DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), the leading non-profit trade association consisting of hundreds of hemp businesses, has issued its position in response to a recent DEA ruling, submitted to the Federal Register December 14, 2016, which seeks to establish a new drug code for ‘marijuana extract.’ Specifically, the DEA has proposed that CBD, and all cannabinoids derived from Cannabis Sativa L. qualify as ‘marijuana extracts,’ and require separate, distinct identification and tracking by DEA agents than other forms of ‘marijuana.’ However, the DEA maintains the contradictory assertion that all CBD products are illegal as they constitute ‘marijuana’ per the Controlled Substances Act, and will therefore “continue to be treated as Schedule I substances.” Complete Ruling.
It is the position of the Hemp Industries Association that this Final Rule regarding ‘marijuana extracts’ is not within the jurisdiction of the DEA to enact, as the administration itself cannot amend or augment the definitions put forth in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Adding CBD products to the federal schedule of controlled substances would require new legislation to pass in Congress or action taken by the Attorney General, amending the CSA. Additionally, the ruling is based on an incorrect and incomplete understanding of how CBD is derived from the cannabis plant. While CBD may be derived from forms of cannabis that contain high amounts of THC, the cannabinoid associated with ‘marijuana,’ CBD may also be produced from industrial hemp plants that meet the legal standards of less than 0.3% THC by dry weight, and which may be cultivated in 32 states in the U.S. per Sec. 7606 of the Farm Bill, the Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research amendment. Hence, not all CBD products may be classified as extracts from ‘marijuana.’
“It’s important to understand that this Final Rule does not change the legal status of hemp derived CBD,” said Eric Steenstra, Executive Director of the Hemp Industries Association. “Cannabidiol is not listed on the federal schedule of controlled substances, and the DEA has no authority whatsoever to impede the production, processing or sale of hemp products, including CBD products, grown under the Farm Bill. We urge consumers and businesses not to panic, and continue supporting the growth of the hemp industry in the U.S.”
Generally, the HIA maintains that CBD products should be legally defined as supplements, not drugs or pharmaceuticals subject to DEA control. The CBD industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the emerging hemp market in the U.S., and indeed worldwide. This DEA Final Rule is concerning to the industry, as it creates confusion in the marketplace among consumers and legitimate businesses alike, and may potentially result in federal agencies improperly treating legal products such as CBD oils, body balms and supplements as controlled substances. The Hemp Industries Association is monitoring this development closely, and is strongly considering legal action to protect the interests of its members and the hemp industry as a whole.