Complaint Filed Against DEA for Violation of 2018 Farm Act Hemp Provisions

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two hemp industry representatives on Friday filed a petition for review in the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and its Acting Administrator Timothy Shea.

The complaint, filed by the trade organization Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and woman-owned hemp product manufacturer and retailer RE Botanicals, Inc., alleges an interim final rule (IFR) issued by the DEA in August and titled, “Implementation of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018,” has not succeeded in expanding federal hemp regulations as provided for in the 2018 Farm Act (also know as the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018). 


The 2018 Farm Act contained provisions for federal decriminalization of hemp and hemp cultivation, which effectively legalized production of hemp crops to supply raw materials for hemp products in the United States and abroad.

The petition accuses the IFR of purporting to codify DEA regulation statutory amendments made to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), though the DEA claims that the IFR only conforms already existing CSA statutory amendments and does not add “additional requirements to regulations.”

“When Congress passed the 2018 farm bill, it explicitly carved hemp and its derivatives out of the Controlled Substances Act so that hemp can be regulated as an agricultural commodity,” said HIA President Rick Trojan. “The DEA’s interim final rule could create substantial barriers to the legal manufacturing of hemp-derived products, a critical component of the hemp supply chain, and devastate the entire hemp industry. Although the DEA states that is not its intention, the rule must be amended to ensure hemp remains an agricultural crop, as Congress intended.”

Law firms Vicente Sederberg LLP, Kight Law Office PC, and Hoban Law Group represent the petitioners, with additional appellate attorneys from Yetter Coleman LLP.

“The DEA implemented this rule without following proper rule-making procedures, such as providing the public with notice and the opportunity to comment. The petitioners believe legal action is necessary to protect the lawful U.S. hemp industry that Congress intended to establish when it enacted the 2018 farm bill,” said Vicente Sederberg Partner Shawn Hauser, chair of the firm’s hemp and cannabinoids practice.