2018 will go on record as a year of lightning speed news cycles and overloaded feeds. With unprecedented developments in the fields of global politics, environmental activity and scientific advancements, the regulation of cannabinoid compounds seemed less like a breaking news item. However, with recent admission that the DEA will criminalize investors in Canadian cannabis projects, the question ‘is CBD legal’ made rounds again.
In this age of immediately developing news stories, research can easily be derailed. Worse yet, with 38 states introducing new measures to deal with cannabinoids in 2018, its easy to feel spread thin and lost in this web of conflicting info. So, with the aim of clarifying conflicting accounts, let’s run through major cannabinoid related laws.
So what’s the deal? Is CBD legal? How did we get to this ambiguous point, and where are regulations headed?
Is CBD Legal? A Regulatory Rigamarole
What’re the Relevant CBD Regulations?
Since 1906 state and national governments have essentially engaged in a tug of war to define how compounds in the cannabinoid family can be regulated and accessed. The back and forth was great for political grandstanding and generating voter appeal. A century down the line however, it’s only produced a headache for consumers and producers to navigate.
For our purposes, the most relevant restrictions were enacted in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. In the midst of a swelling counter cultural wave, Congress effectively stamped out all previous cannabinoid legislation. By putting this act in place, cannabis and all of it’s compounds were classified as a Schedule I substances with a single pen stroke.
This categorization deemed a a diverse, and at that time widely understudied, array of compounds to have no accepted medical uses. That bold claim grows weaker with each day and each published study.
What made CBD legal?
The Agriculture Bill and Industrial Hemp
Most cultivators and users point to 2014’s Agricultural Bill as the vehicle that relaxed regulations on cannabinoids like CBD. Thanks to a pair of measures in the bill, it seemed like there’d be a sensible answer to the paranoiac’s favorite question – is CBD legal?
The first measure ruled on industrial hemp, or that which is grown with lass than .3% of THC content. Specifically, it declared this type of hemp legal to grow under the supervision of state pilot programs. These programs are research permissions granted by states. They set the parameters and intents for research that Universities and government labs have to follow.
The second measure continued to state that cannabinoid regulation would be deferred to the existing state laws.This second measure is where complications start. Producers argue that the language allows for states to oversee all aspects of the developing cannabinoid industry, including packaging and distribution. Federal authorities disagreed, and this split is still being argued in courts with developments nearly daily.
So in short, according to current legislation CBD products have additional legal hoops to jump through to abide by regulations for sale, distribution and consumption.
However, even in states lacking those protections, CBD products can still be found on shelves. How is that?
Crackdowns sound scary. When considering today’s bombshell from the DEA, it can seem like a deregulation and legalization efforts are about to be rolled back. However, it’s important to consider these actions in a broader context. The DEA’s own spokesperson, Rusty Payne, conceded that CBD use doesn’t mean authorities will be bringing search warrants to your house. “No, we’ve got bigger fish to fry. We are in the midst of an opioid epidemic. I think people think (CBD) is high on the priority list right now. It is not.”
Announcements like the one DEA made today serve as a way to communicate the agency’s perspectives on a rapidly developing industry. They’re not mission statements that will be put in place immediately. By the looks of it, they’re pretty strictly interpreting CBD’s current status as a Schedule I Substance at the borders, but this approach could be dealt some major blows soon.
Developments in CBD Legalities
This unnecessarily ambiguous issue has prompted a rare showing of bipartisan coalition building. After decades of appeals, America’s political parties are aligning their stances on regulation with the will of the people.
The STATES Act and The Hemp Farming Act
Both introduced to the American legislature in 2018, these acts yield huge potential in decomplicating questions regarding CBD’s legalities. The Hemp Farming Act would aim to broadly decriminalize hemp cultivation nationally, and grant farmers access to banking and water subsidy resources. The STATES (Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States) Act would provide a similar ruling on cannabinoid products and compounds generally, not just on industrial hemp.
In short, these prospective laws should give hope to any CBD user or advocate. At the very least, they would clear draconian laws from federal ledgers. But, these measures definitely provide a way for non psycho active cannabinoid compounds to leave their limbo in the research and development stages.