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Red Cross Meets Green Cross

CannaCraft, Red Cross

A major legal medical marijuana factory in Northern California has become the headquarters of the American Red Cross’ relief efforts for tens of thousands of displaced evacuees fleeing the state’s historic series of wildfires.
By David Downs On October 17, 2017

From Greenstate.com

A major legal medical marijuana factory in Northern California has become the headquarters of the American Red Cross’ relief efforts for tens of thousands of displaced evacuees fleeing the state’s historic series of wildfires.

The 140-employee company CannaCraft in Santa Rosa is feeding and hosting 200 Red Cross staff for the next five weeks, said Kial Long, spokeswoman at the company. CannaCraft is providing 12,000 square-feet of office space to be used as the American Red Cross Regional Headquarters for Northern California fire relief.

Cannabis remains a federally banned controlled substance considered as dangerous as heroin. But eight states and Washington D.C. have legalized its over the counter use by adults 21 and over. Twenty-nine states have medical cannabis laws. Some 61 percent of U.S. voters support cannabis legalization and 91 percent support medical access to the pain-relieving botanical drug.

Hosting the Red Cross came out of company discussions about ways to help. After surveying available space and equipment, CannaCraft leaders reached out to the Red Cross and offered office space. The Red Cross sent a project leader over to evaluate the space.

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Fire, Brimstone & Dioxin

Fire and cannabis

Heavy smoke has blanketed the skies in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area, poisoning the air to an unprecedented degree and prompting air quality alerts and health advisories throughout the region.
By Adrian Devitt-Lee On October 16, 2017

Toxic Smoke Threatens Cannabis Crop and Public Health
Highlights:
  • Smoke from major fires will contaminate crops in Northern California’s prime cannabis-growing region.
  • Cannabis, a bioaccumulator, will uptake heavy metals from the soil that have deposited on the ground.
  • Analytical labs should test cannabis products for an array of fire-related heavy metals, aromatic hydrocarbons, and dioxins, even those that are not mandated by regulations.

The October firestorms raging in Northern California have incinerated nearly a quarter million acres and displaced more than 100,000 residents. Heavy smoke has blanketed the skies in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area, poisoning the air to an unprecedented degree and prompting air quality alerts and health advisories throughout the region.

“We have never recorded higher levels of air pollution in the Bay Area,” said air district spokeswoman Kristine Roselius.

While a limited number of deaths have been reported thus far, the public health impacts of this disaster will be felt for many months to come. This is not a typical wildfire; in Santa Rosa, flames have melted gas pipes, power lines, even a cellphone tower. The blaze has scorched thousands of homes and cars, releasing metals into the air. Rubber, fibreglass, paint, and electrical equipment burn to uncommon and highly dangerous toxins, such as dioxins and other biphenyl compounds.

Poisons contained in the smoke will slowly fall from the air and be absorbed by plants and the watershed, contaminating agricultural crops, including those in the Emerald Triangle, America’s cannabis breadbasket. The timing couldn’t have been worse for cannabis farmers as these fires came at the start of harvest season. Cannabis producers and consumers need to be cautious about the chemicals that could accumulate.

There are three common ways that toxins and carcinogens in smoke can be removed from the atmosphere:

  • Volatile chemicals like formaldehyde and carbon monoxide will dissipate by reacting with trace gasses in the air, perturbing the concentration of ozone and other gasses. When carbon monoxide reacts with oxygen radicals, for example, it converts to carbon dioxide.
  • Hardier chemicals may be removed from the sky by wet deposition, whereby rain pulls pollution out of the atmosphere. But that requires precipitation. And if it rains, highly toxic run-off will pollute the watershed.
  • Other chemicals will simply fall from the sky and deposit onto plants, soil, and other solid surfaces. These compounds include benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and dioxins. The chemicals that settle on cannabis or nearby water and soil can be absorbed by the plant and passed on to the consumer. Cannabis, a bioaccumulator, will uptake heavy metals from the soil that have deposited on the ground.

While these toxins can pose serious health hazards, it is important not to exaggerate harms. Cannabis smoke (even from untainted, organically grown cannabis) also contains carcinogens, but smoking marijuana does not increase the risk of oral and lung cancers—possibly because THC, CBD, and other plant cannabinoids exert a direct anti-tumor action against oral and lung cancer.

Another factor that may mitigate harm from inhaled cannabis smoke is the inhibition of a group of enzymes called CYP1A. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons become more carcinogenic when metabolized by CYP1A enzymes in the body: By inhibiting CYP1A in the lungs, cannabinoids could reduce the activation of these carcinogens.

In cannabis smoke, roughly 0.5% of the plant material converts to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. That is 5000 parts per million by weight (ppm). Carcinogenicity of aromatic hydrocarbons is usually discussed at concentrations on the order of 10 ppm.1 It remains to be seen if toxins deposited by the fires will be greater than the concentrations normally found in cannabis smoke. If not, then this cannabis is likely safe to consume (though it may require a warning under prop 65). To reduce further toxicity, it would be best for people to avoid smoking cannabis tainted by the wildfires: vaporization and ingestion are alternatives.

But consumers should also be aware that extraction processes (including butane, ethanol, and CO2) may concentrate these unwanted chemicals, though this is not precisely known. Cannabis producers and consumers should make sure, if possible, that any lab tests apply to the final product, not just the plant material that was used for extraction.

Accurate testing is paramount. Unfortunately, some cannabis labs have a record of providing results before they have validated their methods and can be certain that their numbers are correct. (Validation involves spiking precise amounts of contaminants into clean cannabis samples to ensure that accurate results are obtained.)

Several fire-generated toxins that may be deposited on cannabis crops—including benzene and toluene—are on the list of regulated solvents that California labs will likely have to quantify in cannabis products as of 2018. In preparation for the upcoming regulations, analytical labs may have already validated methods for detecting these compounds.

But other, less common toxins, such as benzopyrenes and polychlorinated dibenzo dioxins (PCDDs; sometimes simply called dioxins), are not included in the new regulations. Dioxins are particularly important: they are formed when chlorinated plastics burn, such as PVC pipes. One kind of dioxin, which is called TCDD, disrupts endocrine, immune, and reproductive systems as well as fetal development. It is also a carcinogen at larger concentrations. (TCDD was also a contaminant in Agent Orange, a chemical weapon created by Monsanto and used in the Vietnam war.)2

Whether mandated by state regulations or not, cannabis labs should also test for these compounds.3 Thus far, however, cannabis labs have not validated testing procedures for these compounds.

Another concern: helicopters and planes have been dumping tons of fire-repellant in an effort to contain the fires. The fire-repellant used, another Monsanto-designed product called Phos-Chek, may also have adverse health consequences. One of the main constituents of Phos-Chek is ammonium salt. Ammonium is a fertilizer: If absorbed through the plant, it is unlikely to be toxic, but smoking or vaporizing ammonium stuck on cannabis resin should be avoided.4

Project CBD hopes that some lab in California will validate methods and offer tests to detect the major contaminants that result from the wildfires. We expect these will include benzene, toluene, benzopyrenes, and heavy metals, as well as some dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls.

Adrian Devitt-Lee, a Project CBD contributing writer, is a senior research associate with CannaCraft.

Footnotes:

  1. Parts per million is a unit that can cause some confusion. It can mean concentration by weight (ppmw) or by volume (ppmv). When discussing cannabis and lab tests, parts per million is measured in weight: ppmw means microgram of contaminant per gram of cannabis. (A microgram, written µg, is one millionth of a gram.) But when talking about safety data, especially for inhaled compounds, parts per million is usually micrograms of contaminant per liter of air. This makes it much easier to determine the concentration of contaminants in a person’s lung. Since an adult human’s lungs contain about 4-6 liters and a joint weighs about half a gram, ppmv is roughly 10 times larger than ppmw. In other words, the lab test for a contaminant should be no more than 10 times larger than the safety parameter for inhaling that contaminant. This is a rule of thumb, not a definitive statement. See the report in footnote 4 for more information on safety data.
  2. TCDD is pervasive in the environment. It can be found at low concentrations in milk and meat, with beef being the worst offender. This is partly because dioxins are extremely durable compounds—the half life of TCDD is close to 10 years. The average human body has roughly 1-5 parts per trillion dioxin in their fat tissue (that is, 1-5 picograms of dioxin per gram of fat). These levels have been declining greatly since the 1970s.
  3. This list is not finalized. The proposed regulations were repealed after the public comment period by the trailer bill, the bill that merged recreation and medical cannabis regulations. The new regulations have not yet been released.
  4. Inhaling ammonia in cannabis at concentrations below 100 ppm is likely safe. 100 ppm means 100 µg ammonia per g cannabis product. The number is based on the equation described Appendix A of this report by Project CBD. Using the terminology from that document, the STEL for ammonia is 27 µg/L. It is reasonable to assume that children use less than 0.25 grams of cannabis and that adults use less than 1 gram of cannabis in a 15 minute period. This increases the estimates in the document by a factor of four.

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The Origins of Reefer Madness [Book Excerpt]

The War on Cannabis "Reefer Madness"

On August 11, 1930, Harry Jacob Anslinger became the director of the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) in Washington, D.C. The Voldemort of vipers, he would run the FBN with an iron fist through six presidential administrations spanning more than three decades.
By Martin A. Lee On October 15, 2017

Excerpted from Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana—Medical, Recreational and Scientific. Reprinted at FAIR online.

Yellow Journalism and the Anti-Cannabis Crusade

On August 11, 1930, Harry Jacob Anslinger became the director of the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) in Washington, D.C. He would run the FBN with an iron fist through six presidential administrations spanning more than three decades.

An imposing, husky, bull-necked figure nearly six feet tall, he looked like a tough law-and-order drug buster. With a large square head, huge ears, a cleft chin, and glowering eyes, Anslinger took great pride in his role as the archnemesis of marijuana smokers. He was the godfather of America’s war on drugs, and his influence on public policy would be felt long after death stiffened his fingers in 1975.

When Anslinger grabbed the reins at the FBN, marijuana had already been banned in 24 U.S. states, but there still was no coordinated federal attempt to outlaw the plant. During its first few years, the FBN issued annual reports that minimized the marijuana problem, which Anslinger believed was best dealt with by state and local officials.

The stuff grows “like dandelions,” he complained. Trying to stamp out a plant that flourished everywhere in the world except Antarctica and the Arctic Circle seemed like a dubious proposition. Anslinger had only 300 G-men on his roster, hardly enough to tackle heroin and cocaine, let alone a common weed.

Anslinger didn’t pay much attention to cannabis until 1934, when the FBN was floundering. Tax revenues plummeted during the Great Depression, the bureau’s budget got slashed, and Harry’s entire department was on the chopping block. Then he saw the light and realized that marijuana just might be the perfect hook to hang his hat on. A savvy operator and an extremely ambitious man, he set out to convince Congress and the American public that a terrible new drug menace was threatening the country, one that required immediate action by a well-funded Federal Bureau of Narcotics.

Determined to criminalize the herb and build his bureaucratic fiefdom, America’s top narc promoted all the hoary myths about marijuana-induced mayhem and sexual depravity—stories of pot-crazed axe murderers, playground pushers, sordid drug dens and buxom reefer babes whose lives were ruined by the drug.

“If the hideous monster Frankenstein came face-to-face with the hideous monster Marihuana, he would drop dead of fright,” declared the FBN chief (Washington Herald, 4/1⅔7). Anslinger pulled no punches as he orchestrated a nationwide campaign against marijuana, “the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”

In the world according to Anslinger, cannabis was a deadly, addictive drug that enslaved its users and turned them into deranged criminal freaks. He fed titillating tidbits to reporters, who wrote articles that the FBN chief would then cite in making the case that society was in imminent danger of moral collapse because of marijuana.

Anslinger whipped up enthusiasm for the cause in speeches to temperance organizations, religious groups and civic clubs around the country. His anti-cannabis confabulations were given credence by hellfire-and-brimstone preachers who castigated hemp smokers as fallen sinners. A plant that provided the paper on which Gutenberg first printed the Bible was denounced as “the Devil’s weed.”

Perhaps it was the constant pressure from waging war against a figment of his imagination, or maybe his job was simply too demanding, but on April 1, 1935, an angst-ridden Anslinger checked into the U.S. Marine hospital in Norfolk, Virginia. The FBN chief complained of exhaustion and insomnia—he woke up too early and couldn’t get back to sleep, a condition, ironically, which was treatable with cannabis.

While Anslinger convalesced, others picked up the slack. The FBN chief had a strong ally in the press baron William Randolph Hearst, a megalomaniac obsessed with marijuana, whose newspaper chain stretched across the nation. With an instinc-tual grasp of mass psychology, Hearst used his media empire to influence public policy (as when he pushed the U.S. government into war with Spain in 1898). His contempt for facts, his penchant for fabricated stories and doctored photos, and the hysterical tone of his newspapers gave rise to the pejorative expression “yellow journalism.”

Hearst launched a smear campaign against Mexican migrants and their herb of choice. “Murder Weed Found Up and Down Coast—Deadly Marihuana Dope Plant Ready for Harvest That Means Enslavement of California Children,” the Los Angeles Examiner (1⅕/33) screeched in 1933.

By stigmatizing marijuana and the “foreigners” who smoked it, Hearst succeeded in exacerbating anti-Mexican sentiment during the Great Depression, when many Anglos felt they were competing with brown-skinned migrants for scarce jobs. More than 2 million Mexicans, who had been welcomed while the U.S. economy boomed in the 1920s, were deported when it faltered in the 1930s—a policy of ethnic cleansing vociferously championed by the Hearst conglomerate.

Hearst also cheered the rise of fascist forces in Europe. “Mussolini Leads Way in Crushing Dope Evil” was the headline of a Hearst press screed (3/9/28) that combined two of the owner’s pet passions—his support for fascism and the war on narcotics. Hearst Sunday papers published columns by German Nazi leaders, who conveyed Hitler’s point of view to 30 million readers without space for rebuttal.

During the Third Reich, the verminization of religious and ethnic minorities went hand in hand with Rauschgiftbekämpfung, the “combating of drugs” to promote racial hygiene. Nazi racialist policies and the demonization of marijuana by Anslinger and Hearst were parallel historical phenomena—both exploited fear and hatred of the Other.

The FBN commissioner understood that the likelihood of prohibitory legislation increased if the substance in question was associated with ethnic minorities. Thus Anslinger disclosed in 1936 that 50 percent of violent crimes committed in districts occupied by “Mexicans, Greeks, Turks, Filipinos, Spaniards, Latin Americans and Negroes may be traced to the use of marihuana.” The headlines and the plotlines were antidrug and anticrime, but the subtext was always about race.

Anslinger brandished the non-English term like a truncheon to emphasize the weed’s connection to alien elements that crept over the Mexican border into the United States. Popularized during the Depression, the new name marihuana was, in effect, the evil twin of cannabis, a word familiar to Americans as a medicinal ingredient.

Anslinger eschewed references to benign-sounding cannabis and hemp, while calling for a federal ban on marihuana. Very few Americans knew that marijuana, the weed that some blacks and Chicanos were smoking, was merely a weaker version of the concentrated cannabis medicines that everyone had been taking since childhood.

To gain public support for his crusade, Anslinger depicted marijuana as a sinister substance that made Mexican and African-American men lust after white women. One of the worst things about marijuana, according to the FBN chief, was that it promoted sexual contact across color lines. “Marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes,” Anslinger frothed. He rang alarm bells in segregated America, warning that blacks and whites were dancing cheek-to-cheek in tea houses and nightclubs, where pot-maddened jazz bands performed what the Hearst papers called “voodoo-satanic music.”

In addition to hexing blacks and Mexicans, Anslinger’s antimarijuana diatribes served as a not-so-subtle reminder to white women, who had only recently won the right to vote, that they still needed strong men to protect them from the “degenerate races.” He never tired of telling new versions of the same morality tale, which featured a vulnerable young white woman whose tragic downfall is triggered by smoking marijuana with dark-skinned rogues.

During the run-up to federal legislation that banned cannabis, Anslinger pounded home the message: White women are in mortal peril because of marijuana—and so are American children. That was the upshot of a July 1937 American Magazine article by Anslinger, entitled “Assassin of Youth,” which led with the usual purple prose:

“How many murders, suicides, robberies, criminal assaults, holdups, burglaries and deeds of maniacal insanity it causes each year, especially among the young, can only be conjectured,” the FBN chief warned.

With Anslinger pitching script ideas, cannabis was demonized in several low-budget exploitation flicks, some of which were financed by major distilling companies that stood to lose sizable sums if marijuana were a legal competitor.

The film Marijuana! (1935) featured the lurid tagline “Weird orgies! Wild parties! Unleashed passions!” But when it came to ridiculous anti-marijuana propaganda, nothing could top Hot Fingers Pirelli, the bug-eyed piano player who pounds out jazz tunes in Tell Your Children (1936), better known by its later title Reefer Madness.

A perverted pot addict, Pirelli sneaks into a closet and fires up the Devil’s doob, prompting frightful facial twitches as he morphs into an insane killer. Drug-policy critic Jacob Sullum (Saying Yes) calls it “voodoo pharmacology”—the idea that certain substances are molecularly program-med to compel weird, immoral behavior.

Although it bombed at the box office, Reefer Madness was destined to become a cult humor classic among American college students in later years. A vivid example of the national frenzy that set the stage for federal pot prohibition, this film epitomized the synchronicity among Washington, Hollywood and mainstream media in the war against cannabis.

In April 1937, Rep. Robert L. Doughton of North Carolina introduced House Bill 6385, which sought to prohibit the use of marijuana by imposing an exorbitant tax on the drug. When he testified before the House Ways and Means Committee, Harry Anslinger trotted out examples from the “Gore File,” his infamous scrapbook full of Hearst press editorials, racial slurs and anecdotal accounts of horrific murders falsely attributed to marijuana smokers. Bereft of actual scientific data to back up his reefer madness claims, the FBN director presented no evidence of a statistical correlation between marijuana use and criminal behavior.

Members of Congress held only two one-hour hearings to consider the Marihuana Tax Act. The final witness and lone voice of dissent was Dr. William Woodward, the legislative counsel for the American Medical Association, who challenged Anslinger’s claim that cannabis was a dangerous drug with no therapeutic value. AMA doctors, Woodward asserted, were wholly unaware that the “killer weed from Mexico” was actually cannabis. He accurately predicted that federal legislation banning marijuana would strangle any medical use of the plant.

Just four years after relegalizing the consumption of liquor, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Marihuana Tax Act by a voice vote without a recorded tally. Signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt without fanfare, the law went into effect on October 1, 1937. It was a day of infamy for pot smokers everywhere. Yellow journalism, racial bias and political opportunism had triumphed over medical science and common sense.

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Copyright, Project CBD. May not be reprinted without permission.

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Target Sold CBD Online: Was it Legal?

BuzzFeed recently reported on Target’s short-lived effort at selling cannabis-based products online. By the end of the day on which the story ran, the major retailer had already removed the product from its website. The Phoenix New Times quoted Target spokesperson Kate Decker as saying, “We started carrying Charlotte’s Web hemp extract items last week on Target.com. After further review, we have decided to remove it from our assortment.” However, the Phoenix New Times reported earlier in September that Target was selling CBD products online. Decker could not confirm exactly when Target started selling CBD. The only certainty is that it ended the same day as BuzzFeed’s article.

The thing is that many online retailers (WalMart, Groupon, and Amazon) sell or have sold CBD online. This is in part likely because of the complex legal status of CBD. The Drug Enforcement Agency’s (“DEA”) stance is that CBD, and other cannabinoids derived from cannabis, are Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”), regardless of their source. Last year the DEA created a rule defining “marihuana extract” as an extract “containing one or more cannabinoids derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis,” as marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance. Use of “any” means it applies to any derivative of the cannabis plant including, CBD and other cannabinoids found in cannabis. This far-reaching definition, on its face, purports to make parts of the cannabis plant that were seemingly legal illegal.

Setting aside the Rule, there are three scenarios in which cannabis extracts are arguably legal under federal law. The first being when extracts are derived from the “mature stalk” of the cannabis plant because the CSA’s definition of marijuana “does not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.” 21 USC § 802(16). The DEA has clarified that the Rule does not include portions of the plant specifically exempt from the CSA’s definition of marijuana but also maintains that products that contain any meaningful amount of CBD can be derived from the mature stalks.

The second scenario is when extracts are derived from an industrial hemp plant lawfully grown in compliance with section 7606 of the 2014 US Farm Bill (“the Farm Bill”). The Farm Bill allows states to enact pilot programs for hemp research making hemp legal in the state’s borders. Hemp cultivated in compliance with a State’s program is expressly legal under the Farm Bill. Extracts from compliant hemp are legal in the State in which they were derived though the sale of these products in other states is not explicitly allowed.

The final scenario is when products are derived from imported hemp. In the early 2000s, two cases out of the Ninth Circuit, Hemp Indus. Ass’n v. DEA, 357 F.3d 1012 (9th Cir. Cal. 2004) and Hemp Indus. Ass’n v. DEA, 333 F.3d 1082 (9th Cir. 2003) determined that the DEA cannot regulate hemp products simply because they contain trace amounts of THC. This is because some portions of the cannabis plant are explicitly outside the scope of the CSA and the DEA was not permitted to expand its scope to encompass all parts the plant. At the time of the ruling, it was illegal to grow hemp so it only applied to hemp imported from outside the USA. However, its holding could also apply to hemp grown pursuant to the Farm Bill. In other words, marijuana extracts from non-psychoactive (industrial) hemp with only trace amounts (or less) of naturally occurring THC are permitted under the Ninth Circuit’s ruling.

The Hemp Industries Association has sued the DEA over the “marijuana extract” rule and that case is still pending and until it is decided, uncertainty remains as to the legality of CBD products. The DEA may very well lose because the Rule appears to conflict with the Farm Bill and the Hemp Industry cases from the early 2000s. Nonetheless, despite potential legal flaws, the Rule is currently in place and anyone who distributes “marijuana extracts” is a potential target of the DEA. This is likely why online retailers like Target have flirted with selling CBD products online but often end up pulling products.

Read More

Target Sold CBD Online: Was it Legal?

BuzzFeed recently reported on Target’s short-lived effort at selling cannabis-based products online. By the end of the day on which the story ran, the major retailer had already removed the product from its website. The Phoenix New Times quoted Target spokesperson Kate Decker as saying, “We started carrying Charlotte’s Web hemp extract items last week on Target.com. After further review, we have decided to remove it from our assortment.” However, the Phoenix New Times reported earlier in September that Target was selling CBD products online. Decker could not confirm exactly when Target started selling CBD. The only certainty is that it ended the same day as BuzzFeed’s article.

The thing is that many online retailers (WalMart, Groupon, and Amazon) sell or have sold CBD online. This is in part likely because of the complex legal status of CBD. The Drug Enforcement Agency’s (“DEA”) stance is that CBD, and other cannabinoids derived from cannabis, are Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”), regardless of their source. Last year the DEA created a rule defining “marihuana extract” as an extract “containing one or more cannabinoids derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis,” as marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance. Use of “any” means it applies to any derivative of the cannabis plant including, CBD and other cannabinoids found in cannabis. This far-reaching definition, on its face, purports to make parts of the cannabis plant that were seemingly legal illegal.

Setting aside the Rule, there are three scenarios in which cannabis extracts are arguably legal under federal law. The first being when extracts are derived from the “mature stalk” of the cannabis plant because the CSA’s definition of marijuana “does not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.” 21 USC § 802(16). The DEA has clarified that the Rule does not include portions of the plant specifically exempt from the CSA’s definition of marijuana but also maintains that products that contain any meaningful amount of CBD can be derived from the mature stalks.

The second scenario is when extracts are derived from an industrial hemp plant lawfully grown in compliance with section 7606 of the 2014 US Farm Bill (“the Farm Bill”). The Farm Bill allows states to enact pilot programs for hemp research making hemp legal in the state’s borders. Hemp cultivated in compliance with a State’s program is expressly legal under the Farm Bill. Extracts from compliant hemp are legal in the State in which they were derived though the sale of these products in other states is not explicitly allowed.

The final scenario is when products are derived from imported hemp. In the early 2000s, two cases out of the Ninth Circuit, Hemp Indus. Ass’n v. DEA, 357 F.3d 1012 (9th Cir. Cal. 2004) and Hemp Indus. Ass’n v. DEA, 333 F.3d 1082 (9th Cir. 2003) determined that the DEA cannot regulate hemp products simply because they contain trace amounts of THC. This is because some portions of the cannabis plant are explicitly outside the scope of the CSA and the DEA was not permitted to expand its scope to encompass all parts the plant. At the time of the ruling, it was illegal to grow hemp so it only applied to hemp imported from outside the USA. However, its holding could also apply to hemp grown pursuant to the Farm Bill. In other words, marijuana extracts from non-psychoactive (industrial) hemp with only trace amounts (or less) of naturally occurring THC are permitted under the Ninth Circuit’s ruling.

The Hemp Industries Association has sued the DEA over the “marijuana extract” rule and that case is still pending and until it is decided, uncertainty remains as to the legality of CBD products. The DEA may very well lose because the Rule appears to conflict with the Farm Bill and the Hemp Industry cases from the early 2000s. Nonetheless, despite potential legal flaws, the Rule is currently in place and anyone who distributes “marijuana extracts” is a potential target of the DEA. This is likely why online retailers like Target have flirted with selling CBD products online but often end up pulling products.

Read More