The US Department of Justice has cannabis listed as a Schedule 1 Drug, never mind the fact that CBD (cannabidiol), its nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, doesn’t produce any hallucinogenic and psychoactive effects and has the potential to alleviate several chronic conditions. But because CBD is classified as such, this compound isn’t considered to have any medicinal value, that it has a “high potential for abuse,” and that it is illegal.
State Medical Cannabis Laws – A Workaround to Benefit Patients
Under federal laws, CBD is illegal. But because of state laws, several states were able to pass their own medical cannabis laws.
The first state law that allowed the use of medical cannabis was enacted in 1996 in California. The state’s legalization of medical cannabis sparked a trend which rapidly spread across the country, leading to several states also implementing their own medical cannabis laws. To date, there are 29 states as well as Washington, DC where medical cannabis is legal.
This doesn’t mean though that state laws will prevail over federal laws, but the past administration released several memos that protected cannabis-friendly states. As long as the cannabis industry complies with the state laws and doesn’t threaten federal drug laws, they will have protection from federal prosecution.
A Tough Battle
Despite CBD’s known therapeutic and medicinal benefits, these states still face a tough battle against the Department of Justice’s DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) arm as CBD remains a Schedule 1 Drug.
Amidst the clamor for CBD’s declassification though, the federal government doesn’t seem to be budging. In fact, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently rescinded several policies that protect cannabis-friendly states.
A Shining Beacon of Light
Last December 2017, cannabis supporters found a surprising ally in the biggest international health organization in the world, the WHO (World Health Organization). WHO released a statement saying that CBD, in its own right, should not be classified as a controlled substance internationally.
According to WHO’s ECDD (Expert Committee on Drug Dependence), CBD doesn’t seem to pose any abuse potential nor does it appear to cause any harmful effects. Although WHO doesn’t yet recommend the use of CBD for any medicinal purposes, the organization does admit that CBD has therapeutic values, particularly for epileptic seizures and other chronic medical problems. ECDD even concluded that the current information on CBD does not justify its scheduling as a controlled substance.
This finding by ECDD is just a preliminary report. They will still have to conduct a more extensive study and assessment of cannabis, including CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids and substances found in the plant. This study will start in June of 2018.
The Potential Impact on Medical Cannabis
WHO’s statement is great news to the supporters of medical cannabis. Not only will this encourage more research on CBD, but it will also strengthen the support for medical cannabis legalization.
As to the effects of WHO’s statements on the US Department of Justice stance against cannabis, we’ll have to wait and see. But one thing is certain. This will definitely push for more informed, intelligent, and earnest discourse on the subject. With 64% of Americans in favor of legalizing cannabis, the highest public support level according to Gallup, the voting public is going to ask for the much-needed change in federal cannabis laws.