On Sept. 8, a federal judge in Arkansas granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit against the state, saying that hemp-derived cannabinoids, like THC-A, are protected under the 2018 farm bill.

But a few months before that, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reaffirmed its position that all these cannabinoids are illegal under federal law and not protected by the farm bill, said attorney Clark Wu, an Arizona-based who specializes in hemp and cannabis law.

“Ultimately, it’s hard to say whether this judge or the DEA is more ‘right,’ as different limitations of authority constrain them,” Wu said.

The federal judge indicated that Congress should be the one to decide how to regulate hemp-derived THC products, Wu said.

“The DEA, on the other hand, is viewing everything from a criminal lens,” Wu said, “and the agency is also bound by precedent in agency decisions and international treatises concerning cannabis scheduling. These cases will likely continue to arise until Congress resolves the gap in federal hemp legislation.”

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