'Hemp Food' Production in Danger 

'Hemp Food' Production in Danger 
Posted by FoM on April 28, 2002 at 16:08:44 PT
By Jeremy Hsieh, Special to The Diamondback 
Source: Diamondback
The Hemp Industry Association and the Drug Enforcement Administration are in a legal battle over the future of hemp food products that could take months to resolve and could result in a ban on all foods that contain any amount of hemp. In October 2001, the DEA issued a statement that clarified the Controlled Substances Act saying the production and distribution of hemp food products are illegal. Increasingly popular hemp clothing and cosmetic products were not outlawed because THC [tetrahydrocannabinol], the psychoactive agent in marijuana, is not ingested. 
"When Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, they named THC as a controlled substance," said DEA spokesman Will Glasty. The temporary ban created problems for hemp food distributors and resalers. "We used to order hemp granola called Hemp Plus," said Alex Nichols, a freshman psychology major who works at the Maryland Food Co-op. "We stopped when we heard there might be legal problems. As soon as the first ban was made, then I think a lot of companies started to snatch it up real quick." The product was so popular that customers would special order 25-pound cereal boxes, Nichols said. "It's just the best granola we carried," said Caitlin Carty, a senior English and women's studies major who also works at Maryland Food Co-op. "It had a really good flavor and a good crunch to it. And hemp seeds are very nutritious." On March 7, the 9th District Federal Court of Appeals in California temporarily blocked the DEA's rule by granting the Hemp Industry Association's motion of stay. Current congressional members expressed disapproval of the hemp rule in a letter sent the same day to the DEA. U.S. Representative Connie Morella (R-Md.) and 17 other members of Congress signed a letter that said current technologies can detect trace amounts of THC in everyday products and that the existing provisions in the Controlled Substances Act prevent psychoactive effects of THC. The letter also said the DEA's "zero tolerance" on THC in hemp food products is overly restrictive. Cannabis, the plant that produces marijuana, produces hemp seeds high in essential fatty acids, protein, dietary fiber and B-vitamins. Byproducts from the plant also include oils for cosmetic products and stalky fibers used to make paper, rope, fiberglass and other durable materials. Hemp production is not illegal in most industrialized countries, unlike the United States. All unrefined hemp products are imported from countries such as Canada and Mexico for domestic industries. The DEA defines hemp as the stalks and seeds of the cannabis plant. Hemp proponents say this is an oversimplification that fails to draw important distinctions between the industrial strains of cannabis and the strains used specifically for harvesting marijuana. "Comparing hemp to marijuana is like comparing a Chihuahua to a St. Bernard," said David Bronner, chair of the Food and Oil Committee of the Hemp Industries Association. Industrial cannabis strains are bred to have low THC levels. While marijuana is about 1 to 3 percent THC, in Canada hemp oil is kept below .0005 percent and seeds are kept below .00015 percent, according to TestPledge -- -- an organization that regulates hemp in Canada. These levels are too low to cause a psychoactive response. "Even persons consuming extensively all shelled hemp seed food products currently in the market will find it all but impossible to eat such quantities [to cause a positive result in a marijuana test]," according to TestPledge's website. Hemp proponents say that the trace opiate content of poppy, which is legal, is similar to the THC content of hemp foods, so hemp should be exempted, too. However, there is a legal difference. Poppy was specifically exempted in the Controlled Substances Act, said Glasty. "Regardless of whether you're talking about marijuana, or other forms of cannabis, it's illegal. The Controlled Substances Act names both marijuana and THC by name," Glasty said. Source: Diamondback, The (MD)Author: Jeremy Hsieh, Special to The Diamondback Published: April 25, 2002Copyright: 2002 Maryland Media, Inc.Contact: commentary dbk.umd.eduWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Hemp Links Hemp Foods, a Decisive Moment to Argue Before 9th Circuit Court - April 8th
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