DEA Comments Submitted
As the Hemp Law and the 'Interim Final Rule' (IFR) made its way to the desks of multiple agencies, each had it's own separate comment periods for FDA, USDA, and now, DEA. We submitted our comments to DEA, below.
Comment Submitted Via Mail:
October 19, 2020
Drug Enforcement Administration
8701 Morrissette Drive
Springfield, VA 22152
Re: Implementation of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018
RIN 1117-AB53 / Docket No. DEA-500
Citation 85 FR 51639; Pages 51639-51645
Thank you for the opportunity to submit this public comment, on the DEA’s Interim Final Rule (IFR) on the Domestic Hemp Production Program, as part of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (‘Farm Bill’). Over much of the past decade, I have dedicated my life to educating lawmakers, farmers, businesses, and consumers, on the benefits of domestic hemp production. I write to urge your agency to withdraw this concerning Interim Final Rule (IFR) on hemp.
The mission of the DEA is of utmost importance, as our nation battles an unprecedented opioid epidemic, while drug cartel profits continue to fund violence in the US and abroad. It is important to address these issues at the root causes, and focus efforts and limited resources on where they can make the most impact. Through proper regulations, we can assure that Americans have access to the medicines they need, while reducing the risks and likelihood of addiction.
For example, domestic production and regulation of legal marijuana cuts significantly into profits from drug cartels, which helps to reduce violence and is good for national security. And legal cannabis may also be an effective tool to reduce harmful and sometimes deadly opioid addiction. Thank you for your ongoing vigilance in these top priorities. These issues are the priorities of the DEA, hemp production is not.
Hemp has been a major agricultural crop throughout most of American history, and was famously grown by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and other Founding Fathers. Hemp contains less than 1% THC (the current legal definition was codified in 2018 as 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis) and does not produce the ‘high’ associated with narcotics, drugs, or marijuana. Hemp is an agricultural crop, and can also be used as a food and nutritional supplement.
In passing the 2018 Farm Bill, the Congress made clear its intent to clarify that hemp was not a controlled substance, and that its regulation should come from the USDA, not the DEA. This IFR would appear to give DEA some type of authority in a program that should be managed entirely by the USDA. In reading the Law, it was the intent of Congress for hemp to be removed from any jurisdiction of the DEA.
In 2018, it was known and understood by Congress when the 2018 Farm Bill was being debated, that the initial stages of hemp extract processing cause most raw hemp extracts to temporarily exceed 0.3 percent delta-9 THC concentration on a dry weight basis. By deliberately defining hemp, inclusive of its extracts and derivatives, based on its THC concentration on a dry weight basis, Congress made clear that hemp-derived substances are lawful so long as they do not contain more than 0.3% delta-9 THC as starting plant material and in their finished form.
The majority of the hemp industry is composed of hard-working hemp extract processors and manufacturers that are operating in compliance with relevant state laws, utilizing legally cultivated hemp and consistently testing their hemp extracts and finished products. As evidenced by years of compliance since the Pilot Programs began, authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill, hemp processors and manufacturers have been able to manufacture and distribute safe and legal finished hemp products, without creating risk or concern over the illicit distribution of high THC extracts.
Therefore, I believe that the IFR is both overreaching and overly restrictive for an industry that has successfully demonstrated its ability to comply with state and federal laws. If any ‘bad actors’ are actually found to be growing marijuana under the guise of hemp, they will be discovered through the regulatory oversight of State Agencies, law enforcement, and/or USDA, and should be forwarded directly to DEA. Until then, the DEA should defer to USDA and FDA.
I urge the DEA to withdraw the IFR. I appreciate your attention to this matter.
Founder, The Hemp Guy www.TheHempGuy.com
Founder, Hemp Opportunity Fund
Principal, DROZgroup www.DROZgroup.com
Hemp Lobbyist, Vote Hemp (2008-2018)
Contributing Editor, HEMP Magazine