WASHINGTON, DC — Vote Hemp, which advocates for industrial hemp in Washington, DC, and the Hemp Industries Association (HIA), representing over 200 hemp companies, are concerned by recent Associated Press and USA Today news reports alleging that lollipops “flavored with hemp oil” are “legal.” Hemp seed oil is in fact not used in such candies, and both groups are formally advising that last year’s federal court decision affirming the legality of hemp seed and oil foods DOES NOT cover candies or other products made with Cannabis flower essential oil. This essential oil is steam-distilled from the resin in the flowers and leaves of the Cannabis plant and/or from trace resin in the exempted portions of the plant, including stalks, and thus remains controlled and unlawful under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
Joe Sandler, HIA’s attorney and counsel in HIA v. DEA, in a February 24, 2004 legal advisory the HIA sent to its membership, clarified that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld legal hemp foods was limited to those made from hemp seeds or oil derived from the seed, but does not apply to the Cannabis flower essential oil used to flavor some candy products. (You can read the court ruling here.) “Cannabis flavored lollipops and candy should not be considered a hemp food under the exemption in the Controlled Substances Act [21 U.S.C. §802(16)],” stated Mr. Sandler. “Although Cannabis flavored candies likely will not cause a psychoactive effect and contain insignificant trace amounts of THC, they will be considered illegal insofar as they include fragrance or flavorings derived from the non-exempt trace resin of hemp stalks or other parts of the Cannabis plant.”
On February 6, 2004 the HIA won their 2 1/2-year-old lawsuit HIA v. DEA, invalidating the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) misguided attempt to rewrite the definition of marijuana to include nutritious and safe hemp seed and hemp seed oil. However, brands such as “Chronic Candy” and “Pot Suckers” are importing and selling candies flavored with Cannabis flower essential oil not covered under HIA v. DEA.
“While there is no drug effect from the Cannabis flower essential oil, we understand the efforts of federal and state law enforcement authorities to stop the marketing and sale of these products that prominently associate with marijuana and are not exempted from the CSA,” says David Bronner, Chair of the Food and Oil Committee of the HIA. “Such marketing and sale can only lead to public confusion about bonafide hemp seed and oil in safe, healthy foods that are intentionally not marketed as having anything to do with marijuana.”
“The bottom line is that these candies are being marketed solely to play off marijuana, and the Cannabis flower essential oil is a marijuana flavoring that has nothing to do with industrial hemp,” says Tom Murphy, National Outreach Coordinator for Vote Hemp. “These lollipops are, in the eyes of the law, pot-on-a-stick, and should not in any way be associated with nutritious hemp foods, no more than controlled opium essential oil fragrance should be confused with exempt poppy seeds consumed on bagels every day.”
Hemp Foods are Safe and Nutritious
Hemp seed derived from non-psychoactive industrial hemp is one of the most perfect nutritional resources in all of nature. In addition to its mild nutty flavor, the seed meat protein supplies all essential amino acids in an easily-digestible form and with a high protein efficiency ratio. But most importantly, hemp seed and hemp seed oil offer high concentrations of two essential fatty acids (EFAs), omega-3 and omega-6, in perfect balance. EFAs are the “good fats” that doctors recommend as part of a healthy, balanced diet. This superior nutritional profile makes hemp nut (shelled seed) and hemp seed oil ideal for a wide range of functional food applications and as an effective fatty acid supplement. Given that the FDA is warning pregnant and nursing mothers about trace mercury in fish and fish oil supplements that are the traditional omega-3 sources in the American diet, hemp seed and hemp seed oil foods are experiencing incredible growth in natural food stores around the country. The recently-revived global hemp market is a thriving commercial success. 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.