In a surprise move, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) clarified its stance on cannabis extracts, maintaining that they are also considered Schedule I substances, alongside marijuana, LSD, heroin, and ecstasy. This includes the non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD), a component of the marijuana plant known for its medicinal properties.

The DEA quietly changed the current law and introduced the rule on December 14th, entitled:  “Establishment of a New Drug Code for Marihuana Extract.”  The DEA states it’s, “creating a separate code number for marihuana extract with the following definition: ‘Meaning an extract containing one or more cannabinoids that has been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis, other than the separated resin (whether crude or purified) obtained from the plant.’ Extracts of marihuana will continue to be treated as Schedule I controlled substances.”

In layman’s terms, the declaration means that oils and tinctures are also still illegal under federal law, specifically the cannabinoid CBD. Despite the fact that CBD has no psychoactive effects, the DEA decided to target it and other cannabis-based extracts. CBD has gained popularity in recent years thanks to its efficacy in treating a variety of illnesses, most notably epilepsy.

“For practical purposes, all extracts that contain CBD will also contain at least small amounts of other cannabinoids,” the DEA said. “However, if it were possible to produce from the cannabis plant an extract that contained only CBD and no other cannabinoids, such an extract would fall within the new drug code.”

Critics of the move believe it was done to appease criticism and may not even be a valid decision. In a recent Leafy interview, Colorado attorney Robert Hoban stated that the declaration was, “beyond the DEA’s authority.”

“The DEA can only carry out the law, they cannot create it,” said Hoban. “Here they’re purporting to create an entirely new category called ‘marijuana extracts,’ and by doing so wrest control over all cannabinoids. They want to call all cannabinoids illegal. But they don’t have the authority to do that.”

Hoban went on to say that the directive could threaten thousands of patients – and jobs. Investments made in the cannabis extract business are in the millions, with dedicated professionals working around the clock to get potentially life-saving CBD to those who need it most.

“We will see the federal government in court,” Hoban said.