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New DEA Regulations Warning

Posted on July 29, 2000

I recently returned from Washington, DC where I met with Congress members and government officials about industrial hemp. I learned that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will be publishing its new rules shortly in the Federal Register. This letter is a warning to you in the industrial hemp industry, and I ask you to forward it to others who may be affected by these DEA regulations.

1. DEA Interpretive Rule. First, the DEA will be interpreting the Controlled Substances Act and its own regulations as declaring any products that contain any amounts of THC to be a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, even though such products are made from portions of the cannabis plant that are excluded from the definition of marijuana. However, the DEA also will publish in the Federal Register a Proposed Rule and Interim Rule, the latter of which will create exemptions to its Interpretive Rule. Otherwise, as DEA notes, its Interpretive Rule standing alone would declare as “controlled substances” a wide variety of cannabis derived products historically allowed by the federal government. For example, hemp based paper, hemp clothing, hemp rope, and bird seed containing hemp all would be considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance under the DEA Interpretive Rule if they contained any trace amounts of naturally occurring THC.

2. Proposed Rule. DEA’s Proposed Rule will revise the wording of its own regulations so that THC refers to both naturally occurring THC and synthetic THC, making both Schedule 1 marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act.

3. Interim Rule. DEA’s Interim Rule will exempt portions of the cannabis [industrial hemp] plant from control to the extent such products are not used or intended for use for human consumption. DEA concedes that hemp paper, clothing and rope “legitimately used” cannot result in THC entering the human body. Hemp animal feed (including birdseed) is included in this category. [I credit Kenex for winning the “birdseed war” and letting trade resume for this product.]

4. Personal care hemp products are in question. Since hemp based shampoos, lotions, etc. come into contact with the human skin, DEA evidently searched for evidence that THC could be absorbed into the skin. However, lacking such evidence at this point, those hemp products are not yet outlawed. However, if comments on the new rules claim that THC is absorbed into the human body from personal care products, then I believe DEA will take steps to outlaw them. This is evidenced by DEA’s action in considering hemp lip balm as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance in its rules, and therefore hemp lip conditioner will be prohibited in the USA. Body Shop, please take note!!

These proposed rules have been reviewed and evidently approved by the US Justice Department, DEA and Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). A July 10, 2000 letter from Barry McCaffrey (ONDCP) to Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink shows where the federal government is coming from, and I quote in part from Mc Caffrey’s letter:

“Many allege that hemp products are only those that are made from the portions of the Cannabis sativa L plant that are excepted from the definition of “marijuana” in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). However, industrial hemp products have historically referred to rope, canvas, machine oil, paper, cloth, and oil used in paint and varnish. Such products were thought not to contain tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and were made from various fibrous plants, including plants such as Cannabis sativa, banana and jute. The United States also has a long history of importing sterile Cannabis sativa L seeds (commonly referred to as hemp seeds) for use as bird and animal feed. Recently, however, Cannabis sativa L seeds and oil, pressed from those seeds, have been imported for human consumption in various forms of hemp products. These later offerings include topical solutions, as well as products specifically designed for ingestion. Such applications for human consumption are confounding [McCaffrey’s word] our Federal drug control testing programs, if they contain THC, and are of significant concern.”

Once these DEA proposed rules are published in the Federal Register, you will have 30 days to comment on them. I urge those of you who will be impacted by the proposed ban on hemp products made for human consumption to immediately contact your US Congress members. Ask them to immediately contact Janet Reno, US Attorney and Mr. Donnie Marshall, DEA Administrator to object to these proposed rules which will make hemp consumables a Schedule 1 substance.

The rules apparently will be published in August. Please get to work on this now!


Representative Cynthia Thielen
Assistant Republican Floor Leader
Hawaii House of Representatives

Copyright © 2000, Cynthia Thielen. All rights reserved.

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