The hemp industry has sued the Drug Enforcement Administration, saying it exceeded its authority in a rule published last month that says “cannabis-derived material” cannot contain more than 0.3% of THC by dry weight.

The Hemp Industries Association and South Carolina company RE Botanicals filed a petition in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Monday seeking to have the Interim Final Rule invalidated.

The industry is concerned that subjecting hemp derivatives to the THC limit would allow DEA to enter hemp processing operations and test materials that have not been turned into a final, market-ready product but may be above the limit.

In a commentary published after the IFR was released, attorney Rod Kight of Kight Law Office, who is representing HIA and RE Botanicals, said “under almost any normal hemp extraction and manufacturing process it is impossible to avoid a stage in which the extract is both ‘wet’ and within the 0.3% THC limitation.” Processing hemp for its oil “necessarily renders the hemp plant and its parts ‘wet,’” he explained.

Interested in more coverage and insights? Receive a free month of Agri-Pulse West.

The rule “improperly establishes the DEA’s authority over legal hemp activities, which is contrary to the plain language and intent of the 2018 farm bill,” HIA and RE Botanicals said in a news release.

In addition, DEA “implemented this rule without following proper rule-making procedures, such as providing the public with notice and the opportunity to comment,” said Shawn Hauser, a partner at Vicente Sederberg LLP and chair of the firm’s hemp and cannabinoids practice.

For more news, go to