A cannabis worker holds in their hand a thin slab of concentrate.

Sarah Climaco

DEA Seeks to Have Lawsuit Against ‘Marijuana Extract’ Rule Tossed

The DEA is moving to have a lawsuit dismissed that challenges their December rule change which applies a Controlled Substances Number for “marijuana extract,” according to a report from the Cannabist. The lawsuit contends that the change moves hemp-derived products into the definition, running afoul of the 2014 federal Farm Bill.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Hemp Industries Association, Centuria Natural Foods, and R.M.H. Holdings Inc., by the Hoban Law Group. Patrick Goggin, an attorney for the petitioners, contends that the rulemaking process “is at the very least troubling and additionally there were intervening factors” between the time when the rule was proposed in 2011 and when it was finalized in 2015. Goggin also objected to the DEA claim that the new code applies “only to extracts derived from a plant of the genus Cannabis.”

“It’s a simple fix: Replace genus Cannabis plants with ‘marijuana plants,’” Goggin said in the report. “If you mean what you say, say what you mean. It goes back to the question: Why are you referring to it as genus Cannabis and the [Controlled Substances Act], which defines marijuana and not the genus Cannabis?”

Following the rule change, DEA Spokesman Russ Baer said the change actually makes researching CBD – which is often derived from hemp – easier and the rule gives “priority…to those researchers who are conducting research with marijuana extracts” which the code allows the agency to “track and prioritize.”

“The code helps … distinguish scientific research between marijuana on one hand and marijuana extracts on the other,” he said, although he declined to comment on the lawsuit.

According to the report, the DEA claims the petitioners cannot challenge the rule because they didn’t participate in the rulemaking process; the rule doesn’t impose new penalties or restrict business activities; and the argument that the rule conflicts with the Farm Bill is invalid.

Goggin said the DEA brief hinges on procedural arguments and the agency has “repeatedly misarticulated the intention of Congress in enacting the Farm Bill’s industrial hemp amendment.” He said a counter-response to the DEA motion would be filed in the next few weeks.

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