SAN FRANCISCO, CA — U.S. COURT of APPEALS for the NINTH CIRCUIT — Late yesterday the Court granted the hemp industry’s Motion to Stay the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) “Interpretive Rule,” which was issued October 9, 2001 without public notice or opportunity for comment and would have banned the sale of nutritious hemp foods containing harmless trace amounts of naturally-occurring THC under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970. Just this week the industry had learned that the Ninth Circuit’s Motions panel had referred the industry’s Motion to Stay to the Merits panel, who had in turn scheduled expedited oral arguments for April 8. Due to this turn of events, the industry had not expected that a ruling would be forthcoming on their Motion to Stay and was happily surprised to learn that the motion had been granted.
The Motion to Stay was brought jointly by the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and several major hemp food companies in the U.S. and Canada. The court is currently hearing a substantive challenge to the interpretive rule, and in light of today’s ruling, the hemp industry is optimistic that the Court will ultimately invalidate the DEA’s rule, as one of the prime criteria in granting the Stay was whether the hemp industry is likely to ultimately prevail on the merits of the case.
Because trace infinitesimal THC in hemp seed is non-psychoactive and insignificant, the U.S. Congress exempted non-viable hemp seed and oil from control under the CSA, just as Congress exempted poppy seeds from the CSA, although they contain trace opiates otherwise subject to control. The hemp industry is assuring retailers and consumers that hemp food products should continue to be stocked, sold and consumed. Joe Sandler, counsel for the HIA, stated: “The Court’s order effectively prevents the DEA from enforcing its Interpretive Rule‚ until a final ruling by the Court on the validity of the DEA’s action. With this stay in effect, all those who sell, import, manufacture, distribute and retail edible hemp oil and seed, and oil and seed products, can continue those activities secure in the knowledge that such products remain perfectly lawful.”
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 requires for good health. Dr. Udo Erasmus, an internationally recognized nutritional authority on fats and oils, writes in Fats that Heal — Fats that Kill: “Hemp seed oil may be nature’s most perfectly balanced oil.” Not surprisingly, shelled hemp seed and oil are increasingly used in natural food products, such as corn chips, nutrition bars, hummus, nondairy milks, breads and cereals. In the last few years, the hemp foods industry has grown from less than $1 million a year to over $5 million in retail sales.
The court ruling allows the hemp foods industry segment to continue its phenomenal expansion. Unlike the U.S., other Western countries (such as Canada, Germany and Australia) have adopted rational THC limits for foods, similar to those voluntarily observed by North American hemp food companies which protect consumers with a wide margin of safety from any psychoactive effects or workplace drug-testing interference (see hemp industry standards regarding trace THC at http://www.TestPledge.com).
The 10-year-old global hemp market is a thriving commercial success. Unfortunately, because the DEA’s Drug-War paranoia has confused 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.