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Hemp Alert

Posted on April 28, 2000

By Rep. Cynthia Thielen, Hawaii

I’ve just learned about Barry McCaffrey’s latest attempt to strangle the hemp industry in the USA and overseas. Please read this email and contact President Clinton, your Congressional delegation, Attorney General Janet Reno, DEA Administrator Donnie Marshall and Secretary of Agriculture Glickman. I’ll explain what has happened.

We all know that Drug Czar McCaffrey of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) issued a March 5 directive to DEA and the Commissioner of the US Customs Service telling them to consider all hemp imports as capable of containing THC. This resulted in Customs Service seizing products from Kenex, Hempola and other Canadian companies, thereby cutting off American businesses from their supply of sterilized hemp seed, fiber, oil, etc.

A number of us protested this situation directly to federal government officials and sought help from Congress members. As a result of the visibility of this issue, Attorney General Janet Reno wrote to McCaffrey stating: “We lack legal authority to prohibit importation of hemp products unless the definition of marijuana in Title 21 U.S.C. Section 802.16 (c) [the Controlled Substances Act] is changed to remove the hemp exclusion.” Her letter continued to say that in the case of hemp, Congress made its decision clear not to restrict hemp imports. Further, the THC levels are too low to trigger psychoactive effect. As I’ll explain, her letter is key to McCaffrey’s next action.

The Customs Service has changed its policy in accordance with Reno’s letter, and industrial hemp sterilized seed, oil, fiber, fabric, soap, etc. are once again legal to import.

Now to the critical news. Barry McCaffrey is proposing amendments to the Controlled Substances Act and is circulating them internally for comment. He has three proposed versions:

  1. Strike all exemptions, completely eliminating the importation, trade and possession of hemp products.
  2. Exempt only hemp fiber which is used to produce paper, cloth, and other “legitimate” commercial products.
  3. Provide for an exemption for products not used for human consumption.

McCaffrey probably is floating #1 as a tactic to make #2 and #3 more acceptable to government officials. However, all three are on the table. Apparently ONDCP and McCaffrey recognize that Congress would need to amend the CSA—this cannot be accomplished through regulations.

It is vital that you contact a number of people to try to stop McCaffrey’s proposed amendments before they reach the stage of being sent to Congress by the Clinton administration. President Clinton should hear from business people as should Sec. of Agriculture Glickman, DEA Administrator Marshall and your Congressional Delegation.

I was asked by a Washington, DC official if there was a hemp trade association. I was told that no group had surfaced as being known on this issue. I did mention NAIHC and Jim Woolsey, but they said those names hadn’t surfaced as being involved in this issue.

Now to specific requests: Any of you who produce hemp products for human consumption, your businesses are in jeopardy. Please don’t delay. Enlist help from Congress members, and write to the president and others listed above.

Those of you who are elected officials, get the help of your governors to write to the president, DEA and others. You should make a frontal attack—protest against McCaffrey’s proposals and then urge DEA/Glickman to release the draft regulations which will allow farmers to grow industrial hemp under certain restrictions. Hawaii’s governor Benjamin Cayetano already has written Administrator Marshall asking when he will release the regulations.

And for hemp trade associations, it’s well past time for you to state your position clearly to Pres. Clinton, and the others listed above. I do NOT include McCaffrey as one to whom you should write. He is doing everything he can to destroy the industrial hemp industry, and with each setback, he simply comes back harder. We need to ask President Clinton to reign him in for the good of America’s farmers and businesses.

Please, please speak out now!

Aloha, Rep. Cynthia Thielen Assistant Republican Floor Leader Hawaii Legislature thielen@aloha.net

Copyright © 2000, Rep. Cynthia Thielen. All rights reserved.