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What is Cannabidiol (CBD) and Is it Legal?

Depending on who you ask, cannabidiol (or “CBD”) is either an effective medicine used in the treatment of epilepsy and other medical conditions or a dangerous drug with no medicinal value. Cannabidiol is one of the 113 separate cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant (also known as as marijuana), but is far less discussed in the general public than its more famous fellow cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol, or “THC” as it is more commonly known, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. While CBD has become increasingly popular in recent years for its medicinal use and potential as a cash crop for farmers, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has recently stated that CBD is a Schedule I controlled substance, the same classification given LSD or heroin.

The DEA’s Announcement on CBD

In its announcement, the DEA noted that, in the past, it had created distinct designations for marijuana and THC specifically, but it had not created designations for marijuana extracts, meaning any product extracted from the cannabis plant, such as CBD. Per its announcement, however, the DEA is creating a new designation for marijuana extract which it defines as:

“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”

The notice goes on to state that marijuana extracts such as CBD “will continue to be treated as Schedule I substances.” The rule is effective January 13, 2017.

Under current rules, an individual convicted under federal law for trafficking in any amount of marijuana can face five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine on a first offense, with penalties going up to a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life imprisonment.

The Proliferation of CBD

Interestingly, at the same time the DEA is making clear that CBD is illegal, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcares products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) declared in early January that CBD should be classified as a medicine, with an MHRA director stating, “…CBD is in fact a medicine, and that opinion was based on the fact that we noted that people were making some quite stark claims about serious diseases that could be treated with CBD.” While this change does not make CBD legal in the UK, it suggests legalization in the near future there is a possibility.

Unlike THC, CBD does not appear to have psychoactive ingredients which causes a user to “get high” and supporters state that use of CBD provides patients with relief from pain, anxiety, and seizures associated with ailments such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and diabetes, among others. Numerous companies in the US have begun work on the cultivation of CBD as a medical product, and have made significant investments in farming operations in places like Kentucky in the hopes of growing a market for CBD products.

For the foreseeable future, however, CBD remains illegal under the DEA’s newly released statement, opening manufacturers and possessors of CBD open to criminal prosecution.

Representation in Your Oklahoma Drug Crime Action

Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney Patrick Quillian is a former Oklahoma district attorney, with the experience to fight your drug crime charges and work towards a dismissal of charges, not guilty verdict, or favorable agreement with reduction of penalties and charges. Contact the office of J. Patrick Quillian, Attorney at Law, today at 405.294.4448 to schedule a free consultation to see what his criminal defense team can do for you.