DEA asks judge to toss lawsuit from hemp operators challenging extraction rule

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit from the Hemp Industries Association over an extraction rule that many fear will wrongly criminalize temporary byproducts of the plant during production.

The DEA says in a filing Tuesday that HIA is challenging “a hypothetical regulation or policy concerning manufacturing byproduct” of hemp, and the case belong in an appeals court, not a U.S. district court. Law 360 first reported the development.

At issue is whether the DEA is simply updating its policies to comply with the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed low-THC cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, or whether the DEA is making an illegal power grab by saying that hemp extracts are Schedule 1 controlled substances during a portion of the extraction process when the plant’s THC levels spike above what’s allowed.

South Carolina CBD maker RE Botanicals is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Last month, a federal judge ruled against HIA and RE Botanicals on their request to force the DEA to clarify how it intends to enforce its policy over temporary hemp byproducts.