A World Without Hemp Foods: Why Should We Care?

  A World Without Hemp Foods: Why Should We Care?

Posted by FoM on January 25, 2002 at 14:13:03 PT
By Angela Starks 
Source: Hudson Valley Chronogram 

It’s no passing fad or trendy new health product; the use of hemp as food is an age-old practice that has been rediscovered for its nutritional benefit. For thousands of years, hemp seed has been the most continuously used human—and sometimes animal—food crop around the world. It is also the oldest. The Chinese were eating hemp as far back as 8,000 years ago and early Greek writings speak of its consumption. European monks were once required to eat the seeds in porridge or soups three times a day, and they have long been a staple in Russia where they are ground to make a butter and eaten as gruel. 
Until the 1950s, mothers of the Sotho tribe in South Africa served ground hemp seeds with either bread or corn meal to children during weaning. Hemp has even saved many populations in time of famine, when few other foods would grow. Today, many health food stores sell hemp seed oil, candy bars with whole hemp seeds in them, and hulled seeds that are eaten like nuts. The seeds can also be processed very much like soybeans for use as a milk substitute and other dairy-like products.Yet, because of the confusion between hemp and marijuana, this highly nutritious food has come under attack. A recent ruling and clarification of the law by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has called for the removal of many hemp foods from American store shelves, giving February 6 as the deadline to destroy or remove the products from the US altogether. Currently, it is against the law to sell most hemp foods for human consumption. What is the reasoning behind these draconian measures? And why should we, the public, really care? Whether we consume hemp foods ourselves or not, there is a human rights issue involved when a government makes it illegal to eat an ancient, harmless food. Not to mention the loss of the health benefits of hemp seed based on its unique and valuable nutritional profile.Hemp and marijuana are both classified as separate parts of the same plant species known as cannabis. Under federal law, Congress defines marijuana as those parts of the cannabis plant that are the source of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the substance in marijuana that causes the psychoactive effect or “high”. The marijuana portions of the cannabis plant include the flowering tops, leaves, and resin. The remainder—stalks and seeds—are more commonly known as hemp. While most of the THC in cannabis plants is concentrated in the marijuana, all parts of the plant, including hemp, have been found to contain at least some traces of THC. Unfortunately for hemp food eaters, THC is listed in the same category as heroin—as a “Schedule 1 controlled substance”—and federal law prohibits human consumption and possession of Schedule 1 controlled substances. On October 9 of last year, the DEA published a set of rules that explain which hemp products are legal. Whether a product is illegal will depend on whether the product causes THC to enter the human body. If it does, it is an illegal substance that may not be manufactured, sold or consumed in the United States. Such products include hemp foods and beverages that are found to contain THC, for example: hemp oil, hemp flour, and hemp “burgers”. Sometimes the label on a product may carry a statement such as: “Do not consume if you are subject to drug screening.” Permitted in the category of lawful hemp products, at least for now, are textiles and personal care products such as lotions and shampoos provided it is not discovered that they cause THC to be absorbed into the bloodstream via the skin. Birdseed mixtures are also allowed, provided the seed has been sterilized so that no plants can be grown from them.Some manufacturers and retailers have inventories of hemp food and beverages intended for human consumption, so the DEA is providing a “grace period.” As set forth in the rules, any person who currently possesses illegal THC-containing hemp products will have until February 6, 2002 to dispose of them or remove them from the US. As mentioned earlier, during this grace period, no person is permitted to manufacture or sell these products. Since hemp products constitute only a small percentage of their merchandise, most local health food stores do not foresee any significant loss of business should they be banned entirely.“The people who will be affected are the people who choose to purchase these products on a regular basis,” says Frank Mazzarone, the supplements manager and buyer at the Health and Nutrition Center in New Paltz. “[People] should be allowed to consume what they want to. So, our store won’t suffer financially, but I’m very opposed to the ban from a philosophical and moral perspective.” “The government agencies should take a long, hard look at what they are doing,” says Ken Halpern, owner of Earthgoods Natural Foods store in New Paltz. “It boils down to one thing: have they got nothing better to do? Instead, they should be focusing on things like food additives and genetically engineered ingredients instead of something so harmless. Somebody needs to remind them that hemp food is not a drug!”Halpern has found that some of their distributors are already ceasing to stock hemp food products. “There’s a rumor that whole shipments are being seized, and just being left at the dock.” In addition to a range of hemp body care products, EarthGoods sells numerous hemp foods, including candy bars, flour, seeds, nut butter and chips.Bob Whitcomb, owner of Sunflower Natural Foods store in Woodstock, likewise believes that “it seems foolish to waste so much energy on trying to ban these foods. We sell a number of these products because there’s a call for it. Hemp is a nutritious food with no drug effect as far as I can tell.”Reading over the DEA’s regulations -- -- it becomes clear that this is a ban on the THC in hemp seed foods, not a ban on hemp seed foods themselves. “THC is an hallucinogenic substance with a high potential for abuse,” they warn. However, unlike the effects from smoking marijuana, you would have to consume several hundred pounds of seed in just a few minutes in order to detect even the slightest high. So why ban hemp foods based on their content of THC?Over the past few years, hoping to have their results excused, hundreds of people have blamed their failing of watchdog drug tests on the their supposed ingestion of hemp seed products, according to a Hemp Food Association (HFA) October press release. The HFA states that “the drug testing industry became quite alarmed at what they termed the ‘drug test interference’ defense raised by these folks and their lawyers. So the DEA responded by banning THC in hemp seed products.” (When asked for a response, a spokesperson from the DEA’s Pubic Affairs Office could say only that he had not seen any evidence or formal documentation that would support the HFA’s assertion. Also, he emphasized that the DEA’s recently published rulings are not a new ban on hemp foods, but rather a clarification of laws that were already in existence in regards to controlled substances. The DEA maintains that an illegal substance is illegal even in minute quantities that can occur in hemp foods.) Although it is impossible for the hemp seed itself to contain any THC within it, resin from the flowering tops of the plant often sticks to the outside of the seed’s oat. That is how some hemp seed foods can cause consumers to test positive for marijuana in the extremely sensitive urine tests. Hemp seeds that have the offending outer shells removed, such as the HempNut brand (who make packets of hempseed that you can eat like nuts), are far less likely to cause one to test positive. If you have to pee in a cup for your boss or the government, look for hemp seed foods that at least claim to be THC-free. It is likely that such products will be appearing on the shelves in response to the DEA’s “zero tolerance” to THC. By using hemp plants that have been selectively bred, manufacturers may be able to prove that they have no traces of THC in their foods. “No customer should have to risk jail or loss of a career just by consuming healthy hemp seed foods, so removing all THC is important to responsible hemp seed product marketers,” states the HFA press release.Expecting the government ban for some time, the hemp food industry has developed the technology to provide “zero THC” hemp seed and hemp seed-based products. “Improving processing standards to meet challenges in today’s market is the only way to ensure the long-term viability and sustainability of the hemp seed products industry,” says the HFA. “Responsible hemp seed importers have met this challenge.” But they also add: “Unreasonable fear about THC is holding back the hemp seed industry’s very ability to be sustainable and viable.”Hemp foods have been central to so many cultures the world over, yet only a small percentage of people in America currently buy these products. Some researchers believe this is due to decades of US government and media misunderstanding and misinformation about hemp’s benefits and its association with pot smoking. (For a thorough exploration of this issue—including documentation of the cotton and petrochemical industry’s desire to sideline hemp because it can replace their products, and the use of the THC issue as a smokescreen—read The Emperor Wears No Clothes, by Jack Herer.)Yet, hemp seed is one of the most nutritious foods known, and is especially valuable for its high content of essential fatty acids (EFAs). These fats are crucial to the proper functioning of all our bodily systems. In fact, hemp seed has the highest concentration of EFAs—at 80 percent of total oil volume—found in any food on the planet. In hemp seeds, the two EFAs called Omega 3 and Omega 6 are found in the ratio that most nutritionists agree is ideal for the body’s needs. Dr. Udo Erasmus, the leading authority on edible fats and oils, calls hemp seed oil “nature’s most perfectly balanced oil.” EFA deficiency can result in neurological disorders, impaired vision, high blood pressure, hormonal imbalance, poor immunity, low fertility, dry skin and impaired wound healing.Its high quality protein is another reason to safeguard hemp seed, with its full complement of all eight essential amino acids in a balanced proportion. Hemp seeds also contain a higher percentage of globular edistin (a highly digestible protein which also facilitates digestion) than any other plant.Just a handful of hemp seeds also provides many vitamins, providing especially good percentages of our daily requirements for vitamin B1 and vitamin D, and contain a good amount of calcium.In order for us to legally continue to reap the benefits of hemp, the HFA cites the need for domestically grown drug-free hemp, but this may depend on public pressure. “An effective way to support the fledgling hemp industry is by voting with your dollars,” they advise on their Web site “Encourage others to seek out and buy these highly nutritious hemp seed products. Tell friends and family about them. Encourage their use. This is the greatest power consumers and citizens have, to vote with their dollars as well as their ballots.”The HFA also recommends writing the DEA to let them know that it’s a bad idea to regulate even further one of the already most strictly regulated industries in the US. But the DEA seems to have already made up its mind that there are “only two ways that THC may lawfully enter a person’s body.” According to the regulations, these are: “First, if the person is using a drug product that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as being safe and effective for human use. Second, if the person is a research subject in clinical research that has been approved by FDA...” Therefore, from now on, even if you eat one hemp seed with the most insignificant trace of THC, you will technically be breaking the law.The period for public comment on the DEA regulations closed on December 10, 2001; but it is still worth registering your opinion. Write to: Office of Diversion Control, Drug Enforcement Administration, Washingston, DC 20537; or call (202) 307-7183 for further information. Note: If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny. — Thomas JeffersonComplete Title: Room for a View: A World Without Hemp Foods: Why Should We Care?Newshawk: Nicholas Thimmesch IINORML Media & CommunicationsSource: Hudson Valley Chronogram (NY)Author: Angela StarksPublished: January 2002Copyright: 2002 Luminary Publishing, Inc.Contact: info Website: Articles & Web Site:FTE's Hemp Links Does Homework on Hemp Foods After Rule Imports Run Afoul of DEA Rule Makers Fight U.S. Ban 

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Comment #4 posted by Jose Melendez on January 25, 2002 at 19:32:58 PT:
grin :)
"If you make some spots I wonder how many of us could
   run them on our local cable access stations."Great idea, Mike. Spread the word..
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Comment #3 posted by ekim on January 25, 2002 at 18:50:31 PT:
Tonight on Providence
The show had a lawyer on that had just hosted a Hemp conference and was cleaning up when the star of the show came in his office. Later the star said to the lawyer -nice sweater which he replyed its Hemp. Well its better than nothing. Jose I use to help on our local Cable Access station. If you make some spots I wonder how many of us could run them on our local cable access stations. mike
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Comment #2 posted by Jose Melendez on January 25, 2002 at 14:43:41 PT:

Hemp Food Ban ignores justice
"Hemp products intended for
human consumption have THC at
levels too low to trigger a
psychoactive effect and are not
purchased, sold or marketed with
the intent of having a psychoactive
effect," states a March 2000 DOJ
memo from John Roth, Chief of
the Narcotics and Dangerous
Drugs Section of the DOJ, to
then-DEA Acting Administrator
Donnie Marshall. The letter,
obtained this week through the
Freedom of Information Act,
continues: "[These products] are
explicitly excluded from regulation
under the Controlled Substances
Act. ... We consider this well
settled law. Thus, it appears we are
not able to regulate or prohibit the
importation of 'hemp' products
based on any residual or trace
content of naturally occurring
Nevertheless, contrary to the
DOJ's legal assertions, the DEA
issued an "interpretive rule" in
October immediately banning all
edible items containing hemp seed
or oil found to have negligible
levels of THC. Under the new rule,
manufacturers have until February
6 to "dispose" of such products or
face criminal prosecution under
the federal Controlled Substances
NORML Weekly News Bulletin, 24 JAN 02
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Comment #1 posted by Jose Melendez on January 25, 2002 at 14:38:32 PT:

shreds of evidence
A study published in the September 2001 Biochemical Pharmacology showed 
 that a synthetic cannabinoid produced anti-tumour effects in mice. Ajulemic acid is a patented compound owned by Atlantic 
 Technology Ventures, with the trade name of CT-3. CT-3 is a synthetic derivative of a non-psychoactive THC metabolite called 
 "THC-11-oic acid."

 In May 2001, Atlantic announced that it was working with the US Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense to 
 investigate the uses of CT-3, "a novel synthetic marijuana derivative designed to maximize the medical properties of marijuana 
 without producing undesirable psychoactive side effects."

 Preliminary studies have shown that CT-3 has significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, and with less risk and 
 side-effects than ibuprofen or aspirin. The newest study showed that CT-3 inhibited the growth of human glioma cancer cells 
 implanted into the brains of mice. Although CT-3 was only half as effective as THC in inhibiting tumour growth, its effects lasted 

 This study confirms results obtained at Madrid's Complutense University, published in the March 2000 issue of Nature Medicine. 
 The Madrid study found that rats injected with glioma cells and then treated with THC or a synthetic cannabinoid had a 
 significant reduction in tumours.See:
Cannabinoid treats tumors
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