Hemp Growers May Take on DEA Over Its Surprising Rescheduling of Extracts

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Following the DEA’s recent decision to classify marijuana extracts—specifically classifying CBD, hemp and all their derivatives—as Schedule 1 substances, the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) said Monday that it is “strongly considering legal action” to block the DEA’s move.

Arguing that CBD products should be defined as “supplements,” not drugs or pharmaceuticals, the HIA said the DEA misused its authority and that only Congress or the U.S. attorney general is authorized to add CBD oil to the list of banned substances.

The non-profit trade association, representing businesses, farmers, researchers and investors working with industrial hemp, said in a press release that the DEA was wrong to classify all CBD products as “marijuana extracts” because the oil could be produced from both marijuana and hemp plants.

“Additionally, the ruling is based on an incorrect and incomplete understanding of how CBD is derived from the cannabis plant,” the HIA explained in a statement. “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 percent THC by dry weight, and which may be cultivated in 32 states in the U.S. per Sec. 7606 of the Farm Bill. Hence, not all CBD products may be classified as extracts from ‘marijuana.’”

Eric Steenstra, executive director of HIA, said that by allowing hemp farmers to produce CBD oil in a growing number of states under the 2014 farm bill, Congress had already ruled on the subject.

Steenstra reiterated that the “DEA has no authority whatsoever to impede the production, processing or sale of hemp products, including CBD products, grown under the Farm Bill.”

Meanwhile, a key finding presented by researchers at the American Epilepsy Society’s 70th Annual Meeting in early December found that CBD oil reduces the frequency and severity of seizures in children and adults with severe, intractable epilepsy.

“Our research adds to the evidence that CBD may reduce frequency of seizures, but we also found that it appears to decrease the severity of seizures, which is a new finding,” said Jerzy P. Szaflarski, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the department of neurology and director of the Birmingham Epilepsy Center at the University of Alabama, at the meeting.

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