Civil rights

The dangers of the Eastern Lightning: The case of the fake refugees

Fake Refugees case

In recent times, The Church of Almighty God movement has grown as much as the negative rumors about it.

The new monotheistic religion, also known as The Eastern Lightning (Quánnéng Shén Jiàohuì in Chinese pinyin) is getting wider day by day and it already counts almost 4 millions proselytes worldwide, especially in China, where it was born, but also in the United States and in Italy.

The growth of its new believers goes at the same speed as the dangers that it implicates and lately the international press can not ignore these questions anymore.

Since from the very beginning, when The Eastern Lightning had just a thousand subscribers, it generated many controversies but to better understand the current situation it is necessary to come back to the origins of the movement.

This cult was created in 1991 by Zhao Weishan, a former teacher who met Yang Xiangbin, a woman who was just 18 years old at the time. Zhao Weishan believed that God reincarnated in Almighty God embodying Yang Xiangbin, the reason for what since then Zhao Weishan started referring to Yang Xiangbin as “he” instead of “she”.

After the foundation, so many shadows started to appear around The Eastern Lightning that the Chinese Government officially banned the cult in 1995 considering it as dangerous as a terrorist organization.

Many of the worries came out from the methods used by The Eastern Lightning in order to lure more proselytes including coercion, fraud, kidnapping, riots, and even murder.

You May Also Like: What questions should I ask a personal injury lawyer?

In fact, on 28th May 2014, in a McDonald’s restaurant in the city of Zhaoyuan, six missionaries of The Eastern Lightning forced the commensals to provide their personal phone number in order to be contacted at a later time but, when a woman refused to give that information, they killed her.

Even if the facts were undoubtedly clear, some newspapers tried to discredit what really happened, pointing the finger at a different cult. By the way, all this defamation came from Bitter Winter, a newspaper that publishes articles largely recognized as imprecise and free of trustworthy sources. Furthermore, the newspaper is known for its position pro the USA.

Another recent problem concerning The Church of Almighty God is about the recruiting of new believers through social media. Facebook has become a strong instrument to connect huge amounts of people and through fake accounts the missionaries of the Eastern Lightning are contacting many innocents trying to convert them, asking them for money, and destroying their faith. In fact, the word “Almighty” is just a sneaky way to falsify the Christian religion in order to attract more and more people.

But nowadays the most controversial question about The Church of Almighty God refers to the request of the status of refugees in foreign countries.

In fact, in the last months, an increasing number of Chinese citizens are asking to be accepted in the United States, Canada, South Korea, and European Union claiming that in China they are persecuted for religious causes.

If at the first glance could seem legit asking for the status of refugee if someone feels the risk of oppression in its country, in reality, we are just witnessing a weak attempt to escape from justice and take advantage of being in a different country.

Why should we consider these requests illegitimate?

First of all, it’s hard to define a cult. What is the difference between a lawful religious movement and a group of criminals who hide their infractions behind an artificial faith?

A Christian oppressed in Sudan or a Muslim oppressed in Myanmar represent issues so far from some cyber-recruiters who make crimes in the name of a new God.

By the way, the requests of the status of refugee carried out by Chinese citizens to the foreign countries are increasing lately since the numbers of the new believers of The Eastern Lightning are growing too!

Just in Italy, more than a thousand of requests came from China, most of them from proselytes of the Eastern Lightning.

But how can foreign countries face this problem?

In fact at the first time, within the confusion created by the newborn cult, many requests were accepted but now the foreign countries are starting to reflect on their legitimacy since The Eastern Lightning members could be just escaping criminals and many cases were rejected.

This problem also causes many and different consequences because, for example, once that a person has obtained his status of refugee in Italy, he can access government funding for his position.

So, how is it possible to legally reject these illegitimate requests?

For example, according to an article published on 1st May by Lund.News, the Center for Information and Advice on Harmful Sectarian Organizations (CIAOSN) under the Ministry of Justice of the Belgian Federal Government listed 13 harmful standards that can help to detect which cults are potentially dangerous. If a cult meets one or more listed standards, so probably it should be considered illegal and their proselytes can not obtain their status of refugee if persecuted for religious causes.

The criteria are the following as reported by the Congressional Investigation Committee on 28th April 1997:

  1. Misleading or abusing recruitment methods.
  2. Use mental manipulation.
  3. Physical or mental (psychological) abuse of believers or their family members.
  4. Depriving believers or their families of medical care.
  5. Acts of violence against believers, their families, third parties, and even children, especially sexual violence.
  6. Divide believers with their families, spouses, children, family members, and friends.
  7. Kidnap children or take them away from their parents.
  8. Deprive them of their freedom to secede from religion.
  9. Disproportionate financial requirements, fraud, misappropriation of funds and property, harm the interests of believers.
  10. Unjustly interfere with the work of believers.
  11. Stigmatize a democratic society and completely break with it.
  12. The desire to destroy society for the benefit of the organization.
  13. Use illegal means to seize power

Creating ideological chaos, extorting believers’ money, seeking huge profits, infiltrating influential posts and governmental bodies, cults seriously threaten our social order and national security.

So it is legitimate to believe that The Church of Almighty God meets not only one of these criteria. For that reason, the government of Belgium recognized the Eastern Lightning as an illegitimate cult and, as a consequence, all the requests from their believers will be automatically rejected.

By the way on the other side, according to the statistics, Italy has become the most desirable country for the proselytes of the Church of Almighty God to ask for the status of refugee and, consequently, obtain the subsidies of the State. The most common cause for their believers is to enter the country with just a simple touristic visa and then apply for the status of refugee.

For all of these reasons, it is desirable that everyone knows the reality behind this dangerous cult in order to protect the innocent people and avoid that The Eastern Lightning keep growing using their illegal methods.

The dangers of the Eastern Lightning: The case of the fake refugees Read More »

What is the Product Lawyer

Something happened – you may have used something properly and had it injure you or you took a pill and got sick or you ate some food and got gravely ill. What next?

You want a product liability lawyer. This is not to be confused with a product lawyer who acts as counsel for a certain company and acts as a bridge between the legal and business sides. Now to learn more about what they go after.


Defective Products

 Think about things like car airbags, car ignition switches, and even earplugs. These are all supposed to be rigorously tested to make sure they are safe. There have been lawsuits alleging that the companies ignored bad testing results that wound up having consumers injured.



 There are times when people take prescribed drugs or even over-the-counter (there is a big lawsuit against Zantac now) and have a side effect. This can be because of the drug manufacturer making a defective product and not warning physicians about it. The physician then prescribes the drug and the patient suffers as a result of this.

A drug manufacturer can claim that something is “unavoidably unsafe”, which means that there is danger no matter how they try to make it. These must come with warnings about any side effects, which may still outweigh whatever the patient is going through. That’s why you see commercials and ads where there is a long list of potential side effects that take up half the time of the ad – they are covering themselves from potential cases.


Food Poisoning

 Food vendors are supposed to sell things that are safe for people to eat when they are stored and cooked properly. If someone gets food poisoning despite following all the correct procedures, then they may have a product liability case. The company that sold the food, like a supermarket, may be held liable.

There are variables here and they must prove that they did everything properly and still became ill. This also has to go beyond just being sick for several hours in one day and then feeling normal. The lawyer may go after a negligence ruling or even a breach of warranty.

 There will be product liability lawyers on both sides, likely. One defending you and the other defending the company – this may be the company’s own lawyer. Your lawyer will be aiming to get you or your family members compensation for what happened. If they get you that, then they will consider their job done.

What is the Product Lawyer Read More »

Can workers comp tap your phone?

Can workers comp tap your phone?

YES. A workers comp tap your phone might hire a private investigator, and the duty of this private investigator is to help companies find out when a particular worker is committing workers compensation fraud.

A private investigator may use a variety of tools to help monitor allegedly injured employees. They may follow a target during his or her time off and when he or she is supposed to be receiving medical treatment. He or she may take photographs or video of these activities, especially when the activities do not correspond with the reported injuries. Surveillance may be used even if the benefits have been paid or when the benefits have been denied in an attempt to help the employer’s case. Surveillance is one of the most common methods that private investigators use to record incriminating evidence against the employee.

Surveillance may be conducted by one or more private investigators using sophisticated cameras and video equipment while tracking the movements of the target. Other ways that private investigators track the employee’s movements and monitor the employee include calling the employee at his or her residence under false pretenses or by talking to an employee’s neighbors about other jobs or activities.

Another way that private investigators may monitor employees who have filed workers’ compensation claims is by tracking their internet activity. Social media websites may show supposedly injured employees who are skiing, white water rafting and participating in other high-energy activities after asking for thousands of dollars in benefits for a work-related injury. Individuals who are concerned that a private investigator may be following them for this reason are often advised by legal counsel and their own private investigator not to post any type of picture or comment that may be misinterpreted.

In some instances, employers may provide employees with cell phones. If this is the case, the employer may have stated that employee cell phones may be monitored. Private investigators may have spyware installed on these phones in order to monitor an employee’s movements and activities. The private investigator would make videos and take photographs of this worker, especially when the activity doesn’t relate to their injuries.

Even after paying a worker’s compensation benefit, surveillance is essential even if the employers denied the claim. Monitoring is a popular method private investigators make use of when gathering criminal evidence against a worker. The use of sophisticated video equipment and cameras when carrying out surveillance is essential. Apart from tapping an individual phone, a private investigator can adopt another method like using a fake pretense to speak with the worker at their home or conversing with their neighbor.

Can workers comp tap your phone? Read More »

How long do car accident settlements take?

How long do car accident settlements take?

How long do car accident settlements take? That depends on the facts of each case. In some cases, the settlement amount is an amount that is received shortly after the event occurs. In other instances, a settlement may be for a long duration. The time period can run anywhere from a few weeks to even a few years.

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The first step in determining a settlement’s length is to determine which party is the victim in the case. This could involve determining who is at fault, if anyone, and what type of damages are being sought. For example, in a case involving a car wreck caused by another vehicle, one driver may be held liable for injuries to a pedestrian that was hit by the second vehicle. The settlement will be longer in this case because of the other driver’s responsibility for the accident.

In cases where there are no injuries or wrong doing on the behalf of the defendant, then car accident settlements may take a very long time to come out. Many cases do not result in monetary compensation because they were ruled in favor of the defendant. These cases may result in a case re-taken in the future when new evidence becomes available. Sometimes it takes many years for a case to come to trial and determine if there were any wrong doing on the behalf of the defendant.

If a settlement is agreed upon before a case is filed, there is little time to do anything else with it. In the event that a lawsuit is brought against someone involved in an auto accident, the time to file a suit is generally over nine months. If both sides agree to settle out of court, this settlement will become official and the case is closed. However, sometimes both sides still want to proceed with a trial. Settlement negotiations often cannot continue for more than ninety days due to the resources that must be dealt with in the case.

How long do settlements take? They normally take about three years, but it can take longer depending on how complex the case is. A personal injury case can take longer to settle because of the extensive nature of the case and the amount of medical records that must be collected. In many instances, personal injury cases go to trial before a settlement agreement has been reached because it can take a long time to decide how much compensation will be determined.

How long do car accident settlements take? They typically will be determined based on the results of the initial case. If the case ends in a settlement, then the settlement amount will be divided between the plaintiff and defendant. If the case does not end in a settlement, then the case will go forward and a jury will decide the case results.

How long do car accident settlements take? Read More »

Gresham’s Law And The Practice Of Law

One of the foundational concepts of monetary theory is Gresham’s Law. Named after the Tudor-era financier who founded the Royal Exchange — who didn’t actually formulate it but gets the credit — it states that bad money drives good money out of circulation. If you have copper and zinc pennies in circulation, both nominally worth one cent, but the value of copper is higher, you create an arbitrage opportunity and gradually the copper coins will be taken out of circulation by enterprising individuals.

But the bad tends to drive out the good everywhere. Bad habits overpower good habits. Bad people push away good people. Bad procedures make good procedures irrelevant.

Keep An Eye On Your Bad Habits

So keep an eye on your bad habits. If you’re not careful, they’ll quickly overpower your good ones. No matter how carefully researched and thoughtfully drafted your brief is, a few typos will completely ruin the effect and turn the brief into a mess. One badly argued section will burn your credibility for the rest of the brief and probably the rest of the case.

This certainly doesn’t mean that you should be afraid of taking risks — in fact, timidity almost always reflects badly upon its practitioner — but you should always keep in mind that the importance of carefulness is almost always even more than you expect. Carelessness compounds, and a sloppy mistake is almost always going to draw attention. That’s in large part because you’re expected by all parties — clients, judges, and other lawyers — to be careful and present things clearly and correctly. No one will give you extra credit for doing the basic aspects of your job, nor should you expect them to.

Keep On Task And On Message

It’s likewise important to keep things on task, on message, and on a consistent theme. An otherwise clear, persuasive argument is ruined once you start rambling about some confusing or unrelated topic that the judge doesn’t follow, or start misstating an authority.

Instead, always remember to stay organized and focused, looking to shave off any areas of weakness or distraction that you can find. There are always areas to improve in any argument, and time spent on improvement is rarely wasted. When I prepare for an argument, I typically go over it in my head and type up notes, then go over the notes again and again to tighten it, find weak points to emphasize and see anywhere where I can improve. Briefs should go the same way: it never hurts to go over everything another time — including the old trick about reading it backward — to look for weaknesses and areas of improvement. And pulling in someone else never hurts. It’s sometimes shocking how, after you look too long at something, you end up missing something that is obvious when reading it the first time.

Always Keep Focused On Continual Improvement

Perhaps the best way to avoid the slow rot of Gresham’s inevitable and misattributed warning of atrophy is to focus singularly on continually improving whatever is before you. By keeping your eye on all of your potential weak spots, you can more easily find where the weaknesses actually are. So start today, and make it your goal to keep the bad from driving out the good.

Gresham’s Law And The Practice Of Law Read More »

Am Law 100 Firm Rolls Back Salary Cuts, Pledges To Repay Employees In Full

Yet another Biglaw firm has walked back some of its COVID-19 austerity measures. Back in April, Pillsbury — a firm that came in 62nd place in the most recent Am Law 100 rankings, with $677,320,000 in gross revenue in 2019 — announced a series of pay cuts designed to avoid layoffs. First, the reduced partner monthly draws by a minimum of 25 percent. Then in May, the firm reduced associate and counsel compensation by 20 percent and cut all staff compensation by up to 15 percent for those who make more than $100,000 and by 10 percent for those making between $75,000 and $100,000 (with chief officers volunteering to take higher reductions, commensurate with those of partners).

Now, the firm is not only rolling back the cuts, but its repaying all employees who lost money during the height of the coronavirus crisis. From the American Lawyer:

Pillsbury said in a Thursday statement that its financial performance in the first and second quarters was strong. “Consequently, all reductions in compensation incurred in the first half of 2020 are being repaid in full and we are reducing all temporary salary reductions,” the firm said.

The adjusted salary cuts for Pillsbury associates and counsel are now 15%, down from 20%. For staff making more than $100,000, the pay cut is 10%, down from 15%, and for staff making between $75,000 and $100,000, the pay cut is 5%, down from 10%.

We believe that Pillsbury is the first firm to commit to repaying all of its employees in full for the money they lost due to the salary cuts. (Others have offered “bonus” payments as repayment, but not as an across the board policy.)

Congratulations to everyone at Pillsbury. This is great news for a great weekend.

If your firm or organization is slashing salaries, closing its doors, or reducing the ranks of its lawyers or staff, whether through open layoffs, stealth layoffs, or voluntary buyouts, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Our vast network of tipsters is part of what makes Above the Law thrive. You can email us or text us (646-820-8477).

More Firms Are Partially Restoring Pay, but Full Salaries May Wait Until 2021 [American Lawyer]

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America Was Ripe For Humiliation

In 1793, China’s Qianlong emperor dispatched a letter to King George III of Great Britain in response to the haughty demands of Lord Macartney’s embassy to Beijing. He wrote, “Our dynasty’s majestic virtue has penetrated unto every country under Heaven, and Kings of all nations have offered their costly tribute by land and sea. As your ambassador can see for himself, we possess all things. I set no value on objects strange or ingenious, and have no use for your country’s manufactures.”

Historians have lately questioned the popular interpretation of the emperor’s letter as signaling China’s rejection of modernity and setting it up for later victimization by technologically more advanced Western colonial powers. Nevertheless, one can’t deny the stark contrast between the emperor’s hubris — writing dismissively of “barbarian merchants” and asserting China’s global preeminence — and his country’s 1839 defeat in the first Opium War, kicking off its Century of Humiliation. It illustrates how rapidly a nation standing proudly at the top of the heap — China in the early 1800s was the world’s largest economy — can be brought to its knees.

China’s dramatic reversal of fortunes less than 50 years after the Qianlong emperor’s letter has been on my mind as a growing number of countries have shut their doors to American visitors due to our country’s inability to contain COVID-19. It’s a tragic reminder that it was only a matter of time before we went the way of all great powers that have experienced national decline — initially remote and equivocal, then suddenly undeniable and inexorable — after long imagining themselves invincible to the vicissitudes of history.

Where the emperor of China wrote that his country’s majestic virtue had penetrated unto every country under Heaven, we call ourselves “The Greatest Nation in the World.” Where China possessed all things and had no use for other countries’ manufactures, we boast of our “American exceptionalism” and never want for excuses for why we’re the only industrialized nation without universal healthcare.

But nobody stays on top forever. China learned that when it lost the first Opium War. Britons finally saw the sun set on their empire with the Suez Crisis of 1956. Thirty years later, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster set in motion the collapse of the Soviet Union. Scholars writing the history of the decline and fall of the American Empire will likely view COVID-19 in a similar light: the decisive event exposing and amplifying all the warning signs that we hitherto ignored or deprioritized because we were riding high and could avoid treating self-improvement or renewal with any urgency. Indeed, with 4.4 million Americans infected and 150,000 dead, “greatest” and “exceptional” have taken on a perverse new meaning.

Our country’s sudden humiliation should not be regarded as a deserved comeuppance or greeted with schadenfreude any more than the suffering experienced by countless Chinese as the Qing Dynasty crumbled and colonial powers picked over its carcass. But for ordinary Americans, decline is no longer a distant abstraction.

For example, our passport officially affords us visa-free entry to more than 180 countries, but presently leaves us looking like the uncool people outside the nightclub to whom the bouncer coldly says “not on the list” before unhooking the velvet rope for the VIPs. Our economy, which was long the envy of the world and had seen sustained and steady growth since the Obama administration, now sinks to levels of penury unseen since the Great Depression, even as other developed countries’ economies have started growing again thanks to their leaders’ smarter policies for mitigating the economic consequences of lockdowns.

Now, the deficiencies we accepted for so long are laid bare. We can no longer overlook that even before COVID-19, millions of Americans were a cancer diagnosis away from bankruptcy or left begging from strangers to pay for medical care. We can no longer dismiss that China built the world’s largest high-speed rail network in less than two decades while our already decrepit passenger rail system has to cut back on service. We can no longer disregard that people in Western European countries have long enjoyed a higher quality of life — with better pay, stronger labor protections and benefits, and greater upward mobility — than we do.

Before COVID-19, some variation of “love it or leave it” often greeted anyone with the temerity to suggest we have anything to learn from other countries, as if suggesting so were unpatriotic. After all, if you’re already convinced that you’re the Greatest Nation in the World and exceptional, why look beyond your borders and bother noticing that many other countries offer their citizens a quality of life palpably superior to ours?

That same arrogance is an underappreciated reason we ended up with Donald Trump as president and unable to dig ourselves out of the COVID-19 hole. Since the end of World War II, our peer nations have had their share of bad leaders, but with few exceptions, they have understood the importance of choosing people to helm the ship of state who are competent and put their countries’ best feet forward on the global stage. But we elected as president an individual obviously and manifestly unsuited to public office, a bigoted charlatan whose track record consisted almost entirely of failing upward and who clearly endangered the welfare of the nation and had no interest in uniting it. Racism among the electorate goes a long way to explaining Trump’s victory, but another reason is that being the Greatest Nation in the World, ever exceptional, granted us the luxury to be undiscerning about whom we put in charge.

COVID-19 has shown us we can no longer afford such wanton carelessness and arrogance.

Our arrogance doesn’t leave us incapable of self-reflection or mean that we’re behind the curve in every respect. The massive outpouring of support for Black Lives Matter dwarfs any effort among white Europeans to address the equally horrific racism, discrimination, violence, and poverty that the continent’s Roma people face. And alongside its gleaming bullet trains, China has constructed the biggest concentration camp system since World War II to detain and abuse Uyghurs and other minorities on the basis of ethnicity and religion.

It’s the capacity for national self-reflection demonstrated by BLM that mitigates my pessimism. While the COVID-19 disaster shows that we’ve finally pushed our luck too far, I’m equally hopeful that it could engender a sense of humility that could make us more receptive to the idea that maybe we’re not the best at everything and that the world indeed has a few things to teach us.

But tempered pessimism shouldn’t lead to optimism. What we need now is to instead be realistic and to accept that we have two paths to choose. The more challenging path is to become a better country and provide our people with a better quality of life. The easier path is to descend further into self-satisfied exceptionalist delusion, even while the rest of world passes us by, as our nation continues to fall apart.

Where China’s emperor wrote off Britain’s manufactures, our emperor walks naked through the streets. Let’s not allow ourselves to become the country where the kid who points out his nudity is whisked away by camo-clad secret police in an unmarked minivan.

America Was Ripe For Humiliation Read More »

Trump Targets TikTok

If your teenager is showing a sudden interest in the separation of powers or other legal matters, this is probably why.

–Professor Bobby Chesney explaining Trump’s new vendetta against TikTok to the masses. In a new piece for Lawfare, Chesney gives you the quick rundown on presidential authority over foreign commerce.

Trump Targets TikTok Read More »

Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Apologizes For The Epic Failure That Was The Canceled State Bar Exam

We acknowledge and accept the criticism that has been directed at the court and the Board of Bar Examiners. Our inability to offer the bar examination in August was a failure. We apologize for that failure. I can’t guarantee you that the path forward will be flawless, but I can guarantee you that we have learned from this mistake and that it will not be repeated.

— Chief Justice Charles Canady of the Florida Supreme Court, apologizing to all candidates for the state’s bar exam that was supposed to take place earlier this week, via video. The bar exam was canceled at the last minute due to technical issues. Canady promised that Florida would hold a bar exam, “one way or another,” in October. 

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Watch Out! The DEA Just Passed a BAD Interim Rule Impacting Hemp CBD and Other Cannabinoids

On August 20, 2020, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued an interim rule on hemp, hemp-derived CBD (Hemp CBD) and other hemp-derived cannabinoids.

According to the DEA, “[t]he interim final rule merely conforms DEA’s regulations to the statutory amendments to the [Controlled Substances Act (CSA)] that have already taken effect, and it does not add additional requirements to the regulations.”

If you’re in the hemp derivative business, trust the DEA at your own peril. While it is true that the 2018 Farm Bill did legalize hemp, hemp derivatives, hemp extracts, and cannabinoids in hemp, it did not explicitly cover hemp processing. I recently wrote about this regulatory gap and you can see it on an infographic.

The regulatory gap that skips over hemp processing is relevant to understand the danger of the DEA’s interim rule and how it is inconsistent with the 2018 Farm Bill.

The 2018 Farm Bill defines hemp as the plant Cannabis Sativa L. with a delta-9 THC concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis. The 2018 Farm Bill also defines hemp to include all derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids of hemp. It is undeniable that the hemp plant and hemp derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids are no longer controlled substances. It would then logically follow that it is legal to process the hemp plant into legal derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids. The DEA’s interim rule however, does not take that into account.

Here is the dangerous language from the DEA’s interim rule:

[The 2018 Farm Bill limits] the definition of marihuana to only include cannabis or cannabis-derived material that contain more than 0.3% delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (also known as Δ9-THC) on a dry weight basis. Thus, to fall within the current CSA definition of  marihuana, cannabis and cannabis-derived material must both fall within the pre-[2018 Farm Bill] CSA definition of marihuana and contain more than 0.3 percent Δ9-THC on a dry weight basis. Pursuant to the [2018 Farm Bill], unless specifically controlled elsewhere under the CSA, any material previously controlled under Controlled Substance Code Number 7360 (marihuana) or under Controlled Substance Code Number 7350 (marihuana extract), that contains 0.3% or less of Δ9-THC on a dry weight basis—i.e., “hemp” as that term defined under the [2018 Farm Bill]—is not controlled. Conversely, any such material that contains greater than 0.3% of Δ9-THC on a dry weight basis remains controlled in schedule I.

In order to extract cannabinoids from hemp, hemp plant material must go through an extraction process. This extraction process almost certainly results in a temporary increase in Delta-9 THC. As cannabinoids are isolated it is nearly impossible to control the levels of delta-9 THC from increasing through that process. This means that under the DEA’s interim rule, the processor would be in possession of a schedule I substance, even if the processor dilutes the end product down to the requisite level of 0.3% delta-9 THC or destroys any delta-9 THC by product.

To be clear, the DEA is not just saying that an end product cannot contain more than 0.3% delta-9 THC. It takes a bad-faith reading of the 2018 Farm Bill to assert that delta-9 THC-rich products derived from hemp are no longer controlled substances. For example, if a processor extracted delta-9 THC from hemp and sold it as a delta-9 THC isolate, it would be hard to argue that the 2018 Farm Bill exempted that product from the CSA. And if the DEA were only saying that end-use products could not contain more than 0.3% delta-9 THC, that would be fairly uncontroversial. The 2018 Farm Bill clearly indicates that it is not removing intoxicating delta-9 THC from the CSA after all.

But here is the issue: the 2018 Farm Bill does account for hemp derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids. It follows that the legislative intent was not to make processing hemp into extracts, derivatives, and cannabinoids a violation of the CSA. The DEA has either unintentionally or deliberately failed to account for this nuance and it could have a major chilling effect on the Hemp CBD industry or the fast-growing delta-8 THC market. I’ll let you decide whether the DEA is ignorant or nefarious, but I believe that this is an intentional move by the DEA to maintain its authority over cannabis. To be fair I also think the DEA should be disbanded so maybe I am biased.

Regardless of the intent behind the rule, it does create real criminal risk for anyone who processes hemp. If you are concerned about this you can submit comments to the DEA until October 20, 2020. The interim rule is effective as of August 21, so it is currently the law of the land despite still being open for comment.

We will continue to monitor for any enforcement actions taken by the DEA and will continue to write about the DEA’s rule and its impact on the hemp industry, including Hemp CBD and hemp-derived delta-8 THC.

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