The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), the leading non-profit hemp trade association founded in 1994 and comprised of nearly 1,000 hemp businesses, has issued this statement regarding its settlement with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reached on Friday, May 25, 2018, in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the legality of consumption, manufacturing and sale of hemp food products. This settlement restrains further illegal attempts and actions by the DEA to regulate hemp foods as Schedule I Drugs, and constitutes the third installment in a nearly two decade long legal saga known as the “Hemp Food Rules Challenge.” The first HIA victory in the Hemp Food Rules Challenge occurred in 2004, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in its seminal HIA v. DEA II opinion, struck down a DEA rule that would have banned the human consumption of naturally occurring THC found in non-psychoactive hemp (stalks and sterilized seed). Ultimately, this Ruling issued on February 6, 2004, found that the DEA had not followed necessary scheduling procedures to add non-psychoactive hemp to the list of Schedule I controlled substances; and additionally, that Congress clearly did not intend that hemp be prohibited by the Controlled Substance Act when it adopted language from the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act to define the drug ‘marijuana.’ To read the 2004 court opinion, please visit: http://www.votehemp.com/PDF/HIAvDEA_9th_final_decision.pdf.
Since that time, however, the DEA increasingly flouted this Ruling by misguiding federal and state agencies, suggesting that legal hemp seed and oil could not be shipped between states and even directing Customs to seize and destroy hemp oil, including seed oil, if it tested positive for the presence of any cannabinoids, including the trace amounts of naturally occurring THC that are not controlled when sourced from the exempt parts of “marihuana.” Thus, last year the HIA filed a contempt motion in the Ninth Circuit against the DEA for violating the Court’s 2004 injunction that barred the DEA from enforcing its invalidated rule. To read this motion, filed February 6, 2017, please visit: https://thehia.org/resources/Documents/Legal/HIA-v-DEA-9th-Circuit-Motion.pdf.
The HIA and DEA then entered into mediation that resulted in a recently negotiated settlement requiring the DEA to take several actions. Most significantly, the DEA issued an internal and external directive to federal agencies, with language agreed to by the parties, clarifying that the mere presence of cannabinoids does not render material a controlled substance—as the issue of whether a material constitutes a drug is rather in fact determined by whether the material is derived from the non-exempt parts of the plant. This directive should provide clarity to federal agencies and minimize interference with the expanding flow of hemp commerce.
To read the resulting guidance in the settlement of this matter, which was published May 22, 2018, visit: https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/marijuana/dea_internal_directive_cannabinoids_05222018.html.
“This is a great victory for HIA’s membership and the hemp industries due to multiple unfortunate accounts from our members citing DEA’s misguidance to U.S. Customs involving the transportation of lawful hemp food products,” said Colleen Keahey Lanier, Executive Director of the Hemp Industries Association. Joy Beckerman, Principal of Hemp Ace International and Hemp Industries Association President said, “We are grateful to our counsel for successfully negotiating the necessary clarification in this matter and we will remain the first line of defense to ensure the undisrupted continuance of the hemp industries as we bring new economic opportunities to farmers and entrepreneurs, and also healthy U.S. made food products to the American marketplace and eventually around the world.”
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The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) represents the interests of the hemp industry and encourages the research and development of new hemp products. More information about hemp’s many uses and hemp advocacy may be found at www.TheHIA.org.