American hemp stakeholders are backed by a group of 28 U.S. lawmakers as a national trade group goes into federal court Thursday to challenge a rule enacted last year by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that continues to cast a cloud over the U.S. hemp industry.
Hemp proponents say the DEA edict implies no distinction between non-psychoactive hemp compounds and other compounds derived from the cannabis plant. Under the DEA rule, any amount of THC present in any cannabis plant places hemp under the Controlled Substances Act.
Plaintiff in the court challenge is the Hemp Industries Association (HIA), which argues that growing industrial hemp is legal under the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill that defines hemp as “all parts of the plant cannabis sativa l., so long as the dried materials of the plant is less than 0.3 percent THC.”
DEA rule ‘inconsistent’
The 28 lawmakers early this year filed a court brief in support of the HIA suit that challenges the DEA rule on cannabis extracts, which was announced in January 2017. In their brief, the legislators argued that in the 2014 Farm Bill, “Congress recognized and acknowledged the need for research and development to investigate hemp-derived products, including CBD, and gave states broad discretion to create pilot programs to accomplish this research.” They called the DEA’s rule “inconsistent with the Farm Bill’s most fundamental purpose: to allow states . . . to experiment with commercial research and development of industrial hemp, including extracts and derivatives.”
Denver attorney Bob Hoban, Hoban Law Group, is representing the HIA in the case, Hemp Industries Association v. Drug Enforcement Administration before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.