Are you confused about the Drug Enforcement Agency’s stance on hemp? Well, join the crowd - the DEA was originally DOA when it came to clarification. Some people viewed their recent actions as nothing more than an administrative move, while others prepared themselves to grab their bottles of CBD oil and flee their homes, ala Thelma and Louise. But what is the DEA really doing that’s causing some of us to panic? Nothing or a lot…depending on who you ask. Recently, the DEA enacted a new rule that classifies marijuana extracts under a new code. They use this code to do several things, including track quantities of controlled substances. The DEA stated that this reclassification was in an effort to comply with international drug control treaties as well as monitor more closely how scientists are studying extracts in comparison to flowers. While some saw this move as the DEA Big Brothering things and setting the stage for making hemp illegal, others – even marijuana proponents – view the move as one much more benign. They argued that no drug is illegal now that was legal before and they also pointed out the DEA’s limitations; they can’t just wake up one morning and decide to give hemp the hook. They’re required to go through congress.

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This protects hemp-based CBD oil; you can still find it anywhere and you can still buy it over the Internet. That hasn’t changed

The DEA itself attempted to add more insight into their decision. Their spokesperson, Russ Bare, went on record to state that their decision had nothing to do with rescheduling CBD or hemp; rather, it was meant to invoke a simpler and more accurate method of tracking scientific research. At the crux, the ruling intends to distinguish extracts from the other parts of the plant, which may make the DEA more efficient. He also noted that the new tracking system wouldn’t change any of the DEA’s enforcement procedures nor would it rearrange priorities.

Hemp, Defined

Many people use cannabis and hemp interchangeably, including myself when I need a clever pun or an alliteration. But they’re not the same thing. Hemp is a product of marijuana, Cannabis Sativa to be exact. But it contains very low (if any) percent of THC. Some people define hemp as possessing no THC (and therefore no psychoactive properties) while others described it as possessing less than .3 percent (which is so low it’s still non-psychoactive).

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For anyone planning to get high by smoking their hemp necklace, this is of course bad news: hemp won’t get you stoned

Hemp is bred not for its influence on the brain but for its versatility – it’s used in all kinds of products. It’s a major player in the paper industry and used for insulation, cahemp and the DEArpeting, paneling, fabric, automobile parts, detergents, paint, personal hygiene products, and fuels. But it’s also used as part of our diets. It’s in some salad dressings, cooking additives, flour, beer, snacks, and dairy-free milk (among other things). Many people consume hemp for health reasons, either through hemp oil, hemp supplements, or hemp powders. They may also eat hemp seeds, a snack that’s extraordinarily nutritious. In the United States, products made from industrial hemp (which contains trace amounts of THC) are legal – they can be bought, sold, imported, exported, etc.

Hemp-Based CBD Oil

Naturally, hemp-based CBD oil is popular. In fact, it is this use that left people fearful of the DEA’s movement. Presently, CBD oil can be purchased from a variety of retailers and shipped to your own home via the US mail. People use it for several things, including anxiety, aches, pains, and to ease the symptoms of serious medical conditions. CBD is different from THC, which is why it’s legal while THC-based products remain more controversial. THC is psychoactive – of you ingest it, you’ll get high. CBD is not – it’s non-psychoactive and will leave you about as high as shotgunning an O’Doul’s. CBD and THC are both cannabinoids, but they do different things to the body. Much of the medicinal benefits of marijuana have begun to focus on CBD – it’s helpful for inflammation, seizures, spasms, psychosis, and relief of discomfort or nausea. It’s currently being investigated as an answer to a wide-range of illness, including arthritis, multiple sclerosis, hemp and the DEAschizophrenia, PTSD, epilepsy, and diabetes. Hemp-based CBD oil, as previously mentioned, isn’t illegal in the United States. This is because it contains no THC, which is really the part of marijuana the government wants to quash. But THC often helps enhance CBD – it’s the coworker that makes its boss look good. That’s why many people in states where medical marijuana has been legalized opt for CBD products that have some THC.  They might opt for strains that are CBD-dominant, which means they have only a little THC, or they might opt for strains that are CBD-rich, which sometimes only means that the CBD percentage is equal to that of THC.

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The Future of Hemp and the DEA

The DEA’s reclassification left many people panicked and with good reason. For one thing, some news agencies actually reported that hemp-based CBD oil was now illegal. For another, the present administration has painted itself as a marijuana-foe rather than an ally;

Some of us wouldn’t put it past the current office to try to and illegalize CBD altogether

But, even if they tried, they can’t; congress has more power than any one person. And several legal experts have said just this – there are federal laws that the DEA simply can’t bypass no matter who’s president, no matter who’s the attorney general. If the DEA tries to up the ante and illegalize hemp-based CBD oil, hopefully they’ll be wearing their Fitbit – something that gives them credit for all that overstepping. Besides, this reclassification may benefit cannabis. If the DEA tracks CBD oil in scientific research (as they say), there’s potential for change. Maybe this tracking is what’s needed to open people's eyes to what CBD oil, and cannabis as a whole, can really do.