New DEA Rule Says CBD Oil is Really, Truly, No-Joke Illegal

Bruce Barcott

December 14, 2016

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) this morning made CBD oil a little more federally illegal in a little-noticed bureaucratic maneuver this morning.

Today’s Federal Register (Dec. 14, 2016) contains an item (21 CFR Part 1308) that establishes a new drug code for “marihuana extract.”

“This code,” wrote DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg, “will allow DEA and DEA-registered entities to track quantities of this material separately from quantities of marihuana.” The move, the Register entry explained, is meant to bring the US into compliance with international drug-control treaties.

There is no major change in law brought about by the Register item. Rather, it serves to clarify and reinforce the DEA’s position on all cannabis extracts, including CBD oil. That position is: They are all federally illegal Schedule I substances.

CBD oil derived from hemp is now commonly available nationwide via web sites and mail order services. Those operations survive on the assumption that cannabidiol products below the legal threshold for THC percentage in hemp (0.3 percent or less) are technically legal.

Not so, says the DEA.

In the DEA comment on the entry, Rosenberg directly addressed the question: What if it’s only cannabidiol (CBD) and no other cannabinoids? The agency’s response: “For practical purposes, all extracts that contain CBD will also contain at least small amounts of other cannabinoids. However, if it were possible to produce from the cannabis plant an extract that contained only CBD and no other cannabinoids, such an extract would fall within the new drug code” and therefore remain federally illegal. In other words: The DEA is confident that it can find enough traces of other cannabinoids in your CBD oil to arrest and prosecute. And if they can’t, they still have the option of arresting and prosecuting based on the CBD oil itself.

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Is CBD from Cannabis the Same as CBD from Cannabis?

Is your CBD derived from hemp? Doesn’t matter to the DEA. The new extracts classification applies to all “extracts that have been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis and which contain cannabinols and cannabidiols.” Hemp is not a separate genus. (Although it may be a separate species; lot of debate on that point.) Legally speaking, hemp is simply cannabis with no more than 0.3 percent THC content.

The new rule seems to clarify the DEA’s position on hemp-derived CBD, which entered a legal gray area following Congress’ passage of the 2014 farm bill. That legislation allowed certain states to grow hemp in pilot projects, and blocked federal law enforcement authorities (ie, the DEA) from interfering with state agencies, hemp growers, and agricultural research.

What DEA Administrator Rosenberg seems to be saying with this clarification is: You may be able to grow hemp. But if you try to extract CBD oil from it, the DEA considers that a federal crime.

The rule did not contain any hint as to when the DEA will step into the 21st century and stop using the archaic version of the word “marihuana.”

Lead Image: Brennan Linsley/AP

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Court official hears allegations against marijuana activist

Bill Downing (right) appeared in court in Brighton with his attorneys Steven S. Epstein, left, and John G. Swomley.

Downing says he’s being singled out over cannabis-oil sale

By Milton J. Valencia Globe Staff  January 19, 2016

One of the state’s leading proponents for the legalization of marijuana — who now faces possible criminal drug distribution charges for selling a cannabis-based oil — told a clerk magistrate Tuesday that he believed he was selling a legal product known as CBD, recognized across the country for its medical benefits.

“I [believed it] then, and I still do now,” a defiant Bill Downing said under questioning during a hearing at Boston Municipal Court in Brighton.

Boston police have sought to charge Downing, 57, with nine counts of distribution of a Class D drug, marijuana, or a Class C drug, THC, out of a store he operated in Allston, called CBD Please. Downing sold a liquid form of CBD by the gram to undercover Boston police officers on several occasions in late 2014 and early 2015.

When Downing testified, he cited the manufacturer’s guide for the product he was selling, which reads, “100 percent legal in all 50 states.” His lawyers argued that police singled Downing out, even though other companies in Massachusetts have sold the same product.

State chemists who tested the CBD sold by Downing to the undercover officers found traces of THC, the psychoactive element in marijuana, but chemists differed on whether to classify the product as a Class C or a Class D drug.

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Police seek charges against marijuana legalization advocate

Bill Downing’s lawyer says it’s retaliation for criticism of the state’s regulation of the medical marijuana industry.

Clerk Magistrate Stephen Borelli will now decide whether police had probable cause to charge Downing, and whether the case should proceed in court.

During a hearing Tuesday, Lawyers for Downing said Boston police targeted their client for his loud criticism of the state’s medical marijuana industry. Downing formerly operated the Reading-based Yankee Care Givers to provide cannabis products to medical marijuana patients, but state officials shut that business down, saying he could not provide the products to more than one patient under medical marijuana laws approved in 2012.

Downing, a member of the board of directors for the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, has also helped organize the annual marijuana rally on the Boston Common, and he is the treasurer for Bay State Repeal, one of the groups that pushed to put a marijuana legalization measure on the 2016 ballot.

In December 2014, Downing opened CDB Please to sell non-psychoactive cannabis-based products for medical use. He said in press releases and in published news reports at the time that he wanted to provide as much support for medical marijuana use that is allowed under state law.

Kenneth Conley, a Boston police detective, testified during the hearing Tuesday that his superiors wanted him to investigate Downing after reading about the business in the Boston Globe in December 2014.

Conley said he went to the store in an undercover role, and inquired about CDB oil.

“I told him I wasn’t feeling well, lower back pain,” Conley said. “I told him I was having trouble sleeping and I didn’t like smoking marijuana, and he told me the best thing for me was the oil.”

Conley said he paid $40 for the gram of oil. On other occasions, undercover police officers paid $30, or $25.

Conley said a state chemist detected THC when testing the oil. Authorities later seized hundreds of grams of oil and other products, such as hemp shampoo and conditioner, during a raid of Downing’s business and home.

Lawyers for Downing argued that the THC levels in the products are so minimal that the products are exempt from the state law that criminalizes products containing more than 2½ percent THC. One of the lawyers, John Swomley, noted that the chemists had to test nearly the entire gram of liquid oil each time to detect any THC.

Another lawyer, Stephen Epstein, said the CDB Downing sold came from Colorado, and it would not be classified as a controlled substance under US law.

“It’s speculation . . . to believe there was any useable amount of [THC] in anything that tested positive for THC,” he said. Downing “was undertaking a lawful business. What he was doing was perfectly legal, and no crime was committed.”

Borelli invited the lawyers to submit further legal arguments in writing, and said he could issue a decision next week.

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.

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Note from a friend: Medical Marijuana and diabetes with obesity

 
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Roland A. Duby
I have a patient/friend who was 430 pounds, ate up with diabetes, and had to have oxygen all day, He got around on a little home scooter
for old people, but he ain’t old, just 58. He also had sleep apnea and heart problems along with low blood oxygen. I was visiting him after
not seeing him for a few years and that is the condition I found him in. He used to be 300 lbs and in a band and very active. He told me that
his doctor gave him 6 months to live. I told him about hemp oil and the experiences I have had and the miracles I have seen. He told
me he was hoping I had a joint but we would have to sneak downstairs to smoke so his wife would not know. I told him fuck that, I have some
oil and you can eat it, but we should show this Rick Simpson movie to your wife. He ate some oil and then hollered for his wife. she watched
it and said go for it. I gave him a ten gram tube and hugged everyone goodbye.

I got a call a month later and he told me that the stuff was a miracle, and his diabetes was gone. His blood oxygen is up to 75% and he can
walk to the corner store and back.

I got another call 3 months later and he told me he has lost over 100 pounds and is mowing his own lawn, and people see him walking around
in the grocery store and can’t believe their eyes. He said his preacher saw him and told him praise the lord cause they had prayed for him,
and he told his preacher to thank the ones who prayed for marijuana because that is what saved his life! The preacher said “what?’ and he
told the preacher that he eats one drop of marijuana oil a day and it cured all of his problems! The preacher said “Do you mean hash oil?”
and that is when he smoked his first joint with his preacher!