The battle lines are heating up between the marijuana marketplace and the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Last Wednesday, the DEA slipped an update in the Federal Register that established a new drug code for marijuana extracts. The move panicked the industry, which is already nervous with the new administration coming in. Millions are at stake for several publicly traded companies that have invested years in marketing products based on the extract called cannabidiol, or CBD.
The DEA seemed to believe it was much ado about nothing and was merely a move meant to better track research into extracts separately from marijuana and better comply with international treaties. Russ Baer, a spokesman for the DEA said, “The FRN published earlier this week did not have anything to do with re-scheduling CBD or anything at all to do with hemp.”
However, fear that the new attorney general could reverse legalization efforts has the marijuana industry on high alert. For many, last week’s move is seen as the first shot across the bow in the renewed
battle over CBD.
Attorney Michael Cindrich said, “I think the DEA is testing how this president’s administration will respond to the marijuana issue. A push by the DEA to both regulate this and other related products is testing the waters as to the level of control.”
The ruling was initiated in 2011, but not finalized until now. Dr. Stuart Titus chief executive officer of Medical Marijuana Inc., a leading CBD product developer, agreed that the timing of the final ruling was interesting. “It was a back burner issue for the new administration and this may have moved it to a front burner issue.”
The marijuana plant contains two main compounds -THC which gives the effect of being “high,” and cannabidiol, or CBD, which doesn’t have any psychoactive effects, but which researchers believe has medical value. CBD can be extracted not only from marijuana plants, but also hemp plants as well. The market for CBD products is expected to top $1 billion market by 2020.