Under current Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulation, marijuana-extract products, such as hemp, are considered a separate Schedule I drug from Marijuana. Schedule I drugs, including marijuana are federally outlawed, though several states have passed legislation allowing for medical or recreational use of cannabis. In January 2017, a group of hemp-based businesses filed a petition with the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to seek a declaration from the DEA that the administration has overstepped their authority with this regulation.
The current rule creates a new Administration Controlled Substances Code Number for Marijuana extract. This rule will allow the DEA and DEA-registered entities to track quantities of marijuana extract materials, like hemp, separately from the tracked quantities of marijuana. Prior to the effective date of this rule, there were Code Numbers assigned to products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and marijuana, but there was no Code Number assigned to track marijuana-extract products. The purpose of this sudden singling out of marijuana-extract products is to allow the DEA to better track these products, which are still considered a Schedule I drug. The DEA hopes that tracking marijuana-extracts will allow the administration to bring their tracking in line with the 1961 treaty called the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The Single Convention tracks marijuana and its extract separately, while the DEA grouped these products together until the new rule.
The hemp industry is concerned that the new rule could single out the industry for unauthorized and excessive government enforcement. The U.S. hemp industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, and federal crackdowns on state-permitted hemp farming and production may drive the industry out of business. Far from a drug, help is used in the production of clothing, biofuels, construction materials, and food. The DEA maintains that the new rule is a simple re-classification of the substance, which is already tracked, but the hemp industry remains concerned. If the DEA were to operate in accordance with their new rule, it is likely that local law enforcement agencies may attempt to disrupt the cultivation of hemp-based products. In states where hemp cultivation has been legalized, it is unlikely that there will be an immediate change in enforcement. The pending challenge in the Ninth Circuit may provide the hemp industry with further protections from federal enforcement.
Our Pennsylvania marijuana law attorneys will be closely following the case as we wait for the outcome. At Sacks Weston LLC, we are proud to protect those in the medical marijuana and hemp industries. We are committed to helping individuals who are involved with these industries through knowledgeable, experienced legal representation.