FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 30, 2020
Contact: Press@paul.senate.gov, 202-224-4343
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) continued his efforts to help remove unnecessary regulatory hurdles standing in the way of Kentucky’s industrial hemp farmers by urging the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to clarify and change certain provisions in its Interim Final Rule implementing the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 [AIA] to adhere to the legislation as passed.
In submitting a comment to the agency during the open comment period, Dr. Paul laid out his concern that the rule, issued in August, would “have negative consequences for hemp farmers and processors in Kentucky and across the country.” He then made clear that “[t]he concerning provisions regarding the testing of hemp derivatives’ THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] content and synthetically derived THC run contrary to both the plain language and intent of the law.”
Specifically, Dr. Paul noted that “[t]he interim rule states the definition of hemp does not automatically exempt hemp derivatives from a schedule I classification” in a move that runs opposite to the AIA.
“Furthermore,” he later stated, “the interim rule does not clarify when the hemp derivatives’ THC content may be tested. THC levels fluctuate during the extraction process and could potentially exceed 0.3% THC, even if derived from a plant testing below 0.3%. The interim rule’s lack of clarity could be interpreted to mean that a hemp derivative or extract exceeding the 0.3% THC limit while still being processed and not yet in its final form is illegal. Should the DEA enforce against processors whose products test above 0.3% while still in the extraction process, extraction would effectively become impossible. This runs contrary to the intent of law as it clearly includes extracts in the definition of hemp.”
In contrast to the DEA’s claims that the AIA does not change the control status of synthetically derived THC, Dr. Paul observed that the AIA, the law itself, “does not draw a distinction between THC that is naturally occurring or synthetically derived using extracts from a hemp plant with a THC content of 0.3%.”
He then highlighted the problem the DEA could cause, saying that “the interim rule does not define ‘synthetically derived,’ leaving wide room for misinterpretation and abuse of regulatory authority should the rule be enforced against hemp businesses processing hemp into extracts.”
In concluding his comments, Dr. Paul urged the DEA “to reexamine its interim rule to provide much needed clarity and to ensure it comports with both the plain language and intent of the law.”
Dr. Paul has been a leading voice for removing government restrictions on hemp, and his past efforts, including championing legislation, testifying before the Kentucky legislature, and advocating for Kentucky farmers in Washington, have helped ensure Kentucky can rebuild this historically vital industry and push forward to a prosperous future.