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Substance Use Disorders Institute: Cannabidiol Should Not be Subject to Control as a Scheduled Substance

Written by Gail Groves Scott
Published on September 26, 2017

The newly formed Substance Use Disorders Institute (SUDI) at USciences submitted a recommendation to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in September regarding cannabidiol, a phytocannabinoid that is derived from the cannabis (or marijuana) plant, saying that it should not be subject to international controls as a scheduled substance.

The SUDI recommendation was submitted to the FDA, during a public comment period regarding the abuse potential of a group of controlled substances. The FDA asked for expert comment on whether restrictions on the sale, trade, and medical use of the substances should be changed internationally.  Cannabidiol (CBD) has therapeutic potential for several medical conditions, including in the treatment of Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. 
The scheduling of cannabis and cannabinoids is complicated, and remains an active process. The plant cannabis and its natural products are included in the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Substances as amended in 1971, in a group of substances that are considered dangerous and without therapeutic use (Schedule I, internationally).

Under the third Convention of 1988, possession or purchase of a psychotropic or narcotic drug not approved for medical/scientific purpose— i.e. a Schedule 1 drug— was made not only punishable, but a criminal offense. The US has signed all 3 conventions, along with the vast majority of the worlds' nation-states. These international treaties now pose a conflict for the U.S. federal government, due to the  current situation, in which almost half of U.S. states have legalized medical, and in some cases, recreational, cannabis, including extracts comprised of phytocannabinoids like CBD and THC.

Read the full recommendation:

The Substance Use Disorders Institute (SUDI) of the University of the Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., translates scientific evidence about substance use disorders to inform policy, educate healthcare providers, and address gaps in knowledge through research. SUDI offers the following position statement for inclusion with the U.S. response to the World Health Organization's request for submissions to the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, and the International Narcotics Control Board:

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Unlike delta-9-THC, another component of cannabis, CBD lacks psychoactive effects, and CBD has no documented abuse potential. Extensive clinical and preclinical research has produced strong evidence of the therapeutic potential of CBD, for example, in the treatment of Dravet syndrome, a rare form of intractable epilepsy. CBD has also been shown to have other therapeutic uses, including palliative care in cancer, anxiety, neuropathic pain, and neurodegenerative diseases. SUDI recommends that CBD not be subject to control as a scheduled substance. Restrictive international controls are likely to adversely impact scientific investigation into the therapeutic potential of this compound. Further, the absence of any psychoactive effects and lack of abuse potential reinforce our position that these measures are not warranted. 


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Categories:  Substance Use Disorders InstituteMayes College of Healthcare and Business PolicyDepartment of Health Policy and Public HealthUSciences