DEA wins latest round against hemp operators in extraction case

A federal judge has rejected legal maneuvers by the Hemp Industries Association and a South Carolina CBD maker trying to get the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to clarify whether it considers temporary byproducts of hemp production a Schedule 1 substance.

In an order Tuesday by the U.S. District Court in Washington DC, Judge James Boasberg said that HIA and RE Botanicals were acting in an “unusual manner” to get the DEA to answer advance questions about a rule the agency issued in August that criminalizes common byproducts of cannabinoid extraction.

The rule is in effect, though the DEA has yet to enforce it.

The judge said the DEA shouldn’t have to explain its position before the lawsuit goes to trial.

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.

The latest motion in the case was first reported by Law 360.