- The Ninth Circuit declared that decision has no precedential value – meaning it is not binding on other courts or future judicial decisions. The court even stated that the disposition was “not appropriate for publication,” further limiting its value.
- The ruling’s lack of significance is largely due to the fact that it was decided on procedural grounds, not on any matter of substance. The Ninth Circuit ruled that the HIA had failed to meet a widely-accepted principle of administrative law: Before you challenge a federal agency in court, you must first exhaust all of your administrative remedies – and in this case, the HIA had not participated in the DEA’s earlier public notice and comment period.
- There’s even some good news in the order: The Ninth Circuit makes clear that the DEA’s Rule does not apply to hemp or hemp-derived products developed under state pilot programs authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Court concisely states that the Farm Bill “contemplates potential conflict between the Controlled Substances Act [CSA] and preempts it.” Accordingly, other hemp products exempted from the CSA – such as non-psychoactive hemp products that were the subject of the 2004 Ninth Circuit decision – should also be exempted from the DEA Rule.
- Perhaps even more significantly, during the litigation process, the DEA admitted that the marijuana extract rule did not apply to hemp. In a key legal brief, the DEA admitted that the Rule “does not apply to any substance that the CSA did not previously control as ‘marijuana.’ It simply requires that persons handling a subset of the materials defined as ‘marijuana’ write a different identification number on their administrative paperwork.”
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