The Food and Drug Administration took a turn this week when it declared one component of medical marijuana to be “beneficial” to certain patients. Since the federal government still regards the whole cannabis plant as a Schedule I controlled substance with no medical use, this concession could be both paradoxical for federal law and potentially set the stage for a sea change in policy.
The announcement from the FDA comes as the agency, in conjunction with UN officials, conduct a fact-finding mission to gather more data on the medicinal effects of cannabidiol (CBD). Both organizations have put out a call for people with experience with using CBD to offer their thoughts on a federal website. Public comment will be accepted until September 13.
The goal of this push for feedback is to help categorize CBD for the World Health Organization (WHO), as reported by Leafly.. The results of this categorization will not have a direct impact on U.S. law, but could end up leaving the nation’s federal government as a weird piece of anti-cannabis meat in between the 420-friendly slices of bread that are international and state law.
In the FDA’s announcement, Deputy Commissioner Anna K. Abram stated that “CBD has been shown to be beneficial in experimental models of several neurological disorders, including those of seizure and epilepsy.” The DEA, meanwhile, only last year made an effort to explicitly make CBD a Schedule I drug (for now, it’s only implicitly so since it’s derived from cannabis, but apparently that’s not good enough for some hard-edged drug officials).
The UN’s WHO is currently in the process of categorizing 17 different drugs. Among them are CBD, fentanyl, synthetic cannabis, and ketamine. Ketamine has been reviewed by the agency for categorization as recently as 2014, but the drug is up for a re-appraisal after psychiatrists (and Time magazine) have suggested it might be useful in treating depression.