In August, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released a final interim regulation to implement the Agriculture Improvement Act (AIA) of 2018’s provisions on hemp. With its regulation came an open period for the public to comment, and U.S. Senator Rand Paul responded by expressing my concern to the DEA last week that its interpretation of the law would “have negative consequences for hemp farmers and processors in Kentucky and across the country.”
Dr. Rand Paul clarified that “[t]he concerning provisions regarding the testing of hemp derivatives’ THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] content and synthetically derived THC run contrary to both the plain language and intent of the law.”
Instead of following the AIA as written, the DEA’s regulation contradicts the bill’s definition of hemp and its clear inclusion of extracts and derivatives. It also does not clarify when the THC content of hemp derivatives can be tested, opening the door to a potential prohibition of hemp derivatives or extracts that exceed the 0.3% THC limit while still undergoing the extraction process and not yet being in their ultimate form.
The federal regulation does this despite it being widely known that THC levels fluctuate during the extraction process. If the DEA were to enforce its regulation, extraction would become impossible.
Paul also pointed out that, despite what the DEA claims, the AIA “does not draw a distinction between THC that is naturally occurring or synthetically derived using extracts from a hemp plant with a THC content of 0.3%.”
Because the DEA does not define ‘synthetically derived’ in its regulation, Paul said there is “wide room for misinterpretation and abuse of regulatory authority should the rule be enforced against hemp businesses processing hemp into extracts.” So Paul urged the DEA “to reexamine its interim rule to provide much needed clarity and to ensure it comports with both the plain language and intent of the law.”
Rand Paul has worked hard to remove unnecessary regulatory hurdles standing in the way of Kentucky’s industrial hemp farmers, including championing legislation, testifying before the Kentucky legislature, and advocating for Kentucky farmers in Washington.