28 U.S. Legislators Back Hemp Lawsuit (Updated)


Notice: This is not of concern to business. This case is not about the legality of industrial hemp derived CBD. This case is about whether CBD should be considered a scheduled substance or not. Currently, “marijuana” is listed as one.

We will continue to monitor the outcome of this case.


Jump to lawsuit ruling

Twenty-eight legislators have filed an amicus brief in support of the Hemp Industries Association’s (HIA) lawsuit challenging the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

In December 2016, the DEA created a new Administration Controlled Substances Code Number for “Marihuana Extract”.

In response, the HIA and hemp businesses filed a petition in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, claiming that the DEA’s decision directly contradicts the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill, which defines industrial hemp as “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

A bipartisan effort, the amicus brief pushes back on the DEA’s final rule and subsequent statements. It states, “The Final Rule runs contrary to the legislative purpose of the Farm Bill by narrowing the scope of legal industrial hemp and by hindering economic growth and research initiatives.”

Read the official brief.

“We have made too much progress on removing government restrictions on this vital resource to allow it to be threatened by overzealous regulators. Left unchallenged, the DEA’s decision could devastate a resurging industry. By filing this amicus brief, we are standing up for the farmers, universities, small businesses, and states that are already benefiting from greater freedom to research and use industrial hemp,” said Sen. Paul.

“Congress took a common-sense step in 2014 by making it legal to grow industrial hemp for research in the United States, yet the DEA remains strangely fixated on lurching this policy backward to prohibit American farmers from legally growing this crop. It’s time to end this unfounded campaign against hemp so hardworking American farmers and entrepreneurs can grow, produce and sell products from this crop that has vast potential to bolster our country’s economy,” said Sen. Wyden.  

“It is a joke to classify hemp as a Schedule I drug.  People don’t smoke hemp.  They use it as paper, lotion, clothing, biofuel, and so much more,” said Rep. Polis.  “The DEA needs to stop cracking down on the hemp ice cream we give our kids and get its priorities straight.  Congress may not agree on much these days, but we did agree that states should be allowed to foster a hemp industry, free from federal interference, just like in the time of our founding fathers.  The DEA has no choice but to follow Congress’s intent, and I am hopeful the courts will side with Congress and hemp farmers everywhere.”

“The DEA is distorting the clear language of our amendment. Industrial hemp is a sustainable crop and represents a great economic opportunity for Kentucky farmers. This crop should never have been banned in our country,” said Rep. Massie.

Source: press release from the office of Rep. Jared Polis (link).

Arguments for the case will be heard starting Feb. 15.


UPDATE: February 15th
Oral arguments in the Hemp Industry Association’s lawsuit challenging the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) were heard Thursday, February 15th in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We are here because of executive administrative overreach,” said Robert Hoban, an attorney representing the HIA.

The arguments and briefs filed in the case, including the amicus brief filed by 28 legislators, will be reviewed. The three-judge panel will arrive at a decision in the next three to nine months. It is not clear how they will decide, although experts can speculate.

If the HIA is successful, it will clear up a lot of confusion surrounding hemp and CBD and help move the industry forward.

UPDATE: April 30th
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals panel rejected the industry’s petition for review. This means, for now, the DEA rule remains in place.

What does this mean for hemp businesses?

Hemp business can carry on as usual. Under the Farm Bill of 2014, hemp-derived CBD is still legal to sell.


Image source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
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