In August, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) published a new rule aimed at aligning its regulations with the 2018 Farm Bill passed by Congress that legalized hemp.

Hemp Extracts at Risk of Being Classified as Illegal

The new rule has greatly alarmed the hemp industry as it fears that opponents of hemp will argue that hemp extracts are a Schedule 1 controlled substance during the extraction process when the plant’s THC levels are above the allowable 0.3%.

Language in the new rule says that hemp legalization “does not automatically exempt any product derived from a hemp plant,” since extracts become illegal if they exceed the 0.3% THC limit. However, industry advocates highlight the fact that during the extraction process, the cannabinoid content can be several times higher than their original level. The oil is then diluted to the 0.3% legal limit.

Hemp Extract

Pushing Back

The DEA has been made aware of the concerns and has stated that it is, “evaluating multiple options,” according to a spokesperson.

However, industry leaders are not resting on their laurels. The Hemp Industries Association and RE Botanicals, a South Carolina CBD Manufacturer filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court to prevent the DEA from criminalizing hemp extracts. The lawsuit states, “This case is the latest chapter in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (“DEA”) long-running attempt to regulate the production of legal hemp in excess of its statutory and delegated authority.”

Public comments for the new rule were open through October 20, 2020. To date, over 3.34 thousand comments have been made, including the following:

It is really disheartening that the DEA has time to destroy American businesses during a time of severe crisis. There are millions of people that are currently unemployed and many more will be if this passes, lots of processing equipment costs anywhere from the tens of thousands to millions of dollars. People have poured their entire life savings into one last desperate attempt to make a legal living in this industry and any attempt at destroying the industry is catastrophic to law abiding Americans. Don’t do this!!”

With the risk of making hemp extracts illegal, hemp manufacturers, sellers, and customers alike are coming together to change the language of this rule. Hopefully the DEA will listen.