Hoban Law Group Files Ninth Circuit Petition To Challenge Recent DEA Classification of “Marihuana Extracts”

COLORADO: In an overreach of authority and without consulting Congress, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued its Final Rule, the “Establishment of New Drug Code for Marihuana Extract,” on Dec 14, 2016. In response to the change, which serves to potentially devastate developing businesses and consumer, textile and manufacturing industries related to industrial hemp and other lawfully derived cannabinoids, Hoban Law Group has filed a petition in San Francisco’s United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to challenge what appears to be the DEA’s attempt to control an otherwise lawful substance.

The petition, filed on January 13, 2017 in California’s United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, is on behalf of three Petitioners: the Hemp Industries Association (an industrial hemp trade organization representing an array of industrial hemp industry actors); RMH Holdings, LLC (which sources its products from industrial hemp lawfully cultivated pursuant to the Agricultural Act of 2014 (also known as the Farm Bill)); and Centuria Natural Foods, Inc. (which lawfully imports certain exempted parts of the Cannabis plant, and oils and derivatives there from, such as stalks and fibers). The recent Final Rule substantially impacts businesses long operating in compliance with existing laws that now could be facing significant change in existing policy. These adverse impacts are caused by the Final Rule’s attempt to create a drug code encompassing all cannabinoids as Schedule 1 substances without reflecting the parts of the Cannabis plant which are Congressionally exempted from the definition of “marihuana” under the Controlled Substances Act and/or are exempted from treatment as a controlled substance.

“This is an action beyond the DEA’s authority. This Final Rule serves to threaten hundreds, if not thousands, of growing businesses, with massive economic and industry expansion opportunities, all of which conduct lawful business compliant with existing policy as it is understood and in reliance upon the Federal Government.” -Hoban Law Group Managing Partner Bob Hoban.

Unfortunately, the DEA’s Final Rule exceeds the authority granted it by Congress and is inconsistent with the language of the Controlled Substance Act and other laws applying to industrial hemp. The genus Cannabis sativa L. contains over 80 cannabinoids, such as those commonly known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The DEA’s Final Rule takes the position that the mere presence of any cannabinoid extracted from the Cannabis plant automatically renders that substance a “marihuana extract,” despite no cannabinoid except for (synthetic) THC being expressly scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act. This reclassification contradicts the DEA’s acknowledgement in the past that certain cannabinoids exhibit different effects: THC is known for psychoactive properties, whereas CBD, CBG and other cannabinoids are not commonly associated with psychoactive properties. In addition, the DEA’s Final Rule fails to recognize that cannabinoids can be derived from sources other than the Cannabis plant, such as a certain South African daisy, some chocolates, human breast milk and black pepper, highlighting the point that where or from what plant the cannabinoids originated is very difficult to prove.

Though the DEA has referred to their recent Final Rule as a “mere recordkeeping measure,” Hoban Law Group is acting swiftly on behalf of the Petitioners to ensure that continued lawful pathways remain available for industrial hemp companies seeking to remain compliant with federal law. The Final Rule raises concern that this type of overreach could become more commonplace, continuing to widely affect many industrial hemp companies and a wide variety of products currently marketed for sale. Whether the DEA’s motives are negligent or intentional, a primary concern is that this “mere recordkeeping” is a misuse of the drug code that could lead to abuse and misunderstanding of the law by other local, state and federal agencies and an unwarranted chilling effect upon the industrial hemp industry.

Notably, the DEA has sought to unilaterally reclassify cannabinoids before, and lost. See Hemp Indus. Ass’n. v. DEA357 F.3d 1012, 1014 (9th Cir. 2004); Hemp Indus. Ass’n v. DEA333 F.3d 1082, 1089 (9th Cir. 2003).

New Bill Would Cut Off Federal Forfeiture Funds For DEA Marijuana Seizures

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: A new bipartisan bill would eliminate a controversial source of funding for one federal marijuana seizure program. Last week, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) introduced the “Stop Civil Asset Forfeiture Funding for Marijuana Suppression Act.” The bill is quite simple: It would prevent the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from using federal forfeiture funds to pay for its Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program. Additionally, the bill would ban transferring property to federal, state or local agencies if that property “is used for any purpose pertaining to” the DEA’s marijuana eradication program.

Under this program, the DEA receives federal forfeiture funds ($18 million in 2013), which it then funnels to over 120 local and state agencies to eliminate marijuana grow sites nationwide. Last year, the program was responsible for over 6,300 arrests, eradicating over 4.3 million marijuana plants and seizing $27.3 million in assets. More than half of all plants destroyed were in California, which also accounted for over one-third of seized assets and nearly 40 percent of the arrests.

New DEA Chief: ‘Heroin Is Clearly More Dangerous Than Marijuana’

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The new Drug Enforcement Administration chief has finally made it clear: Marijuana is safer than heroin.

DEA head Chuck Rosenberg told reporters Wednesday morning at the administration’s headquarters that “heroin is clearly more dangerous than marijuana,” clarifying a less definitive statement he made last week, when he said marijuana is “probably not” as dangerous as heroin. Rosenberg said cannabis is still “harmful and dangerous,” but that his original remarks should have been clearer.

Cameras were not allowed at the press briefing, but DEA spokesman Joseph Moses confirmed Rosenberg’s remarks to The Huffington Post.

The statement lines up with the science that has long been clear on the plant being one of the least dangerous recreationally used drugs. And while Rosenberg’s comments may initially seem benign, they represent a significant shift in the point of view of an agency that continues to classify marijuana as one of the “most dangerous” drugs, alongside heroin and LSD.

 

Rare Hearing For Marijuana Growers In Federal Court

CALIFORNIA:  Usually federal courts strictly enforce the nationwide laws against the Marijuana, and have rebuffed challenges to the government’s classification of the drug as one of the most dangerous narcotics.

But that could change this week when a federal judge in Sacramento, in a criminal case against 7 men charged with growing Marijuana on national forest land in Trinity and Tehama counties, hears what she has described as “new scientific and medical information” that raises questions about the validity of the federal ban.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies Marijuana, along with such drugs as heroin, LSD and ecstasy, in Schedule One;  substances that have a high potential for abuse, have no currently accepted medical use, and can be dangerous even under a doctor’s supervision.

The classification amounts to a nationwide prohibition on the possession, use or cultivation of the plant.

It must be proven  not merely that the federal law is misguided, based on current research, but that it is entirely irrational. An initial ruling would apply only to the current defendants, but the impact would be broader if higher courts weighed in.

 

 

DEA Raids 2 Los Angeles Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

CALIFORNIA:  Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration raided two legal medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles on Thursday that, according to multiple staff members, were fully compliant with state laws.

The Department of Justice confirmed to The Huffington Post after the raid that it was executing a search warrant on The Farmacy dispensary in Los Angeles, but said the warrant was under seal and it could not comment further.

Beginning around 10:30 a.m. Thursday morning, several DEA agents raided two dispensary locations of LA-based The Farmacy dispensary, one in West Hollywood and the other in Westwood, taking money, cannabis and computers in the process. Staff members at the West Hollywood location said there were no arrests made at either shop. It remains unclear how much money and cannabis was seized during the operation.

“We are completely in the dark as to why this happened,” said Calvin, the manager of the West Hollywood shop, who requested only his first name be used from fear of further police action. “We have been around for close to 10 years, the third shop to open in Los Angeles, and are completely 100 percent state-compliant and we pay our taxes.”

 

 

The Government Wants To Buy 12 Acres Of Marijuana — For Research

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Calling all pot farmers: Uncle Sam is looking to buy.

An arm of the National Institutes of Health dedicated to researching drug abuse and addiction “intends” to solicit proposals from those who can “harvest, process, analyze, store and distribute” cannabis, according to a listing posted Tuesday night on a federal government website.

A successful bidder must possess a “secure and video monitored outdoor facility” capable of growing and processing 12 acres of marijuana, a 1,000-sq.-ft. (minimum) greenhouse to test the plants under controlled conditions, and “demonstrate the availability” of a vault approved by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration to maintain between 400 and 700 kg of pot stock, extract and cigarettes.

Back-up plans in case of emergency required.