Group Asks DEA to Make It Easier to Grow Hemp

A group of entrepreneurs, a former United States Attorney, farmers, state legislators, scientists, and environmentalists have petitioned the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to change its definition of marijuana to make it easier to grow a wider variety of industrial hemp plants.

The current DEA definition of marijuana is too broad, and wrongly includes hemp, said Andy Kerr, one of the petition authors and a founding board member of the North American Industrial Hemp Council.

Specifically, the DEA prohibits cultivation of any plant belonging to the cannabis sativa family, which includes marijuana and hemp. The latter isn’t an intoxicant and so the definition should be changed, Kerr said.

Barry Grissom, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas and a petitioner, said in a news release announcing the petition: “It is a misallocation of law enforcement resources to continue to pretend that industrial hemp is a drug.”

Kerr acknowledged the definition has’t prevented hemp cultivation from being legal in 20-plus states, but said most states define industrial hemp as having no more than 0.3% THC. This needlessly limits the number of cannabis varieties that may be bred and cultivated, Kerr said.

He’d like the DEA to explicitly exclude hemp from the current definition by defining industrial hemp as any part of a plant in the cannabis group that has no more than 1% THC, the definition used by West Virginia.