The Pharmacy Board of the state with the highest opioid addiction rate recommends “cannabidiol” (CBD) to protect interests in future drug.
West Virginia has gained a reputation for having the worst opioid problem in the U.S. The state attorney general has been forced to sue pharmaceutical companies for “flooding” the state with pills that have contributed to the widespread addiction crisis. Companies are alleged to have “incentivized” opioid sales through illegal means and show no intentions of stopping.
“Even after we charged them civilly and took civil fines after them, even after they had memorandums of understanding that they knew what to do now, three years later, they started violating the law again,” said Joe Rannazzisi, previously with the DEA for 29 years in an interview with CBS News. 
Their has been considerable debate over the scheduling of CBD after the industry has taken off in America, expected to grow to $2.1 billion by 2020 according to Forbes. The crux of the debate is in the interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (“CSA) and the Agricultural Act of 2014 (“Farm Bill”). Further rules have been proposed by the DEA to include CBD on the schedule under the controversial Marihuana Extract Rule that is currently being challenged by the Hemp Industries Association. The main question for hemp farmers is whether the CBD derived from Hemp permitted under Section 7606 of the Farm Bill is subject to control under the CSA.
According to the Ninth Circuit, that answer is clearly no.
“naturally occurring cannabinoids are not unlawful substances per se. In Hemp Indus. Ass’n. v. DEA, 357 F.3d 1012 (9th Cir. 2004), the Ninth Circuit ruled that naturally occurring cannabinoids in industrial hemp foods, including oil, were never scheduled under the CSA; therefore, the DEA has no jurisdiction. This means that naturally occurring industrial hemp cannabinoids are federally legal in the view of the Ninth Circuit.” Hoban Law Group.
Further, “under the CSA, the DEA can regulate foodstuffs and related products containing natural THC if it is contained within “marijuana,” and can regulate synthetic THC of any kind. But they cannot regulate naturally-occurring THC not contained within or derived from marijuana–i.e., non-psychoactive industrial hemp products–because non-psychoactive industrial hemp is not included in Schedule I, as set forth above. This is because statutes must be interpreted strictly and pursuant to their specific terms, and because the DEA has no authority to regulate drugs that are not scheduled.” Hoban Law Group.
GW Pharmaceuticals has submitted Epidiolex and Sativex to the FDA for approval. The rules state that CBD is not legal for sale as a dietary supplement, provided that CBD has never been “marketed” as a dietary supplement before investigational trials had begun. The FDA claims that there is no evidence that CBD was ever marketed as a supplement, and is therefore not exempt from the rule. However, this finding has been challenged by the Hemp Industries Association and others who saw this coming.
“The industry and I were part of this, we responded in spades in the sense that we provided literally reams of documents and information that shows that CBD was marketed as a dietary supplement long prior to the believed date of application of GW Pharma,” said Hoban, managing partner of the law firm Hoban & Feola, LLC, during an interview for a “Healthy INSIDER Podcast.”
The WV Board of Pharmacy has prompted the WV Legislature to reschedule CBD. Delegate Joe Ellington, Chair for the House Health and Human Resources Committee, is the lead sponsor for amending H.B. 2526. This bill would attempt to amend the state Controlled Substance Act and make CBD sale and use illegal without a prescription. However, CBD has not been defined as a drug by the FDA at this time and is a blatant attempt by the pharmaceutical lobby to monopolize the market before their drugs even get approved. This bill is putting the cart way before the horse by recommending that CBD be placed on the schedule before it is approved by the FDA.
“HB2526 (f) Notwithstanding any provision of the code to the contrary, the sale, wholesale, distribution or prescribing of a cannabidiol in a product approved by the Food and Drug Administration is permitted and shall be placed on the schedule as provided for by the Drug Enforcement Administration.”
The pharmaceutical companies are now fighting for the very drug they lobbied against in the past. The hypocrisy of this situation is astounding. Further, CBD has potential to diminish addictive behaviors according to recent studies, and could be of real benefit to successful treatment and recovery. Big Pharma may now be trying to profit from the very situation they helped to create.
The WVHIA is calling on all West Virginian’s who have been adversely impacted by the opioid crisis to ask their representatives to oppose H.B. 2526 We cannot reward Big Pharma by allowing them to pass this bill. WVHIA Director J. Morgan Leach made the following comment:
“Natural alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs are under attack by Big Pharma. H.B. 2526 attempts to monopolize the CBD market and prevent nutraceutical companies from producing natural versions of their synthetic equivalent. It’s analogous to requiring a prescription for aspirin and then making competing supplements such as turmeric or Vitamin C illegal.”
 West Virginia sues Prescription Drug Wholesalers for “Flooding” State – Insurance Journal. http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2016/01/11/394577.htm
 West Virginia Is Suing McKesson Corporation For Incentivizing Opioid Sales – CBS News. http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/05/25/west-virginia-is-suing-mckesson-corporation-for-incentivizing-opioid-sales/
 The Endocannabinoid System as an Emerging Target of Pharmacotherapy – Pharmacol Rev. 2006 Sep; 58(3): 389–462. doi: 10.1124/pr.58.3.2 available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2241751/
 Cannabidiol: Pharmacology and potential therapeutic role in epilepsy and other neuropsychiatric disorders – Addictive Behavior (p. 12) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4707667/pdf/nihms578159.pdf