DEA chief: Agency won’t ‘harass’ hemp industry

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DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) chief Chuck Rosenberg said his agency is “not looking to harass” hemp farmers and processors as long as they abide by section 7606 of the farm bill.

Rosenberg’s comments came during a U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee hearing last week in response to questioning by Chairman Robert Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, who during the questioning flagged a recent lawsuit against the DEA filed by the U.S. Hemp Industries Association regarding hemp in food.

HIA filed a motion Feb. 6, 2017 to hold the DEA in contempt of court for violating a 2004 order that prohibits the agency from regulating hemp food products as Schedule I controlled substance. The 2004 order was issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals 9th District in San Francisco, where the HIA’s most recent petition also was filed.

“We’re looking to try to make it clear that there should be an easier path for people with a product that is commercially viable for a lot of purposes,” Goodlatte said during the hearing, “They should be able to be produced in a more convenient way and be more accessible to the market.”

“We’ve worked with your staff, sir, to try and work through some of those issues and we’ll continue to do so,” Rosenberg responded during the brief exchange, which was part of a 2-hour, 30-minute hearing on a broad range of DEA issues.

Many in the cannabis industry had feared how the DEA would treat hemp under Rosenberg, named by the U.S. administration to head the drug agency earlier this year, and who last year blocked attempts to remove cannabis from its Schedule I classification as a dangerous drug.

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