Judge Upholds the Schedule I Classification

On Wednesday, April 15, 2015, Judge Kimberly J Mueller of the US Court in Sacramento upheld the constitutionality of marijuana’s Schedule I designation in the 5-tier classification set down by Congress in 1970.   Schedule I drugs must have a high potential for abuse.

On April 16, 2015, Governor Butch Otter of Idaho issued an executive order allowing for expanded access to Epidiolex, a pure, pharmacy version of cannabidiol (CBD). He vetoed a bill that would have allowed non-pharmacy grade CBD for the treatment of seizures.

Parents Opposed to Pot calls on the national media to clarify the distinction between cannabidiol (CBD) oil and marijuana.  The dangers of whole marijuana have been recognized for more than 100 years.  Massachusetts banned marijuana in 1911, followed by California in 1913,  New York in 1914, and most other states by 1930.  Some people think rescheduling would allow for more research, but there are at least 396 clinical trials on the government’s registry, 273 for CBD and 123 for THC.

Science today is confirming the wisdom of the ages.  CBD, one of the 60 cannabinoids in the marijuana plant, is a derivative which must be pure for the health and safety of young children who are potential patients.  CBD oil should not include any of the 400 compounds of the plant that could compromise the effects of cannabidiol, especially tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Judge Merrick Garland
Judge Merrick Garland, Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit

Judge Mueller’s ruling should not have been a surprise.  The federal government needed only one witness to testify on its behalf, Dr. Bertha Madras of Harvard University, while the other side had numerous testimonies. It would have been an unusual reversal of the separation of powers built into the federal government, with a single judge overruling the two other branches of federal government.

In January 2013, a three-panel federal appeals court ruled against rescheduling marijuana. Judge Merrick Garland, now chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, explained to an audience at a hearing in October, 2012: “Don’t we have to defer to the agency(DEA)?  We’re not scientists.  They are.”

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had reached the decision in that marijuana should remain a Schedule I drug in 2011, after exploring the question for 9 years.  In doing so, they received input from the Food and Drug and Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services. Their decision cited heavy risk for dependency and the exorbitant numbers of hospital emergency room visits related to marijuana, which had grown in recent years to 450,000 annually.  The hospital treatments are for anxiety, panic attacks, addiction and psychosis related marijuana.  By no means was the DEA ruling or capricious or arbitrary.

States that have passed medical marijuana ballot initiatives by trying to bypass the federal approval process for drugs have higher rates of youth drug usage and secondary sales of marijuana to children.  From the chart below, the two exceptions are New Jersey, where the medical marijuana is highly controlled, and Illinois, where it hasn’t been implemented.


Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s television specials about Weed on CNN do not adequately explain that THC in marijuana functionally counteracts the effects of CBD oil. THC is known to cause seizures, and those who receive cannabidiol without removal of the THC are put in a position of risk, especially for the brain. THC is the main psychoactive component and the one responsible for the “high” of marijuana.

A pharmaceutical company alone should provide CBD for needy children. Why risk getting any THC into a child’s developing brain? At this time, CBD oil is not known to have any negative psychiatric impact.

Clinical Trials to Isolate CBD

Cannabidiol has been isolated by a company in Great Britain, GW Pharmaceuticals.  It is currently being fast tracked for approval by the FDA. Parents who have a child with seizures can be part of the trials at this very moment.  GW Pharmaceuticals has more experience than most US ganjapreneurs, as it is also the company that makes Sativex, a nasal spray derivative of marijuana.

When it comes to seizures, it’s the cannabidiol or CBD that helps. However, much of the CBD has been bred out most marijuana, which is why the general public and many of well-meaning people who are turning to “medical” marijuana for ailments are being duped.  Marijuana promoters are creating chronic users who may be addicted and therefore become the lifeblood of the industry.

In 1979, Keith Stroup founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law announced that “medical” marijuana would be used as a red herring to get full legalization of marijuana. California was the first state to bypass federal laws and allow medical marijuana in 1996. Typically, “medical” marijuana is high in THC because it stimulates the appetite of patients who are dying of AIDs or cancer. It is not a cure, but a management strategy for a condition. FDA-approved drugs must warn of interactions, side effects and have limitations on dosage.

Judge Mueller, an Obama appointee, announced her decision before issuing a written ruling, noting that the court did not have authority to reschedule the drug. The Schedule 1 classification is for drugs that can’t be administered safely under doctor’s supervision and contain a high potential for abuse. In addition to marijuana, heroin and LSD, other Schedule 1 drugs include Ecstasy and mescaline.

In no way was Congress arbitrary or irrational when it classified marijuana as dangerous back in 1970, according to Judge Mueller’s ruling.  The witness The judge upheld the charges against a dozen defendants who were growing marijuana in national parks.  In a strange twist of logic, marijuana proponents had used a criminal case to challenge the law.

Breeding the plant for higher THC, less CBD

Today’s marijuana has 3-10x the amount of THC that was in marijuana during the 60s, 70s and 80s. Marijuana plants have undergone a selective breeding during the last 20 years to get a higher content of THC, the cannabinoid responsible for brain alteration which produces the high. THC can be as high as 30%, compared to an average around 1-3% in the 1970s. Before this modification, CBD balanced the THC in marijuana, which is why not quite as many people became psychotic from marijuana as they do today. Furthermore, the underground and illegal status prevented people from using as much pot, or as often.

THC interacts with the same systems as anandamide, an endogenous (naturally occurring) neurotransmitter. It binds to the same cannabinoid receptor that binds to anandamide, a joy enhancing neurotransmitter. Repeated use of cannabis hijacks the role of anandamide as THC replaces the brain’s own natural chemical. THC doesn’t resemble anandamide at all, and its chemical structure is totally different. That difference is one reason why its effect may be so damaging to young brains. It is also a reason why heavy cannabis users who quit experience depression and anxiety and severe psychological withdrawal symptoms.

According to literature, CBD can convert to THC, so pharmacists must find a way to keep it stable. The two agents that can convert CBD to THC are heat, which is why smoking is a problem, and acid. Exposing CBD to stomach acid could be a problem, so a nasal spray is probably the best choice. Only a pharmacy should sell it to guarantee quality and purity.