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Another hurdle for medical marijuana: DEA outlaws cannabidiol

Medical marijuana is not without controversy, and that's especially true in Michigan. Marijuana remains prohibited for any purpose under federal law. It's still listed on Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act, which contains drugs that have:

  • No currently accepted medical use
  • No accepted way to safely use the drug even under medical supervision
  • A high potential for abuse

Since we now know marijuana can be used safely, has little potential for abuse, and has numerous, important medical uses supported by a growing body of evidence, why hasn't it been taken off of Schedule I? Well, consider that the Controlled Substances Act and the Drug Enforcement Administration still refer to it as "marihuana."

On the other hand, the answer could be that law enforcement wants marijuana to remain illegal. Consider the continuing reports of police in Michigan raiding medical marijuana growers, citing them for minor regulatory violations, and seizing valuable property by claiming it was the proceeds of drug activity.

The DEA says all cannabis extracts are illegal -- even those that don't get you high

In a new rule that went into effect today, the DEA declares that it's not just the THC in cannabis that puts it on Schedule I, but anything derived from the plant -- even cannabidiol, which can't get you high and which and helps people who suffer from conditions such as seizure disorders and Parkinson's disease. The agency modified Schedule I to prohibit all cannabinoids, even though the Food and Drug Administration has already approved a cannabidiol-based drug for medical use.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the main non-psychoactive compound in marijuana and is among the most promising substances being researched for medical value. Early studies have even shown it could reduce the size of cancerous tumors.

Nevertheless, the DEA was clear: "[I]f 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" prohibiting it for any purpose.

So, as far as the DEA is concerned, medical marijuana of any kind is illegal everywhere in the United States.

As its motivation, the agency cited the need to bring the CSA drug schedules into harmony with two treaties -- treaties passed in 1961 and 1971.

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