Members of Congress want the DEA to change its position on hemp rules

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Several legislative leaders aren’t happy with the agency’s attempt to move hemp backward

Nine members of Congress sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) asking it to reexamine its proposed regulations for the hemp industry on Tuesday. DEA released an interim final rule (IFR) for hemp in August, related to the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp and its derivatives, and the outline hasn’t impressed the industry.

Hemp industry advocates argue that the new IFR could threaten hemp processors with criminal charges and undermine the industry’s growth. “Our offices have received countless calls from constituents involved in the hemp industry who are extremely fearful that simply following the provisions of the Farm Bill will result in criminal liability under the IFR,” the lawmakers’ letter states.

“The IFR will likely have the effect of inhibiting these nascent state hemp programs thereby harming those American companies and workers who chose to pursue careers in the hemp industry and made significant investments to effectuate those aspirations.” The lawmakers continue, “requesting a resolution to this issue as quickly as possible,” adding that “DEA must revise the IFR to eliminate the ambiguities set forth above and provide peace of mind to all Americans who have chosen to pursue a career in the hemp industry.

Reps. Rodney Davis, Morgan Griffith, Glenn Grothman, Don Young, Anthony Gonzalez, Earl Blumenauer and Matt Gaetz all signed the letter. The DEA may not have drawn up the new IFR with the intent of criminalizing certain hemp industry practices, but advocates aren’t taking any chances. The US Department of Agriculture also faced criticism over its proposed hemp rules but plans to address them by running a national survey of thousands of hemp businesses that it can use as it develops its approach to regulating the hemp market.