In August, the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) unveiled proposed rules that would officially put the agency in line with the 2018 farm bill. The legislation legalized the cultivation and sale of industrial hemp and its extracts, allowing farmers across the country to grow hemp under state and tribal programs. However, the federal agency’s interim final rule on hemp has been met with resistance from activists who argue it contradicts the 2018 farm bill and will hamper the growth of the nascent hemp industry.
Last week, a pair of Oregon senators sent a letter to the DEA demanding changes to its proposed hemp regulations. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley say that despite the DEA’s claim that its interim final rule (IFR) is only about compliance, the proposal “does significantly more.”
“The IFR treats hemp as a Schedule I controlled substance at any point its THC content exceeds 0.3% THC,” they write. Delta-9 THC is the main component responsible for cannabis’s psychoactive effects, and the 2018 farm bill requires that legal hemp has less than 0.3% delta-9 THC. “However, when Congress passed the 2018 farm bill, we understood that the intermediate stages of hemp processing can cause hemp extracts to temporarily exceed 0.3% THC, which is why we defined hemp based on its delta-9 THC level.
“In effect, the IFR criminalizes the intermediate steps of hemp processing, which is wholly inconsistent with Congress’s clearly stated purpose and text of the 2018 Farm Bill,” the letter continued.
According to the DEA’s proposed rules, businesses that produce hemp products may find themselves breaking the law, and they could be subject to enforcement actions if THC levels increase beyond 0.3%, even temporarily. Additionally, the DEA’s regulation states that all “synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain schedule I controlled substances,” locking out delta-8 THC. Delta-8 THC is converted from CBD through the use of a catalyst, a process that could be interpreted as a synthetic production process, making delta-8 THC illegal.
This is the second time the DEA has received a congressional request concerning its interim final rule on hemp. On October 20, nine members of Congress also sent a letter to the agency urging it to revise its proposed hemp regulations. Led by Reps David Joyce and Denver Riggleman, the members of Congress argued that the DEA’s provision which stated that “any such material that contains greater than 0.3% of delta-9 THC on a dry weight basis remains controlled in Schedule I.
“Our offices have received countless calls from constituents involved in the hemp industry who are extremely fearful that simply following the provisions of the Farm Bill will result in criminal liability under the IFR,” the letter continues. “The IFR will likely have the effect of inhibiting these nascent state hemp programs, thereby harming those American companies and workers who chose to pursue careers in the hemp industry and made significant investments to effectuate those aspirations.”
Pac Roots Cannabis Corp. (CSE: PACR) is an interesting company you should watch in the marijuana industry. The company focuses on using high-end and selectively bred genetics to produce premium marijuana products.
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