(Jon Richfield via Wikimedia Commons)
According to attorneys, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s new rule clarifying the illegality of marijuana extracts will not have a significant impact on Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana industry—but it may prompt lawyers to advise their clients not to ship cannabis products interstate.
The DEA announced in December that, effective Jan. 13, marijuana extracts will be classified as Schedule I drugs—substances or chemicals with no medical use and a high potential for abuse.
The agency created a separate code for marijuana extract, defining it as “an extract containing one or more cannabinoids that has been derived from any plant of the genus cannabis, other than the separated resin (whether crude or purified) obtained from the plant.”
The classification has proven controversial because of its inclusion of cannabidiol (CBD), which has been cited by medical marijuana advocates as having a wide range of potential medical uses. But Pennsylvania lawyers said they don’t think the new rule will significantly impact their practices or their clients’ business in the state because the federal government has already indicated it won’t interfere with businesses operating in compliance with state laws.
Robin Locke Nagele, who co-chairs Post & Schell’s health care practice group and has a regulated cannabis practice, said the new scheduling expanded the DEA’s ability to regulate medical marijuana. But because growing and selling marijuana was already illegal under federal law, Nagele said, the new rule should not have much of an effect on medical marijuana businesses in Pennsylvania, so long as they’re adhering to state law. Still, she added that lawyers and their clients will “proceed with caution.”
Andrew Sacks, managing partner of Sacks Weston Diamond in Philadelphia and head of its cannabis and hemp department, said the advice he would give to clients is not to ship their medical marijuana extract products interstate, and noted that the new scheduling could have more of an effect in states with legalized recreational marijuana.
Steven Schain, counsel at cannabis law firm Hoban Law Group, said the new DEA rule “removed an ambiguity” about the legality of marijuana extracts. Like Sacks, Schain said the new rule would likely have the potential to impact interstate sales, but not intrastate business.
Schain noted that the “Cole memo”—written in 2013 by then-U.S. Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole—advised federal prosecutors to “continue to review marijuana cases on a case-by-case basis and weigh all available information and evidence, including, but not limited to, whether the operation is demonstrably in compliance with a strong and effective state regulatory system.”
Victoria Hudgins can be contacted at 215-557-2483 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @VHudginsTLI.