Court Rejects Challenge to DEA Rule, Leaving CBD Federally Illegal

In a decision likely only to add to the legal confusion around cannabidiol (CBD) in the United States, a federal appellate court in California has rejected an industry challenge to a DEA rule that effectively outlawed the cannabinoid.

The rule, which the DEA published in 2016, established a new Controlled Substances Act drug code for “marihuana extract,” putting even hemp-derived extracts in the same restrictive Schedule I category as psychoactive THC. In doing so, the new rule set the stage for a wave of raids on CBD retailers and related businesses.

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Bob Hoban of Hoban Law Group, a Denver-based attorney who represented the industry group in the challenge, said he was disappointed by the ruling.

“Given the pervasive confusion and irreconcilable conflicts of the law that have led to product seizures, arrests and criminal charges against those involved in the lawful hemp industry, the Petitioners believe that the Final Rule must be invalidated, absent the Court clarifying and further resolving these conflicts and their severe consequences,” he wrote in an emailed statement.