With marijuana laws evolving all around the country, new areas of the industry are being brought to light to be assessed for legality purposes. One of the most pertinent areas being debated on is the legality and use of cannabidiol (CBD).
What is CBD?
CBD is one of an estimated 100-plus cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant that is extracted as the plant’s resin. A cannabinoid is defined as “any various chemical constituents (such as THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] or cannabinol) of cannabis or marijuana.” Unlike its more popular relative THC, CBD is non-psychotropic which means it does not produce the “high” that THC does. Therefore most industrial varieties of hemp contain minimal amounts of THC—usually less than 0.3%—with a CBD-to-THC ratio close to 10-to-1.
CBD Medical Usage
The main interest in CBD of late has come from its purported medical uses. Various studies have reported numerous medical ailments that have been relieved or reduced due to the ingestion of CBD. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report stating that CBD has several medical applications, with evidence suggesting the effective treatment of epilepsy and preliminary evidence of success in the treatment of cancer. WHO also noted that CBD exhibits no effects of abuse or dependence potential in humans, and no evidence exists showing recreational CBD use or public health concerns arising from CBD. However, despite the promising reports of the positive effects of CBD, it is still illegal on the federal scale and classified as a schedule I drug.
The federal law surrounding marijuana and the parts of the plant indicate the only parts that can be harvested and used legally is the stalk of the mature plant and sterilized seeds incapable of germination. However, the line is drawn hard here. Any resin, including CBD, that is extracted from the mature stalk is still considered marijuana and is therefore illegal. Regardless of mostly Internet-based arguments that CBD is legal under federal law, the Department of Justice maintains that CBD, along with all marijuana extracts, is still and always has been a Schedule I controlled substance.
There is one exception to the federal laws surrounding marijuana however. Under the Agricultural Act of 2014, more commonly referred to as the “Farm Bill”, marijuana can be grown and harvested by institutes of higher education or a state’s department of agriculture to grow or cultivate “industrial hemp”. Importantly, the section defines “industrial hemp” to mean any Cannabis sativa L. plant, or any parts of the plant, whether growing or not, with a THC content of no more than 0.3%. The bill is to allow the state to closely regulate the growth and cultivation of extremely low-THC hemp for the purposes of research. Anyone growing the hemp—whether a University or an individual famer—must register and certify with the state while also using the hemp for research purposes.
With the passage of the “Farm Bill” the University of Nebraska saw its chance to conduct important and incredibly pertinent research on the ailments of CBD. Starting in May of 2015, the Nebraska Unicameral passed LB390 which created a pilot study though the University of Nebraska and Nebraska Medicine. The Medical Cannabidiol Pilot Study allows the University of Nebraska and Nebraska Medicine, and only those two, to produce or possess CBD for research purposes. In pursuit of this research, only the University of Nebraska Medical Center may test the CBD and only the Nebraska Medicine Research Pharmacy may dispense CBD for research purposes. Finally, only patients with intractable seizures and treatment resistant seizures may, with a physician’s order, obtain CBD under the Pilot Study.
Although the World Health Organization has recently released a statement that cannabidiol has several medically viable uses, is not prone to abuse and raises no public health concerns, the United States DEA has not moved CBD away from being a Schedule I controlled substance as it falls under the Controlled Substance Act’s definition of “marijuana”. This means at the federal level, CBD is still illegal to possess, use, manufacture or transport in interstate commerce. While the 2014 Farm Bill, in the eyes of some, created an exception through the growing and cultivating of industrial hemp a number of administrative regulations and public notices maintain that CBD is not legal at the federal level.
In terms of Nebraska law, CBD is slightly more legally available. This is because Nebraska’s version of a controlled substance act, the Uniform Controlled Substance Act, excludes CBD products that are approved by the FDA from the state’s definition of marijuana. This, coupled with the creation of the Medical CBD Pilot Study, allows certain medical patients to receive CBD medication as part of a research program into the viability of CBD medications. The state has also taken advantage of the opening created by the 2014 Farm Bill and created a CBD research program that allows secondary institutions to grow and cultivate industrial hemp for purposes of researching CBD. This means while CBD and its precursors are legal in limited situations, generally CBD is still illegal in the state of Nebraska.
If you or a loved one has been the target of a cbd, marijuana, or other narcotic investigation, contact the aggressive experienced criminal defense attorneys at Berry Law Firm.