The Illegality of Online CBD Sales

Tara Tedrow

Cannabidiol (CBD), one of many cannabinoids present in marijuana, is still identified as a Schedule 1 drug in the Controlled Substances Act (wondering what Schedule I drugs include? See a previous Marijuana Maven post for more information!). Last December, the DEA issued an agency rule that established a new “drug code” for marijuana extracts such as CBD, which allows the DEA to track and code marijuana extracts separately from the marijuana plant and tetrahydrocannabinols (THC). The new agency action confirmed that “[e]xtracts of [marijuana] will continue to be treated as Schedule I controlled substances.” The DEA clarified that all extracts that contain CBD also contain small amounts of other cannabinoids, so even if it were possible to produce from marijuana an extract that contained only CBD and no other cannabinoids, such an extract would still fall within the new drug code. The DEA’s rule effectively closed the door on separating marijuana derived CBD from the black list of Schedule 1 drugs.

The debate about the medicinal effects of CBD is a no-brainer, but still, under the DEA’s rules, it is illegal for companies to sell CBD across state lines. Wondering whether that CBD product you bought online was illegal? An article by the Brookings Institution highlights that even though some companies are shipping CBD products across state lines, the products are not legal and such practices violate both federal law and the Justice Department guidance that has allowed state-legal systems to operate. The government certainly hasn’t sat by idly, fingers crossed that companies would read lengthy legal memoranda and regulations and stop shipping CBD products all over the U.S. Instead, the FDA has issued several cease and desist letters to the producers of CBD who were shipping across state lines. The four targeted companies – Greenroads Health, Natural Alchemist, That’s Natural! Marketing and Consulting, and Stanley Brothers Social Enterprises LLC – were called out for allegedly having unsubstantiated claims related to dozens of products advertised on websites, online stores and social media. If you want to purchase or understand more about CBD products, be sure to familiarize yourself with relevant laws instead of taking at face value the claims made on CBD websites.

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