DC, September 30, 2004 (ENS): Time has run
out for the Bush administration to appeal a court ruling
earlier this year protecting the sale and consumption
of hemp food and cosmetic products in the United States.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on February
6, 2004 in the case of the Hemp Industries Association
v. the Drug Enforcement Administration that the agency
ignored the exemption in the Controlled Substances Act
that excludes hemp fiber, seed and oil from control.
"They cannot regulate naturally occuring THC not
contained within or derived from marijuana," the
three judge panel ruled, noting that it is not possible
to get high from products with only trace amounts of
the psychoactive chemical.
THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive ingredient
in marijuana, but sterilized hemp seed and oil are exempted
from the Controlled Substances Act under the statutory
definition of marijuana.
On October 9, 2001 the Drug Enforcement Administration
(DEA) issued an Interpretive Rule banning any edible
item containing hemp seed or oil that contains "any
The DEA confiscated truckloads of hemp seed imported
from Canada and prosecuted the Hemp Industries Association
on the grounds that industrial hemp varieties of cannabis
contain trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive ingredient
The administration's allotted time to appeal the Ninth
Circuit ruling to the Supreme Court expired earlier
this week. "The mandate of the Ninth Circuit is
final and their decision will now be the law of the
land," said Joseph Sandler, lead attorney for the
Hemp Industries Association.
"Removing the cloud the DEA put into the marketplace
will spur a dramatic surge in the supply and consumption
of healthy omega-3 rich hemp seed in America,"
says David Bronner, chair of the HIA's Food and Oil
Committee and president of ALPSNACK/Dr. Bronner's Magic
Soaps. "This is a huge victory for the hemp industry."
"More and more health foods containing omega-3
rich hemp nut and oil will be appearing on store shelves
since the legal status is no longer an issue,"
said Alexis Baden-Mayer, director of government affairs
for Vote Hemp.
"Americans are looking for healthy alternative
sources of omega-3 to supplement their diets due to
concerns regarding trace mercury in fish and fish oil
supplements," said Baden-Mayer.
Currently, the U.S. marketplace is supplied by hemp
seed grown and processed in Canada and Europe, but Baden-Mayer
said the Hemp Industries Association will lobby Congress
to again allow American farmers to grow industrial hemp
and "participate in this lucrative growth market."
U.S. hemp food companies voluntarily observe reasonable
THC limits similar to those adopted by European nations
and Canada. These limits protect consumers with a wide
margin of safety from workplace drug testing interference.
The United States granted the first hemp permit in
over 40 years to Hawaii for an experimental quarter
acre plot in 1999. The license has been renewed since.
Twenty-two states have introduced legislation to permit
the cultivation of industrial hemp. Vermont, Hawaii,
North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Illinois Virginia,
New Mexico, California, Arkansas, Kentucky, Maryland
and West Virginia have passed legislation for support,
research, or cultivation. The National Conference of
State Legislators has endorsed industrial hemp.