Is CBD a Schedule 1 Drug? Understanding CBD Scheduling in America

There seems to be plenty of confusion surrounding the classification of CBD. Is CBD a schedule 1 drug and if so, why is it still classified as such by the DEA?

The United States remains split over the Federal stance on the legality of CBD products because of the source from which it derives. Hemp and cannabis are often lumped in together as schedule 1 controlled substances in the United States. But, since hemp derived CBD does not produce THC, is CBD a schedule 1 drug?

How CBD is scheduled recently changed, since the Drug Enforcement Agency made a schedule 1 classification on the epilepsy medication, Epidiolex, in late September of this year. With the ruling on Epidiolex, the DEA altered where some CBD products are scheduled.

This article provides everything you need to know about how CBD is scheduled in the United States and what has changed in recent months.

Understanding CBD Scheduling in America

Since CBD comes from hemp or cannabis, the DEA is stingy about separating the two. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive chemical in cannabis which gets you “high”. THC is a schedule 1 drug, but is CBD a schedule 1 drug?

The Food and Drug Administration or FDA does not approve CBD or THC for marketing as a dietary supplement. The FDA stance on CBD does not respect the states which condone legal CBD sales.

According to the DEAs final order on CBD, FDA-approved CBD products cannot have more than 0.1 percent THC, or else they are a schedule 1 substance. Products with 0.1 percent THC or less are a schedule 5 drug.

So, if it is a hemp-based CBD oil there is no doubt it falls under the 0.1 percent THC mark and is, therefore, FDA-approved CBD products are a schedule 5 controlled substance. But non-FDA approved CBD products, regardless of their THC content, are classified as schedule 1 drugs.

What is CBD?

CBD or cannabidiol is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter, anti-inflammatory, and one of many cannabinoids that the hemp plant produces. Cannabinoids, like CBD, match up with natural neuroreceptors in your body to encourage your bodies health. They occur naturally in many types of plants, but especially in the hemp and cannabis plants.

The cannabis plant produces, both, CBD and THC. CBD or cannabidiol carries no psychoactive ingredient, so it does not produce a mind-altering state. But CBD that comes from a cannabis plant, instead of hemp, can contain trace amounts of THC.

Can You Buy Hemp CBD in US States?

The legal status of CBD products are standardized by the federal government, but each state oversees its own regulation on commercial availability. As of right now, 18 states legalize access for Low THC/High CBD medications.

But, at any time, the DEA can still raid any hemp CBD business and confiscate their goods and revenue. The federal government considers, both, hemp and cannabis illegal. Even in states that legalize CBD sales, many startups can’t find a bank that will open them an account and encounter endless accounting problems as a result.

The federal stance on CBD makes it difficult for legal businesses to stay in business.

The differentiating factor is that of hemp or cannabis-derived CBD. CBD from cannabis can contain THC, so the sale of which is strictly limited to states with medical or recreational marijuana laws. But many of the states that permit CBD sales do not permit cannabis products, such as Indiana and Kentucky.

Is CBD a Schedule 1 Drug?

Hemp production in the US is stifled by the history of regulation surrounding cannabis. But a pilot program has been in effect since 2014 that introduced hemp sales and cultivation back into mainstream America.

And, by the end of 2018, lawmakers will sign The 2018 Farm Bill, which contains The Hemp Farming Act.

If The Hemp Farming Act is passed into law with The 2018 Farm Bill, the DEA will no longer have authority to limit hemp production in the United States. Hemp will be classified as an agricultural commodity. Each state will regulate the cultivation and sale of hemp products for itself.

So, Americans might see a brand new landscape for the legality of hemp-derived products, like CBD. Not to mention a new agricultural cash crop that can stimulate growth in rural America.

It is high time for the federal government to legalize CBD as an over-the-counter product. But as of right now, in late November of 2018, any non-FDA approved CBD product is a schedule 1 drug. The best you can get, according to the DEA, is a schedule 5 CBD drug, if you suffer from a short-list of muscular disorders.

DEA Drug Classifications

If CBD is a schedule 1 drug, how are schedule 1 drugs classified? Any controlled medication is classified under one of five levels of the controlled substance act. Each tier carries different restrictions for the possession, sale, and cultivation of the drugs therein.

Schedule I

A schedule 1 drug is as bad as it gets. Or, at least, as illegal as it gets. These substances have no acceptable application in the medical industry or otherwise in the USA.

Schedule 1 drugs are considered to have a high potential for abuse and are not available in any legal context.

Some examples include cocaine, heroin, meth, and-absurdly-cannabis. CBD products which are not approved by the FDA also fall into this over-restrictive category.

Schedule II

Schedule 2 controlled substances include medications that carry a high risk of abuse but are prescribed by a doctor. The filling and refilling of these medications are strictly monitored. You cannot have a schedule 2 drug automatically refilled, electronically sent to a pharmacy, or delivered by an e-pharmacy service.

Schedule 2 substances are a hot topic in America. Opioid painkillers are one of the schedule 2 drugs in social debate.

Schedule III

Schedule 3 substances carry less risk for overdosing, abuse, or physical dependency. As with schedule 2, you must check-up with your physician every six months to continue receiving a prescription and all the other schedule 2 limitations. Some schedule 2 drugs include those used in the treatment of opioid abuse, Suboxone and anything with moderate levels of codeine.

Schedule IV

Schedule 4 substances carry a low risk of abuse and can be automatically refilled by a pharmacy up to five times from a single prescription. Schedule two drugs are more common, as their production and sale are less restricted. Some common examples include Xanax and Klonopin.

Schedule V

Schedule 5 drugs have a very low risk of abuse or dependency. They typically include drugs that have a very small amount of narcotics, such as codeine in cough medications.

Schedule 5 drugs can be refilled as many times as the doctor approves on a single script. According to the DEA, FDA-approved CBD drugs fall into this category, as of September 28, 2018.

Final Thoughts

If the CBD product is not FDA-approved, then it falls under a schedule 1 controlled substance. But, if it is FDA approved, it is a schedule 5 controlled substance. In no case, however, is CBD approved by the FDA as a dietary or medical supplement.

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