If you’ve been keeping up with cannabis business news, you know all too well that the industry is rife with legal complications and unjust regulations.
Most people automatically think of THC and cannabis flower being at the center of the drama, but in recent years, CBD has been facing some legal challenges of its own. In December of 2017, the DEA (United States Drug Enforcement Agency) announced an update to their list of drug schedules. According to the new coding, all “marihuana extracts” are now categorized as Schedule 1 drugs – meaning they’re believed to have a high potential for abuse/addiction and no accepted medical value.
Let it sink in that while cannabis and all of its extracts and derivatives are highly illegal and considered dangerous; cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, and fentanyl are all schedule 2 drugs that often carry a much lighter jail sentence.
CBD Market Value
Since the enactment of section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill, states have been allowed to grow industrial hemp – which is used to make CBD oils, elixirs, medications, etc. This was permissible so long as the plant has less than 0.3% THC content. Since then, cannabidiol has grown into a nearly $10 billion market and is available online in every state.
According to data from Arcview Market Research/BDS Analytics, sales are expected to exceed $21 billion by 2021, making the market even more profitable than smokable, THC-dominant flower. Now, it’s not at all uncommon to find CBD extracts in everything from prescription medications, to dietary supplements, and even beauty and hygiene products.
CBD’s Future in the United States
This new ruling from the DEA could complicate the industry in many ways, especially when it comes to products being sold on the internet and potentially crossing over state lines. In February of this year, multiple Hemp and CBD companies, Hemp Industry Associations, and a few trade groups will attempt to overturn the classification by bringing a lawsuit to federal court in San Francisco, CA.
“The thorny question here is whether these CBD products derived from industrial hemp can be legally sold and distributed online,” says Daniel Shortt, a Seattle-based cannabis industry attorney. “Some major retailers won’t sell CBD, others will. A lot of it comes down to what level of risk businesses are willing to take.” And the risk is becoming more apparent, with the FDA even sending out warnings to CBD retailers stating that they need to cease the selling of unapproved drugs and making “unfounded” health claims.
Cannabidiol’s future is definitely promising, although there will be some major hurdles along the way. For the past few years, congress has paved the way for CBD to be more easily distributed throughout the states. Just this week, a committee of pediatricians petitioned the FDA to approve a CBD-based drug called Epidiolex, which will be used to treat rare and severe forms of childhood epilepsy such as Dravet syndrome. This is clearing the path for more legislation to made in favor of CBD.
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