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DEA’s Latest Rule Update Has Hemp Industry Concerned
Earlier this month, the US. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued their interim final rule regarding hemp processing and distribution in America. Seeking to clarify certain aspects of the 2018 Farm Bill, the DEA announced further hemp restrictions causing many in the industry to worry about the vitality of hemp in America.
Specifically, the DEA reinforced restrictions on certain cannabinoids and attempted to close loopholes that allowed retailers to sell psychoactive hemp components in a legal grey area. They reiterated the Schedule I status of all tetrahydrocannabinols (not just Delta-9) and maintained that hemp’s legal status ceases the moment a product’s THC level climbs above 0.3 percent.
Though these rules may seem obvious on the surface, they actually create more complications and further hinder an already fragile industry. Moreover, the DEA does not have the authority to create new hemp law. Their attempt to do so is a clear overstep of their authority and a giant push-back against the budding hemp industry.
A Closer Look at the DEA’s Latest Rule regarding D8
The Marijuana Marketing Act of 1946 defines hemp as cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC on a dry-weight basis. The 2018 Farm Bill expanded on this definition by removing hemp-based products from the Controlled Substance list thereby allowing its production and sale across America. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, “Hemp is…any cannabis plant, or derivative thereof, that contains not more than 0.3 percent Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) on a dry-weight basis.”
With this in mind, many hemp industry players have devised an innovative way to skirt tetrahydrocannabinol restrictions. They do so by synthetically developing Delta-8 THC from CBD-derived hemp. Consequently, they can legally sell a psychoactive form of hemp in most US states. That is, until the latest DEA ruling. Though a lawsuit is already underway against the DEA’s latest rule, D8 distribution should halt until the final ruling to avoid legal complications.
Hemp Processing Naturally Elevates THC levels
Also of concern is the stipulation that all products containing more than 0.3 percent THC are illegal. Once again, on the surface, this rule seems clear. However, it does not account for the fact that many hemp products fall under this illegal blanket during processing.
Though the Farm Bill clearly states that THC levels must be compliant at harvest and at the time of sale, it also implies that hemp extracts are only legal if they continuously maintain compliant THC levels. However, extraction naturally raises THC levels during processing. Note, processors often dilute hemp concentrates by mixing it with oils or extract non-compliant THC before the sale. However, the intermediary process almost always involves elevated THC levels.
Exxentially, the DEA has labeled all products with elevated THC as illegal. In doing, they are pulling the rug out from under all hemp extractors. Moreover, there has been a recent trend of states outlawing smokable hemp. Consequently, the DEA’s new rule leaves minimal room for upward mobility in the hemp industry.
Final Thoughts on the DEA’s Latest Rule
The US Drug Enforcement Agency is responsible for enforcing drug laws. They do not, however, have the authority to create new ones. As such, their attempt at clarifying the 2018 Farm Bill rules is likely a major overstep of their authority. Fortunately, these rules are not set in stone; the comment period to address the DEA’s latest rules is open until October 2020. We encourage you to take a few minutes to express concerns over these new rules. In the meantime, we will do our best to ensure that you have all the information necessary to prosper in this new, highly regulated industry.
What are your thoughts on the DEA’s latest rule for hemp farmers?