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It’s Hemp vs. the DEA…Again!


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It’s Hemp vs. the DEA…Again!

Hemp industry leaders urge constituents to submit comments in the Federal Register: “Keep the DEA out of the hemp business.”

By Steven Hoffman

When Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill, it included historic legislation that legalized the production and sale of industrial hemp in the U.S. for the first time in more than 80 years. In doing so, it removed the DEA’s (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) decades-long adversarial jurisdiction over the crop.

Unfortunately, reported the U.S. Hemp Roundtable on September 14, “DEA has stuck its nose back under the hemp tent.” 

In 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR) on hemp, outlining provisions for USDA to approve plans submitted by states and Native American Tribes for the domestic production of hemp. However, in March 2020, USDA Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue testified before a Congressional subcommittee that DEA was opposed to implementing a domestic hemp program, and that it exerted outsized influence on USDA’s proposed rules. 

The DEA “really didn’t like the whole program to begin with,” Perdue told Congress. “This is a new and unusual crop, as you understand,” Perdue said at the time. “Our hands were constrained many times by the interagency process.” Perdue admitted that a number of burdensome and troubling provisions inserted in USDA’s Interim Final Rule on hemp came at the direction of DEA.

Only last month, in August, DEA published its own Interim Final Rule on hemp that, among other things, “could potentially criminalize the hemp extraction process,” said the U.S. Hemp Roundtable in its statement.

As of now, both IFRs are open for public input, and industry leaders encourage hemp industry members to submit comments. “Our message is simple: Let Farmers farm. Keep the DEA out of the hemp business,” U.S. Roundtable said.

“Congress made clear in the 2018 Farm Bill that the era of DEA involvement with the hemp crop was over. So, you can imagine our frustration with the DEA trying once again to exercise its authority over the crop by imposing restrictions within USDA’s rulemaking, and by issuing its own Interim Final Rule which purports to re-criminalize hemp extraction,” said Jonathan Miller, General Counsel of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable. 

“It’s time for us to take a stand, and we encourage all hemp supporters to send comments to the DEA and the USDA through our easy-to-use portal,” Miller added. 

Constituents can easily submit comments via an online portal established by the U.S. Hemp Roundtable that directs comments into the federal registry by using this link. A draft letter is available for use or customizing with your own personal stories.

Jonathan Miller urges hemp industry members to act soon. The comments period closes on October 8 for the USDA, and October 20 for the DEA.

You can read U.S. Hemp Roundtable’s formally submitted comments here:  USDA Comments; DEA Comments

For more information, visit

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Steven Hoffman is Managing Director of Compass Natural, providing brand marketing, PR, social media, and strategic business development services to natural, organic, sustainable and hemp/CBD products businesses. Compass Natural serves in PR and programming for NoCo Hemp Expo and  Southern Hemp Expo, and Hoffman serves as Editor of the weekly Let’s Talk Hemp Newsletter, published by We are for Better Alternatives. Contact

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