Hemp as a Schedule I Narcotic
From 1968 to 1970 the U.S. Bureau of Narcotic became the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Alongside re-branding, the transition moved narcotic jurisdiction from the Department of Treasury to the Department of Justice. Since its inception in 1970, the DEA has regulated industrial hemp under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA). Under this act, hemp is considered a Schedule I Controlled Substance, defined under marihuana (cannabis) and/or Tetrahydrocannabinols. The CSA states control over,
“any material, compound, mixture, or preparation, which contains any quantity of the following hallucinogenic substances.”
This includes marihuana, tetrahydrocannabinols, and marihuana extract other than the separated resin obtained from the plant.
The Drug Enforcement Agency defines Schedule I Controlled Substances as having,
1. No currently accepted medical use in the United States,
2. A lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and
3. A high potential for abuse.
Other drugs in this category include: heroin, LSD and Ecstasy.
History Proves Medical Use of Hemp
Regulation of the production of hemp as a Schedule I Narcotic is extreme when we consider it is a superfood, fiber crop and the U.S. Pharmacopeia listed cannabis (hemp) as containing therapeutic attributes in the 1800s and early 1900s. In addition, studies throughout time have shown that cannabis, especially non-psychoactive industrial hemp, do not have potential for abuse.
In comparison, studies have shown its cousin, marihuana creates habitual use but is non-addictive, especially when compared to some of the Schedule II Controlled Substances that have caused thousands of deaths in the more recent opioid epidemic.
Last, it is a bit odd for the federal government to state there is no accepted medical use for cannabis hemp, when one of their own federal agencies holds a patent for the plant’s compounds.
In 2003 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services became the assignee on cannabis’ cannabinoid compounds as an antioxidant and neuroprotectant. But this research is breakthrough for the industry as a whole.
Even with all the obvious evidence of medical properties, the Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Agency still considers cannabis to have no medicinal properties.
Known Dangerous Narcotics Are Less Regulated
Conversely, drugs defined as Schedule II and IIN Controlled Substances,
1. Have a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence…
2. The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, or
3. A currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions.
Drugs in this category include: morphine, codeine, methadone, opium, and methamphetamine.
The Scheduled Controlled Substances continue through Scheduled V Substances where the control over these drugs depends on the psychological or physical dependence, potential for abuse, and their medical acceptance. Some drugs found throughout these categories include, ketamine, and anabolic steroids, diazepam (Valium®), and alprazolam (Xanax®), among others.
What Does It Mean For Hemp?
Technically, industrial hemp is still categorized with “marihuana,” “tetrahydrocannabinols,” and the DEA’s new category “marihuana extract” as a Schedule I Narcotic. Yes, a plant variety whose purpose is for commercial industries like construction and health foods, has little psychoactive drug and zero potential for dependency, is controlled as strictly as addictive drugs like heroin and more harshly controlled than drugs like methadone, opium, methamphetamine and ketamine.
However, there is good news!
Fortunately, the 2014 Farm Bill protects hemp production for research purposes and at pilot scales in states with proper legislation. The research includes the all-important marketing, meaning the sale of hemp-derived products. In this manner the sale of hemp-derived goods produced in a hemp pilot program is legal.
It has been a long ride since 1937, and the industry still has many road blocks ahead, particularly as re-scheduling occurs and pharmaceutical powerhouses enter the markets. Stay on your toes!