The Complexity of Hemp's Schedule 1 Status

Under federal law, CBD, which is derived from cannabis plants with more than 0.3% THC content, is classified as a Schedule 1 substance. This classification has caused much controversy, as many people believe that marijuana is not as dangerous as heroin and should not be placed in the same category. The DEA states that Schedule 2 substances have some medical value and List 1 substances do not, so the latter receive greater regulatory scrutiny, even if they are not more dangerous. This means that Schedule 1 drugs are effectively illegal for anything other than research, and Schedule 2 drugs can be used for limited medical purposes with DEA approval.

The drug list may interfere with state laws. Ranking 1 for marijuana is one of the reasons why banks are reluctant to open accounts for stores and producers of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, even though businesses are legal under state law. Federal tax law also prohibits companies from deducting many expenses related to drug trafficking from schedules 1 and 2, which can cause the effective income tax rates of legal state-owned marijuana companies to skyrocket by up to 90 percent. Mark Kleiman, a drug policy expert, argues that both alcohol and tobacco would be marked as lists 1 if evaluated today, since they are widely used for recreational purposes, are addictive, are harmful to health and society, and are deadly.

When the classification of marijuana is reviewed, its status in list 1 is consistently maintained due to the lack of scientific evidence of its medical value. But one reason why there isn't enough scientific evidence to change the status of list 1 marijuana could, in fact, be the drug's list 1 status. The DEA restricts the amount of marijuana that can be used for research. The measure removed industrial hemp plants from their previous state as a controlled substance, shifting oversight from the DEA to the FDA. This interim final rule uncontrols hemp, hemp extracts and FDA-approved products containing CBD, and translates into cost savings for the public.

With the legalization of different forms of cannabis at both the state and federal levels, the CBD class schedule remains complex and confusing for some. Kleiman has proposed moving to a programming system that only analyzes the potential for abuse of a drug without considering whether it has medical value. Rather than relying on a single classification system for all drugs, this system would allow for more nuanced regulation based on each drug's individual characteristics. This would allow for more flexibility in terms of access and supply while still ensuring that drugs with high potential for abuse remain tightly regulated. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) will review and approve commercial hemp production plans developed by Indian state, territorial and tribal agencies and will develop its own production plan. A tighter schedule allows the DEA to more strictly limit access to and supply of a drug, which can make it difficult to research a drug, as has happened with marijuana, limiting the ability of researchers to study the drug because of its medical value. For this reason, the DEA does not have a good basis for estimating the annual number of imported or exported hemp-derived extracts that no longer require permits as a result of the enactment of this provisional final rule.

However, after reviewing its data, it is clear that hemp-derived extracts containing less than 0.3% THC content are now uncontrolled along with the plant itself. Like FDA-approved CBD products and viable hemp seeds, entities no longer require DEA registration or import and export permits to handle hemp extracts that do not exceed the legal THC limit of 0.3%. This revised definition now includes the THC content limit of 0.3% for the extract, which means that hemp-derived extracts containing less than 0.3% THC content are also uncontrolled along with the plant itself. The complexity surrounding hemp's Schedule 1 status has caused much confusion among consumers and businesses alike. While a reclassification would be a symbolic victory for legalization advocates, it may not have much practical effect due to existing regulations surrounding Schedule 2 substances. However, by moving away from a single classification system for all drugs and towards a system that allows for more nuanced regulation based on each drug's individual characteristics could help unlock much more research into hemp's potential benefits.

Micaela de Gallardo
Micaela de Gallardo

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