What Does the New DEA Rule Mean for the CBD Industry?
On August 21st, the USA Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) published its Interim Final Rule (IFR) in the Federal Register on the implementation of the hemp provisions of the Agricultural Improvement Act (2018), also known as the Farm Bill.
Unfortunately, as hemp lawyer Rod Kight discussed, this ruling appears to be an aggressive and heavy-handed ruling from the DEA on the hemp industry. This is because they have knowingly misinterpreted the Farm Bill (2018) in their legislation.
This misinterpretation is two-fold. First, the DEA has altered extracts’ legal status derived from legal hemp plants (1). And second, it inhibits the biosynthesis of a naturally produced THC, Delta-8 THC (2).
In addition to the benefits for human health, many studies have looked at the benefits of hemp and its derivatives on pets’ health. These benefits include its ability to alleviate inflammation, glaucoma, skin diseases, chronic pain, anxiety disorders, and seizures in dogs and cats (3, 4, 5, 6).
So what does the IFR mean for the industry? And what does this mean for you and your pets?
IFR Implications on Hemp Extracts
In the Farm Bill (2018), it states that any part of the Cannabis sativa plant, including seeds, derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, and so on, are considered hemp. These products are considered legal if the plant’s dry weight does not contain more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC.
This definition is markedly different when compared to the current IFR. Currently, it defines that a product from hemp must not exceed the 0.3% Delta-9 THC threshold.
At first glance, this may seem appropriate, but the ruling misses the key fact that hemp extract is “wet.” The IFR includes hemp oil, which will likely exceed the 0.3% threshold due to how it is processed.
Hemp oil extracts include processing the plant by removing the flowers and leaves from the stalk, stem, and seeds. The flowers and leaves are then processed to make hemp oil. This method of using less-bulky components of the plants allows manufacturers to get a high percentage per weight of trichomes. This is also how the THC and cannabinoid levels are produced.
The DEA’s ruling in the IFR is a significant blow to the hemp industry, rendering products that would be legal under the Farm Bill (2018) to now be classified as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance in the Controlled Substances Act.
As stated by Kight, it appears that the DEA has misinterpreted the Farm Bill (2018). While the issue surrounding extracts has been known for some time, the DEA seems to be taking the wrong position and directly threatens the entire hemp and CBD industry (7).
IFR Implications for Delta-8 THC.
Delta-8 THC is a “cousin” of Delta-9 THC. It carries many of the same functions and benefits of Delta-9 THC but with a significantly reduced psychoactive effect (8). Delta-8 THC is a naturally synthesized THC in the hemp plant, and in that respect, is not a controlled substance under the Farm Bill (2018). However, this is not the DEA’s opinion.
Delta-8 THC isn’t produced in high enough quantities in hemp plants. However, it is possible to synthesize Delta-8 THC from hemp-derived CBD, leaving the hemp industry with a particularly tricky legal situation.
As stated in the Farm Bill (2018), any part from the hemp plant with a dry weight concentration of less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC is legal. However, this is not how the DEA interpreted this in their IFR ruling.
The IFR concludes that all synthetically derived THC remains a Schedule I Controlled Substance, despite the concentration of Delta-9 THC remaining under the 0.3% threshold.
As concluded by Kight, this leaves many in the hemp industry frustrated (9). This is a particularly low blow as there is a rapid growth in the hemp market around Delta-8 THC. Many see this as an example of the DEA being overzealous.
What Does This Mean for You and Your Pets?
While there are significant implications of the ruling for many businesses in the hemp industry, it does not impact brands whose products remain under the 0.3% Delta-9 THC limit or do not contain synthesized Delta-8 THC.
There are several current products, including PetFX’s CannaLove™ Pain Relief K-9 Support, that remain legal despite the DEA’s recent ruling. PetFX’s pet supplements contain only industrial hemp and are under the 0.3% Delta-9 THC threshold. They also do not contain synthesized Delta-8 THC.
Hemp itself has incredibly powerful benefits for pets.
Studies show that even as little as 2 mg/kg twice per day can help dogs with osteoarthritis see improvements in their quality of life (10).
The Bottom Line
The DEA’s current IFR ruling concerns many businesses that cultivate, process, and produce hemp products. These regulations are a low blow from the DEA on the hemp industry, especially regarding the level of misinterpretation on the DEA’s part of the Farm Bill (2018).PetFX’s products all remain compliant, despite the DEA ruling, allowing your pets to continue enjoying the well-documented benefits of hemp.