DEA Releases Interim Final Rule on Hemp and CBD Products

The Drug Enforcement Administration has released interim final rules regarding hemp and CBD products, to bring the agency into compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill.

The rules revise the definition of THC and marijuana extracts under the Controlled Substances Act to exclude substances considered legal hemp. Under the 2018 farm bill, legal hemp is defined as those products containing less than .3% THC.

The DEA’s rule also removes CBD-based drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration from Schedule V of the CSA. The DEA took a similar position in April 2020, when it removed the FDA-approved CBD epilepsy medication Epidolex from Schedule V status.

While the DEA stated that public comment on the proposed rule is “unnecessary in this instance” because the agency is merely conforming to new law, it will be accepting public comment through October 20th.

Some critics, however, assert that the DEA’s interim rule may negatively impact cannabis processing.  Critically, the rule does not allow for products containing more than .3% THC at any stage of the processing. This means that processors that inadvertently create products with more than .3% THC would be in possession of a schedule I substance, even if those products were later diluted or destroyed.

While the federal government has taken efforts to legalize hemp and CBD products in recent years, the DEA’s regulation may have a chilling effect on cannabis processing. The coming months are likely to see refinement of these rules, and other existing regulations, as businesses grapple with the complex and everchanging requirements of the cannabis industry.