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Tuesday is deadline to save CBD from DEA clutches

Comment period ends Oct. 20 to rein in DEA regulatory overreach—seriously, the drug warriors were explicitly written out of regulating hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill. Why are we here?

Todd Runestad

October 16, 2020

2 Min Read
Tuesday is deadline to save CBD from DEA clutches

The 2018 Farm Bill explicitly wrote the nation’s top drug warriors, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), out of regulating hemp. But the DEA has insinuated itself back into the picture with an interim final rule that is having a chilling effect on farmers and extractors the nation over.

The situation could not be more dire. The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), which successfully sued the DEA in 2004 to get the agency to stop declaring hemp seeds and hemp seed oil as a controlled substance alongside heroin and cocaine, filed suit last week to again push back against the reefer madness kingpins.

“The DEA’s new rule could put us out of business overnight,” said Janel Ralph, founder of leading CBD line Palmetto Harmony, which merged with RE Botanicals, which co-signed the lawsuit along with the HIA.

The comment period to oppose the DEA’s overreach is Tuesday, Oct. 20. More than 3,000 comments have already been filed. To file your own comment, go here.

Besides the opposition to the DEA having any authority at all to regulate hemp, the industry is most concerned that the agency believes that felonies are committed any step along the extraction process that hemp may have parts that rise above 0.3% THC.

“When Congress passed the 2018 farm bill, it explicitly carved hemp and its derivatives out of the Controlled Substances Act so that hemp can be regulated as an agricultural commodity,” said HIA President Rick Trojan. “The DEA’s interim final rule could create substantial barriers to the legal manufacturing of hemp-derived products, a critical component of the hemp supply chain, and devastate the entire hemp industry. Although the DEA states that is not its intention, the rule must be amended to ensure hemp remains an agricultural crop, as Congress intended.”

Related:Hemp CBD industry facing uncertainties during election year

Hemp extractors and processors are the part of the supply chain most concerned with the DEA proposed rule. Part of the complaint is hemp waste material and end process material is defined as hemp. These are non-publicly available material before it is made available to retail or wholesale.

“This is not the finished product. It’s an injustice,” said Robert Davidson, CEO of CURE Pharmaceuticals. “It doesn’t reflect how the supply chain works. It makes absolutely no sense to me. Because they don’t treat drugs or nutraceuticals like that. I get sildenafil and I’m not giving a kilo of that to a person but in a dose that’s regulated. This is the case, the opportunity, to get the DEA out of hemp.”

The petition filed by the HIA and RE Botanicals on Oct. 16 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit asks the court to review the DEA interim final rule, “Implementation of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018,” which was promulgated by the DEA on Aug. 21.

About the Author(s)

Todd Runestad

Content Director, NaturalProductsInsider.com, Natural Products Insider

Todd Runestad has been writing on nutrition science news since 1997. He is content director for NaturalProductsInsider.com and Natural Products Insider digital magazines. Other incarnations: supplements editor for NewHope.com, Delicious Living!, and Natural Foods Merchandiser. Former editor-in-chief of Functional Ingredients magazine and still covers raw material innovations and ingredient science.

Connect with me here on LinkedIn.


Todd writes about nutrition science news such as this story on mitochondrial nutrients, innovative ingredients such as this story about 12 trendy new ingredient launches from SupplySide West 2023, and is a judge for the NEXTY awards honoring innovation, integrity and inspiration in natural products including his specialty — dietary supplements. He extensively covered the rise and rise and rise and fall of cannabis hemp CBD. He helps produce in-person events at SupplySide West and SupplySide East trade shows and conferences, including the wildly popular Ingredient Idol game show, as well as Natural Products Expo West and Natural Products Expo East and the NBJ Summit. He was a board member for the Hemp Industries Association.

Education / Past Lives

In previous lives Todd was on the other side of nature from natural products — natural history — as managing editor at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. He's sojourned to Burning Man and Mount Everest. He graduated many moons ago from the State University of New York College at Oneonta.


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