Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), marijuana (cannabis) and THC are both classified as Schedule 1 substances – determined to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. This makes the possession and use of THC illegal under federal law.
The medical use of cannabis (also known as medical marijuana) has been legalized by state law in 33 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico. Fourteen other states have laws that legal THC content. Although cannabis is still a Schedule 1 drug, the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment prohibits the federal prosecution of people who comply with their state medical cannabis laws.
In September 2018, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) placed a CBD drug in Schedule V (5) for the first time ever. The medication (called Epidiolex) is purified CBD and it has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of particular severe forms of childhood epilepsy. The approval of this medication by the FDA is what triggered the DEA move to place the substance in Schedule V. Epidiolex is the first ever CBD medication to gain FDA approval (in fact, it’s also the first purely cannabis-derived medication to gain FDA approval). Epidiolex is now available by prescription in all 50 states.
In its September 28, 2018 notice, the DEA specifically stated that “With the issuance of this final order, the Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration places certain drug products that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and which contain cannabidiol (CBD) in schedule V of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Specifically, this order places FDA-approved drugs that contain CBD derived from cannabis and no more than 0.1 percent tetrahydrocannabinols in schedule V.”.
Marijuana itself and THC remain Schedule 1 drugs.
It should also be noted that due to its excellent safety profile, CBD is not scheduled under any United Nations (UN) drug control treaties, and in 2018 the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that CBD remain unscheduled.