The FDA says CBD should not be a controlled substance, but international treaties are forcing the US to treat it like one. This determination was made while the FDA was reviewing the CBD-based medication Epidiolex, which was officially approved in June and received a Schedule V classification by the DEA in September. The FDA states that CBD has “negligible potential for abuse” and does not match the description of a Schedule V substance. This acknowledgment by the FDA bodes well for the acceptance of CBD by federal regulators and should lead to increasing societal acceptance.
In a letter to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has revealed that cannabidiol (CBD) should not be classified as a controlled substance, but international treaties require the US to treat it like one.
This letter was written in May 2018 after GW Pharmaceuticals, a UK-based pharmaceutical company that creates cannabis-based medications, sent its Epidiolex medication for FDA approval. Epidiolex is a CBD-based medicine meant to treat rare forms of childhood epilepsy.
The FDA approved Epidiolex in June, forcing the DEA to reschedule CBD, which was classified as a Schedule I drug at the time. Schedule I drugs are described as having high abuse potential and no accepted medical use.
The DEA, based on the recommendation by the FDA in the administration’s letter, classified CBD as a Schedule V substance in September, the lowest possible designation. Schedule V substances have an accepted medical use and feature the lowest potential for abuse of controlled substances.
However, the FDA believes CBD should not even be included in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), stating, “we find that CBD does not meet the criteria for placement in any of Schedules II, III, IV, or V under the CSA.”
According to the FDA’s letter, CBD has “negligible potential for abuse” as compared to the other substances in Schedule V and does not induce dependence or withdrawal symptoms.
This essentially means CBD has been shown to be non-toxic and does not lead to addiction. In fact, a review by researchers at the Université de Montréal shows CBD may possess the potential to treat addictive behaviors.
Also, as a result of the FDA’s approval of Epidiolex, CBD now has an accepted medical use.
CBD may potentially be removed from the CSA in the future.
The FDA states that, “If treaty obligations do not require control of CBD… the above recommendation for Schedule V under the CSA would need be revisited promptly….”
This statement provides hope that CBD will one day be removed, but it also means several countries will need to be convinced of what the FDA has recently concluded.
Fortunately, international acceptance of CBD has been growing.
Last year, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from its banned substance list for international athletes.
Also, Canada recently made recreational marijuana legal nationwide, effective October 17, 2018, joining a handful of other nations.
As marijuana and CBD legalization increases around the world, it seems likely that CBD will be removed from the CSA and enjoy fewer restrictions.
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