Zuber Lawler: Evolving Legal Landscapes: The Impact of Proposed THC-A Regulation and Hemp Definition Changes

Article by: Tom ZuberJanet Jackim, and Jim Ickes


The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has recently clarified its stance, indicating that THC-A, a precursor to the psychoactive compound THC, does not qualify as legal hemp under current federal law. This statement comes at a pivotal moment as legislative bodies consider amendments to the upcoming Farm Bill that could recriminalize certain cannabinoids, reshaping the hemp industry and likely put some hemp growers and producers out of business.

THC-A is naturally occurring in the cannabis plant and converts to THC when exposed to heat, a process known as decarboxylation. Unlike THC, THC-A is non-intoxicating. However, the DEA’s interpretation stems from THC-A’s potential to convert into THC, viewing it through a lens similar to controlled substances.

In the context of the 2018 Farm Bill, lawmakers are debating amendments that could redefine hemp to exclude THC-A. This redefinition is significant, as the current legal threshold for hemp classification is a THC concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis. The proposed changes aim to prevent any hemp-derived products that could yield psychoactive effects upon conversion.

The implications of these legislative adjustments are profound for the hemp industry. Stakeholders argue that such changes could devastate various segments of the market, particularly those involved in the production and sale of hemp-derived cannabinoids, including THC-A. The industry, which has seen rapid growth and innovation, could face stringent new limits that may affect everything from seed sales to the availability of certain hemp products.

Meanwhile, lobbying efforts intensify as various cannabis advocacy groups push for and against the proposed changes. Proponents of stricter regulations argue for the necessity of such measures to prevent the misuse of hemp derivatives, while opponents warn of economic fallout and stifled innovation within a sector that has begun to thrive under more relaxed regulations.

As the debate unfolds, the hemp industry remains on high alert, with business owners, consumers, and legal experts closely monitoring the evolving legal landscapes that could dictate the future of cannabis-derived products in the United States.

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Janet Jackim, Partner, Zuber Lawler

Janet Jackim, recognized nationwide by Chambers USA and named one of the Best Lawyers in America®, is an experienced leader for all kinds of matters related to the cannabis industry. She handled the acquisition of cannabis operations across the nation and represented clients in relation to cannabis dispensary certifi cate applications, buyout transactions, business restructuring, and partner dispute resolution. Ms. Jackim’s clients include multistate operators, dispensaries, producers, cultivators, investors, lenders, landlords, tenants, and vendors

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Jim Ickes, Counsel, Zuber Lawler

Jim Ickes focuses on civil litigation, most often in relation to financial and commercial litigation, as well as family law litigation.  Mr. Ickes has over 21 years of experience in litigation, including experience in all phases of litigation, from pre-complaint strategy through trial and appeal.  He often works in highly regulated industries. Mr. Ickes has a particularly deep interest in emerging industries and technologies, including legalized cannabis and blockchain. Mr. Ickes is a HCISPP (Healthcare Information Security and Privacy Practitioner) and builds HIPAA compliance programs for his clients in the healthcare and medical cannabis industries. Mr. Ickes’ comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of these sectors enables him to provide clients with invaluable guidance on maintaining privacy and security standards in ever-evolving legal and regulatory landscapes.

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Tom Zuber, Managing Partner, Zuber Lawler

Tom Zuber, recognized nationwide by Chambers USA, is the Managing Partner of Zuber Lawler. Mr. Zuber manages matters around the world, including as to deals, litigation, and intellectual property prosecution. He personally manages relationships with more than 10 of the fi rm’s Fortune clients, as well as funds and government entities, including the FDIC. He is a leading voice in relation to a variety of emerging industries and technologies, including legalized cannabis and legalized psychedelics. Mr. Zuber is a founder of the leading international cannabis consultancy Global Go and the leading magazine Global Cannabis Times. He has been named one of High Times “100 Most Influential People in the Cannabis Industry,” and sits on the Board of the Psychedelic Medicine Coalition.

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Matt Maurer – Minden Gross
Jeff Hergot – Wildboer Dellelce LLP

Costa Rica
Tim Morales – The Cannabis Industry Association Costa Rica

Elvin Rodríguez Fabilena


Julie Godard
Carl L Rowley -Thompson Coburn LLP

Jerry Chesler – Chesler Consulting

Ian Stewart – Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP
Otis Felder – Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP
Lance Rogers – Greenspoon Marder – San Diego
Jessica McElfresh -McElfresh Law – San Diego
Tracy Gallegos – Partner – Fox Rothschild

Adam Detsky – Knight Nicastro
Dave Rodman – Dave Rodman Law Group
Peter Fendel – CMR Real Estate Network
Nate Reed – CMR Real Estate Network

Matthew Ginder – Greenspoon Marder
David C. Kotler – Cohen Kotler

William Bogot – Fox Rothschild

Valerio Romano, Attorney – VGR Law Firm, PC

Neal Gidvani – Snr Assoc: Greenspoon Marder
Phillip Silvestri – Snr Assoc: Greenspoon Marder

Tracy Gallegos – Associate Fox Rothschild

New Jersey

Matthew G. Miller – MG Miller Intellectual Property Law LLC
Daniel T. McKillop – Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC

New York
Gregory J. Ryan, Esq. Tesser, Ryan & Rochman, LLP
Tim Nolen Tesser, Ryan & Rochman, LLP
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP

Paul Loney & Kristie Cromwell – Loney Law Group
William Stewart – Half Baked Labs

Andrew B. Sacks – Managing Partner Sacks Weston Diamond
William Roark – Principal Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin
Joshua Horn – Partner Fox Rothschild

Washington DC
Teddy Eynon – Partner Fox Rothschild