time for a better approach on all drugs, not just cannabis. End prohibition on all drugs, and then treat certain addiction as a public health problem. Offer help and programs, not jail time. Pay for programs using tax money from drugs. Put only violent offenders in jail. That is the correct way to go.

    I do not need jail time for cannabis, as it is less as dangerous as alcohol. They want a good way to deal with the opioid crisis, that is a way to deal with it. Encourage them with a help program, not jail time. Allow them to use Cannabis to help suppress the want for heroin.
    It helps, but they must pull the rest of the way. Sometimes almost on their own. But in any-case, offer something instead of just jail time. Most get out, and then use again. The system solved nothing by locking them up.

    What would it solve by locking me up for a little cannabis? Same with all who read who also partake in some cannabis from time to time. We don’t need locked up for something like that, as we are hurting no one. We are not even hurting ourselves, more like helping ourselves from getting sick down the road.

  13. continued.

    Cannabis should just be a Right, not against the law. Let me grow a few plants, and leave me alone, and I’ll not complain.

    They are pushing to try to walk backward, while the rest of the world wants to move forward. It is time to legalize the weed.

    Thank You Very Much For Reading.

  14. I would just like to know which official made this decision, & who he/she is in the pockets of

  15. My husband is 80 years and has been suffering from PD for the past 15 years. Lately he started hallucinating and I didn’t know how to handle the situation. He cannot sleep and tried to find and catch the imaginary people who he thinks are real. he was taken Entacapone with Levodopa, Carbidopa, and Pramipexole and started physical therapy to strengthen muscles. nothing was really working to help his condition.I took him off the Siferol (with the doctor’s knowledge) and started him on parkinson’s herbal formula i ordered from Health Herbal Clinic, his symptoms totally declined over a 5 weeks use of the Parkinsons disease natural herbal formula.i read reviews from other previous patients who used the herbal formula, my husband is now active, he can now go about daily exercise!! his symptoms so much reduced that now I hardly notice them.

  16. DEA… a bunch of taxpayer funded thieves. They are now trying to protect their income stream.

  17. Ridiculous. Their stance is absolutely ridiculous in light of the growing body of evidence that says otherwise. I frankly don’t understand how the director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse can acknowledge that it does not meet the criteria while another federal agency’s official stance is the exact opposite. The science is sound, where is the logic? Easy to see where one could quickly jump to conspiracies in an attempt to explain the hypocrisy here.

    Anyways. So long as there are those who benefit from CBD when there is no superior alternative, there must be those who continue to demand that its legitimacy be recognized – at least for their sake.

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