Hemp in­dus­try loses case against drug en­force­ment agency

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - WEATHER - By KRIS­TEN NI­CHOLS

DEN­VER — A fed­eral ap­peals court sided with the Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion and up­held its de­ci­sion that CBD is a Sched­ule 1 con­trolled sub­stance — a ma­jor set­back for the Amer­i­can hemp in­dus­try.

The de­ci­sion, is­sued Mon­day by a three-judge panel of the 9th Cir­cuit in San Fran­cisco, means that hemp pro­duc­ers can only sell cannabid­iol where it is al­lowed un­der state law.

It also means states that al­low CBD — even if they don’t al­low the sale of high-THC mar­i­juana — are vi­o­lat­ing fed­eral law, the same as states that al­low recre­ational cannabis.

CBD pro­duc­ers who brought the case vowed to ap­peal.

“We will be ap­peal­ing, and we will be fund­ing that ap­peal,” said Michael Brubeck, CEO of Cen­turia Nat­u­ral Foods and a plain­tiff in the case.

Based in Las Ve­gas, Cen­turia grows hemp and pro­duces CBD prod­ucts for sale in all 50 states. Cen­turia was joined in its chal­lenge by the Hemp In­dus­tries As­so­ci­a­tion.

The case started in 2016, when the DEA is­sued a “clar­i­fy­ing rule” stat­ing CBD is an il­le­gal drug be­cause it is ex­tracted from mar­i­juana flow­ers.

Hemp pro­duc­ers cried foul, ar­gu­ing CBD can also be ex­tracted from le­gal hemp flow­ers, and there is no way to tell whether ex­tracted CBD came from mar­i­juana or hemp.

Brubeck and the HIA ar­gued that the DEA was at­tempt­ing to add a new sub­stance to the Con­trolled Sub­stances Act, some­thing it can­not do.

The DEA said the ex­tract rule was sim­ply a clar­i­fi­ca­tion of ex­ist­ing law and that it “makes no sub­stan­tive change to the gov­ern­ment’s con­trol of any sub­stance.”

The agency also scoffed at the sug­ges­tion that CBD is be­ing made from any­thing but flow­er­ing parts of the cannabis plant be­cause cannabi­noids “are found in the parts of the cannabis plant that fall within the def­i­ni­tion of mar­i­juana, such as the flow­er­ing tops, resin and leaves.”

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