ARLINGTON, VA — The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) received over 115,000 public comments from hemp food and body care consumers and manufacturers opposing their attempt to ban hemp seed and oil products which contain infinitesimal trace residual THC (much like poppy seeds on bagels contain trace opiates). The Body Shop collected most of the comments at their 300 stores nationwide, and Vote Hemp generated approximately 5,000 comments through their website since the new DEA “Interpretive Rule” on hemp food was announced October 9, 2001. Numerous members of Congress and state legislatures have also sent comments to the DEA critical of the new rule.
“The DEA has no public support for the new hemp food rule,” says Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. “After examining the public comments, it is clear that the DEA is out of touch with the general public which is informed about the compelling nutritional and legal arguments in support of healthy hemp food products.”
The DEA handed a temporary victory to the multimillion-dollar hemp food industry on February 7, one day after the deadline for disposing of hemp foods expired, in response to an Emergency Motion filed by the hemp industry. The DEA told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that they will extend the “grace period” for disposing hemp food products by 40 days until March 18, reassuring retailers stocking and selling hemp food products that the DEA would not commence enforcement action until the Court rules on the hemp industry’s original “Urgent Motion to Stay.” Ultimately, the hemp food industry expects to prevail against the DEA’s attempt to ban hemp foods because Congress explicitly exempted nutritious hemp seed and oil from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA, see 21 U.S.C. §802(16)), and the trace infinitesimal residual THC in hemp seed and oil is not psychoactive and does not interfere with workplace drug-testing (see http://www.TestPledge.com).
Students Arrested For Distributing Hemp Foods Expected to Win Case Today
In a separate criminal case, students from Syracuse University arrested for “marijuana” possession while handing out healthy hemp seed tortilla chips and nutrition bars in protest of the DEA’s rule are expected to have their charges thrown out today because a court-ordered lab test of the hemp foods has confirmed that the infinitesimal trace THC in hemp food products is undetectable and cannot be considered a controlled substance. The students, members of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, participated in the nationwide “DEA Taste Test” on December 4, 2001 in which hemp enthusiasts handed out free hemp food samples outside DEA offices in 76 cities. The three students who were charged are considering a false arrest lawsuit because they repeatedly warned the police officers prior to their arrest that the hemp foods they were giving away are legal nutritious foods sold in natural foods stores throughout the U.S. and have nothing to do with marijuana.
Hemp seed has a well-balanced protein content and the highest content of essential fatty acids (EFAs) of any oil in nature: EFAs are the good fats that, like vitamins, the body does not produce and which doctors traditionally have recommended eating fish and flax to obtain. Thus, hemp seed and oil are increasingly incorporated as ingredients in a myriad of natural foods to boost their nutritional profile. U.S. companies are currently manufacturing cereals, waffles, pretzels, chips, salad dressings, breads and granola bars, among other products, that contain hemp seed or oil. The 10-year-old global hemp market is a thriving commercial success. Unfortunately, because the DEA’s Drug-War paranoia has confounded biologically distinct non-psychoactive industrial hemp varieties of cannabis with psychoactive marijuana varieties, the U.S. is the only major industrialized nation to prohibit the growing of industrial hemp.
Vote Hemp is a national non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow hemp commercially.