Since it was the DEA who clarified their definition of marijuana to include CBD, and not Congress adding to the CSA to include CBD, “this would cover that,” he said. Further, by declaring CBD banned while also allowing hemp cultivation under the farm bill, two branches of the federal government are giving conflicting advice. One is saying hemp is legal—the other is saying it’s not.
Botanically speaking, there’s not a shred of difference between the two plants: Both are cannabis Sativa under the Linnean definition. Legally speaking, the two do indeed have a binary difference: One is federally legal, and the other is not. Under federal law, “hemp” is defined as cannabis Sativa plants with less than 0.3 percent THC. Anything with more is “marijuana.”
By declaring CBD banned while also allowing hemp cultivation under the farm bill, two branches of the federal government are giving conflicting advice.
In making its case in 2016 and again in court on Thursday, the DEA cited both existing federal law and a pair of United Nations treaties, to which the US is a signatory: the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. To comply with the US’s obligations to the treaty, which declares marijuana dangerous and banned, the definition must be updated to include a marijuana-like product such as CBD.
Along with its sexier and more lucrative recreational marijuana industry, America also has a nascent industrial hemp industry, worth possibly half a billion dollars, compared to the $7 billion California’s marijuana industry is worth alone. The major difference is that there’s potential for a hemp industry in 50 states—or at least there was, prior to the DEA’s December 2016 decision that CBD, and any other “cannabis extract” that also contains a single cannabinoid , is absolutely marijuana and thus subject to enforcement.
CBD is found in marijuana, a plant that’s banned at the federal level. But CBD is also found in industrial hemp—a plant that Americans can legally cultivate.
Thursday’s hearing drew a slew of attorneys from across the country as well as hemp industry figures. Opinion was split as to how the hearing went. “That was rough,” one said, finding an ill omen in the judges’ references to the UN treaties.
Hence Monday’s operation. By the time “Operation Candy Crush” was through, 23 stores alleged to have sold CBD-laced candies were shut down as “public nuisances,” according to prosecutors, and 21 people were arrested. They’ll face indictments in state court that will be unsealed Friday.
“The definition of marijuana is cannabis that is above .3 Delta-9-THC plus THCA times .877,” said Alex Petrick, a hemp distributor.”Delta-8 on the other hand is not mentioned anywhere regarding marijuana in any situation or context.”
The product is so new, several law enforcement agencies contacted by WFSU, including the Florida Department of Law Enforcement were not aware of it. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office says it’s reviewing the DEA’s action. State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who oversees Florida’s hemp program, says Delta-8-THC is likely here to stay.
Gordon believes the rule by the DEA will be overturned in court since the Farm Bill legalized all parts of the hemp plant.