The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) is suing the DEA over allegations that the federal agency is in contempt of court over a 2004 ruling that forbid various hemp products from being classified as Schedule I controlled substances.
“We will not stand idly by while the DEA flouts the will of Congress, violates the Ninth Circuit order, and harasses honest hemp producers trying to make a living with this in-demand crop,” Colleen Keahey, Executive Director of the Hemp Industries Association, said in a press release. “The DEA must stop treating hemp, hempseed and hempseed oil, which is a nutritious ingredient, as something illicit.”
In February 2004, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the DEA had not followed proper procedures when it added non-psychoactive hemp to a list of Schedule I controlled substances. Despite that ruling, Whole Foods Magazine reports that in December of last year the DEA and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture stopped Healthy Oilseeds LLC, North Dakota, from shipping its hemp protein powder and hempseed oil food because, as a DEA spokesperson put it, “industrial hemp is a Schedule I controlled substance under the Federal Controlled Substances Act.” The reason for the stopped shipment according to DEA spokesperson Russ Baer is that hemp products that “are not used, or intended for use, for human consumption” are the only ones covered by the Ninth Circuit’s ruling.
The HIA argues that the DEA’s decision is a “clear” violation of the Ninth District’s findings and the intent of Congress’ Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill), which puts industrial hemp in a different category than marijuana.
“Thirteen years ago DEA was told in no uncertain terms by the U.S. Court of Appeals that Congress had made its intent clear: DEA has no power to regulate hemp seed and oil, and the hemp food and beverage products made from them,” Joe Sandler, HIA’s lead counsel, said. “It is disappointing that the industry has to revisit the issue, and take this step to compel DEA to obey the law.”