DEA added to list of agencies ordered to adapt to hemp legalization

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is the latest agency being ordered to accommodate hemp legalization using a budget maneuver.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, announced Thursday he is championing a requirement that the DEA “identify or develop on-the-spot field testing technologies” to distinguish hemp from marijuana.

The need for speedier cannabis tests has bedeviled law enforcement nationwide since Congress changed the plant’s classification last year in the 2018 Farm Bill.

Cannabis varieties with no more than 0.3% THC are considered legal hemp and are no longer controlled substances, making police tests that check only for the presence of THC inadequate.

The requirement came as an amendment to a larger spending measure and has yet to be adopted by the full Senate.

Members of Congress frequently use budget amendments to direct administrative agencies to act.

Earlier this month, McConnell promoted a separate budget amendment telling the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to issue an “enforcement discretion policy and appropriate regulatory activities” on the sale of hemp-derived CBD products.

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