Contact: Lauren Stansbury - (402) 540-1208

Hemp Industry vs. DEA in U.S. Court

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — U.S. COURT of APPEALS for the NINTH CIRCUIT — Today the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and several major hemp food companies in the U.S. and Canada filed their opening brief urging the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to throw out the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) “Interpretive Rule,” which attempts to ban the sale of nutritious hemp foods containing harmless trace amounts of naturally-occurring THC.  The hemp industry is still awaiting the Court’s ruling on their motion to stay the Interpretive Rule until the court case is concluded.

On October 9, 2001, without public notice or opportunity for comment, the DEA issued an “Interpretive Rule” purporting to make hemp foods containing any traces of naturally-occurring tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient found in marijuana, immediately illegal under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1971. Because trace THC does not pose any potential for abuse as a drug, the U.S. Congress had exempted non-viable hemp seed and oil from control under the CSA. Similarly, Congress exempted poppy seeds from the CSA, although they contain trace opiates otherwise subject to control.

Sterilized hemp seeds have been available in the U.S. for decades and are recognized as an exceptional source of protein, omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs) and Vitamin E. Independent studies and reviews conducted by foreign governments have confirmed that trace THC found in the increasingly popular hemp foods cannot cause psychoactivity or other health effects, or result in a confirmed positive urine test for marijuana, even when unrealistically high amounts of hemp seed and oil are consumed daily. Hemp seeds and oil are as likely to be abused as poppy seed bagels for their trace opiate content, or fruit juices for their trace alcohol content. Yet, DEA has not tried to ban poppy seed bagels despite their trace opiates that have interfered with workplace drug testing, unlike hemp foods. The hemp industry is reassuring retailers and consumers that hemp food products should remain on the shelves, as victory in court is virtually certain, and virtually all hemp foods on the market have undetectable THC according to the official Health Canada testing protocol.

A positive court ruling will allow the hemp foods industry segment to continue its phenomenal expansion.  Popular hemp foods include pretzels, tortilla chips, energy bars, waffles, bread, salad dressing, candy, cereal, cooking oil, ice cream and even non-dairy milk. Unlike the U.S., other Western countries (such as Canada, Germany, Switzerland and Australia) have adopted rational THC limits for foods, similar to those voluntarily observed by North American hemp food companies (see hemp industry standards regarding trace THC at, and no other Western nation has attempted to ban the consumption of hemp foods. The U.S. is also the only major industrialized nation to prohibit the growing of 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.