Ask Our Experts: Do the DEA’s Interim Final Rules Have Teeth?


Q: What is the status of the DEA’s Interim Final Rules? Are they being enforced?


By Trevor Yahn-Grode, Data Analyst, New Frontier Data

A: Since the deadline for public comment regarding the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)’s regulatory guidance passed on October 20, there has been no visible effort detected for enforcement of the agency’s Interim Final Rules (IFR) regarding hemp production. The inaction may be a response to strong pushback from pro-hemp legislators in the days leading up to the U.S. national elections. Two days after the comment deadline, Oregon Democratic senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley sent a letter to Acting DEA Administrator Timothy Shea, pointing out “that intermediate states of hemp processing can cause hemp extracts to temporarily exceed 0.3% THC, which is why we defined hemp based on its delta-9 THC level… In effect, the IFR criminalizes the intermediate steps of hemp processing, which is wholly inconsistent with Congress’ clearly stated purpose and the text of the 2018 Farm Bill.”

That contention came underscored by lawsuits from industry stakeholders, now pending. A positive sign for the industry has arrived from New York, where state legislators have proposed a new bill to set a legal THC limit of 3% for “intermediary sales” between processors prior to remediation, thus removing risk of criminal liability from processors.

New Frontier Data is closely tracking developments in the arena, and will update any progress or fallout accordingly.