Why the DEA Hemp Rule Challenge Really Matters. A Lot.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued an interim final rule on hemp (“DEA hemp rule” or “rule”) on August 20, 2020. As per the DEA’s own executive summary, the rule “merely conforms DEA’s regulations to the statutory amendments to the [Controlled Substances Act (CSA)] that have already taken effect, and it does not add additional requirements to the regulations.” Yet, as we warned in 2020, this DEA rule creates perils for the hemp derivative industry.

The dangers presented by the DEA hemp rule stem from the 2018 Farm Bill’s failure to explicitly cover hemp processing, which we discussed in Federal Policy on Hemp CBD Is Taking Shape: What Needs to Be Addressed? As many of our readers will know, the 2018 Farm Bill defines hemp as cannabis with a THC concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis. The 2018 Farm Bill also defines hemp to include all derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids of hemp.

It is undeniable that the hemp plant and hemp derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids are no longer controlled substances. It would then logically follow that it is legal to process the hemp plant into legal derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids. What’s the issue then?

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