Legal and Regulatory Issues Governing Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products in the United States

Front Plant Sci. 2019 Jun 14:10:697. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.00697. eCollection 2019.


This chapter provides an in-depth discussion of the legal and regulatory frameworks surrounding cannabis in the United States, including federal law-as dictated by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and governed by various federal agencies like the FDA and DEA-as well as state law-as regulated by each state's laws and regulations authorizing medical and/or adult use cannabis. First, the chapter discusses the definition and classification of cannabis under the CSA, including scheduling under the CSA as well as the process for and potentiality of removing cannabis from Schedule I. Then, it describes the activities relating to industrial hemp that are permitted under the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bill. Next, the chapter addresses state-level cannabis laws. The chapter also analyzes the question of whether state cannabis laws are invalidated and superseded by federal law. Moreover, this section examines the factors underlying the extent of the Department of Justice's enforcement actions relating to state-authorized cannabis activities. The chapter then turns to CBD (cannabidiol) in particular, discussing CBD's legal status under the CSA; the FDA's role in regulating and approving CBD products for medical purposes; and the steps required to take an investigational CBD product through that approval process. The chapter concludes by contending that, while cannabis has had a long and twisting history, and although cannabis-derived products face daunting obstacles to achieving FDA approval as well as rescheduling under both federal and state law, the recent success of one product (Epidiolex®) should inspire other manufacturers to develop additional cannabis-derived products through the FDA process.

Keywords: HEMP; PREEMPT; cannabidiol; cannabis; controlled substances; farm bill; rescheduling; schedule I.

Publication types

  • Review