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Industrial Hemp LegislationOn Wednesday, September 25th California Governor Jerry Brown signed The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act (SB 566). Hemp supporters have been formally lobbying for such legislation since 1999. The law classifies hemp as either a fiber or oilseed crop, and must not contain any more than three tenths of one percent THC (the psychoactive chemical in marijuana). The current market for hemp products in the United States is over $500 million per year and is currently growing steady at 10% annually. Consumer products include body and hair care, food, clothing, and cordage.

The first hemp legislation (HR 32) in California was passed in 1999, but former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to sign it stating that it provided a “false sense of security” as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would most likely destroy the crop and pursue charges under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA). The CSA does not make the distinction between hemp and marijuana as being two separate crops. The CSA does allow specific cannabis byproducts to be imported (e.g., raw stalks, sterilized and/or processed hempseed, textiles, etc), but does not allow the plant to be grown as it will contain trace levels of THC — a controlled substance.

The DEA are the authority in producing permits and they have a zero tolerance policy on any amount of THC. Hemp plants contain trace amounts of THC. However, the amount of THC is ridiculously low (less than three tenths of 1%) and is not viable for drug purposes. If this same zero tolerance policy were applied to drinking water in the United States, water would be illegal as it contains several contaminants including arsenic, and mercury. However, in the case of water the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set limits on what is considered safe. The same is true in the case of hemp. Its recognized throughout the world that industrial hemp can contain up to three tenths of 1% of THC and not be a problem. That standard is yet to be implemented at the federal level.

Growing industrial hemp has also been made legal in several other states. However, its not grown due to federal legislation. North Dakota was the first state to pass legislation that allows industrial hemp farming in 1999. California, Colorado, Kentucky, and Vermont have passed similar legislation in 2013. Of all states with legislation allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp, only Hawaii has legally obtained permits from the DEA. This program was funded in-part by a $200,000 grant by Alterna Haircare, and was overseen by David West, Ph.D.

Federal and State Legislation

While many states have passed legislation that allows for the cultivation of industrial hemp, there is a conflict with the CSA. The CSA is federal legislation and it supercedes state law. This means that even though a particular state may allow farming of industrial hemp, it may still be considered illegal through federal law. For this reason, it is essential that federal legislation is put in place. Federal legislation would allow farmers to obtain legal permits to grow and harvest industrial hemp. If such federal legislation is not passed it is possible that the DEA will destroy crops. This very thing happened in 2000 with the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. Growers may also be subject to Civil Asset Forfeiture, and could be forced to have their crops and other assets seized.

Industrial Hemp is Not Marijuana

Legislators need to understand that there is a difference between hemp and marijuana. Growing hemp for industrial purposes is not the same as marijuana. This is well understood outside the United States in nations such as Canada, China, France, Germany, and Hungary where hemp is legally grown. In 2005 Texas Congressman Ron Paul introduced federal legislation that would make the distinction between hemp and marijuana as well as set-up a system based on similar systems already in place in Canada and the European Union. Unfortunately Ron Paul was never able to get the legislation past committee, and thus it was never up for a vote. While Ron Paul retired in 2013, his son Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is favorable to industrial hemp. Senator Rand Paul has teamed up with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon to co-sponsor federal legislation.

More Work Needs to Be Done

More work still needs to be done to ensure that the proper laws are put into place. Industrial hemp farmers need to be secure in knowing that their hard work and investment will not be lost due to forfeiture. Further, farmers must be certain that they protect their farms, homes, and families. Even though they are not involved in any type of marijuana growing, the laws currently in place (specifically federal laws) do not distinguish between industrial hemp and marijuana and thus they could easily become victims should the DEA decide to prosecute. At the same time, the United States needs industrial hemp production for a variety of products and foods. Passing federal legislation would allow farmers in states that have already passed laws to legally grow industrial hemp with no fear of negative consequences. With proper federal laws in place, more states would be encouraged to pass similar laws that would make industrial hemp farming legal.

Washington, DC — The federal government continues to oppose allowing licensed farmers the opportunity to cultivate industrial hemp for fiber and other agricultural purposes, according to statements posted this week by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske on the website.

Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only minute (typically less than .03 percent) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. According to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, “The United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop.” Farmers in Canada and the European Union grow hemp commercially for fiber, seed, and oil for use in a variety of industrial and consumer products, including food.

Stated Kerlikowske on the White House’s ‘We the People’ website: “Federal law prohibits human consumption, distribution, and possession of Schedule I controlled substances. … While most of the THC in cannabis plants is concentrated in the marijuana, all parts of the plant, including hemp, can contain THC, a Schedule I controlled substance. The Administration will continue looking for innovative ways to support farmers across the country while balancing the need to protect public health and safety.”

A white paper published by the North American Industrial Hemp Council counters: “The THC levels in industrial hemp are so low that no one could get high from smoking it. Moreover, hemp contains a relatively high percentage of another cannabinoid, CBD, that actually blocks the marijuana high. Hemp, it turns out, not only (isn’t) marijuana; it could be called ‘anti-marijuana.’”

In recent years, lawmakers in several states — including North Dakota, Montana, and Vermont — have enacted legislation seeking to allow state-licensed farmers the opportunity to grow hemp crops. However, according to the CRS, “The US Drug Enforcement Administration has been unwilling to grant licenses for growing small plots of hemp for research purposes,” even when such research is authorized by state law, because the agency believes that doing so would “send the wrong message to the American public concerning the government’s position on drugs.”

In 2007, 2009, and again in 2011, federal lawmakers have introduced in Congress, “The Industrial Hemp Farming Act,” to exclude low potency varieties of cannabis from federal prohibition. If approved, this measure would grant state legislatures the authority to license and regulate the commercial production of hemp as an industrial and agricultural commodity. The present version of this Act, House Bill 1831, has 33 co-sponsors, but has yet to receive a Congressional hearing. The measure is before the US House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

During World War II, the US Department of Agriculture actively promoted the domestic cultivation of hemp during a campaign known as “Hemp for Victory.” For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or visit:

Ag Commission Johnson says Drug Enforcement Agency “cordial,” but cautioned about fed law complications

Grand Forks, North Dakota — North Dakota and three other states made their case today with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to allow the cultivation of industrial hemp, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson and counterparts from West Virginia, Massachusetts and Wisconsin met with several DEA officials.

In a news release, Johnson said his department is drafting new rules to control the production of industrial hemp, and that he wanted to solicit input from DEA. The new rules would implement state laws, passed by the Legislature in 1999 through 2005.

DEA officials were “very cordial” but cautioned that the process of legalizing industrial hemp production would be extremely complicated under existing federal law, Johnson said in a statement.

“DEA has never responded to our earlier inquiries,” Johnson said, “but today, we were able to present our case and learn from them what may be required in terms of regulations and safeguards.”

According to the state Department of Agriculture, industrial hemp (cannabis sativa) is widely grown around the world and is used in the manufacture of textiles, papers and rope. Its seed is also used for food and feed. Oil derived from the plant is used in cosmetics, paints and medicinal compounds. The industrial form of hemp contains only trace amounts of the psychoactive drug delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in marijuana, although DEA currently does not recognize industrial hemp apart from marijuana.

The United States is alone among industrialized countries in banning cultivation of industrial hemp, Johnson said, adding that Canada lifted their band in 1998.

He said industrial hemp could do well in North Dakota as a valuable rotational crop and another income source.

Industrial hemp has long been a lucrative crop for farmers in Canada, Europe, and Asia, and governments in many countries have encouraged research into its development. In April, for instance, the Government of Canada’s Scientific Research and Experimental Development Program awarded Hempton Clothing, Inc., the world’s largest hemp T-shirt apparel brand, a $223,118 grant in recognition of the company’s work in developing environmentally friendly fabrics and garments in 2002 and 2003.

This is one of many such grants the Canadian government has made available for hemp research.

In the United States, however, the forces of drug prohibition have long associated hemp with marijuana, and the U.S. government has blocked its use. Yet, hemp and marijuana come from different varieties of the cannabis plant, and low THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) varieties of cannabis are cultivated for non-drug uses, such as soap, paper, food, and even high tech bio composites used in automobiles. THC is an active ingredient found in hemp, marijuana, and hashish.

“There are millions of cars on the road with hemp door panels, tens of millions of dollars spent annually on hemp food and hemp body care, and hemp paper is being made in the U.S.,” said Alexis Baden-Mayer, director of government relations for Vote Hemp, a Washington, DC, nonprofit dedicated to the acceptance of industrial hemp. ”So people are asking tough questions about why the U.S. government won’t distinguish low THC hemp from high THC drug varieties.”

But it looks like this state of affairs is about to change. Hemp industry spokesmen are optimistic that hemp farming is about to make a comeback almost 50 years after federal law prevented U.S. farmers from growing the crop. The end of its three-year battle with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and recent pro-hemp, state sponsored initiatives are the two big reasons for the hemp industry’s optimism.

The hemp industry’s battle with the U.S. government ended in February when the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered the DEA to pay $21,265 in legal expenses to Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. The Escondido, CA-based company, which has used hemp oil in its soap products since 1998, largely financed the Hemp Industries Association’s fight to overturn DEA efforts to ban the sale of foods containing hemp products. The association is a trade group of hemp businesses that represents the interests of the hemp industry and works to encourage research and development of new hemp products.

Earlier, the 9th Circuit ruled that the DEA had ignored Congress’s exemption to the Controlled Substance Act, which specifically exempts hemp seed, fiber, and oil from government regulation, and agreed with the association that hemp seed contained just minor traces of THC, much like poppy seed contains insignificant amounts of opiates. In regulating the manufacture and distribution of controlled substances, the Controlled Substance Act provides the legal foundation for the U.S. government’s war on drugs. Then, on July 2, 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied the DEA’s petition for a re-hearing of the case. The DEA had the option of appealing the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the allotted time for an appeal expired on September 28, 2004.

“Nobody has ever been able to block the DEA in court from interpreting the law the way it wanted,” said Adam Eidinger, Vote Hemp’s communications director. “The court decision was 3 to 0, and even the Reagan appointee on the court agreed with us. It was a reality check for the DEA.”

David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, added, “It’s a sweet victory and certainly an embarrassment to the DEA. It proves that the DEA’s attempt to ban hemp never had any legal merit.”

In making its case to ban hemp, the DEA claimed that the use of hemp products could cause a false positive reading of drug tests. Hemp activists maintain that companies in the hemp industry voluntarily observe reasonable THC limits similar to those observed by hemp businesses in Canada and European countries, and that these limits protect consumers with a wide margin of safety from workplace drug testing interference.

Manufacturers of hemp nut and oil products in North America also participate in a TestPledge program, hemp activists pointed out. Manufacturers pledge to hold the THC in hemp nut and oil below levels that makes failing a drug test extremely unlikely, even when a person consumes large amounts of those products on a daily basis.

As for personal care products made with hemp seed oil, Eidinger said, “In recent years, a handful of people have alleged that they failed workplace drug tests because of using hemp oil products on the skin. Such allegations were routinely proven false, and there has yet to be a case in which someone was excused [from work] due to the use of hemp oil personal care products.”

As the hemp industry savors its court victory, it is making gains in the legislative arena. This year, several state legislatures are considering hemp legislation that would allow farmers to grow industrial hemp. Five states (Hawaii, Kentucky, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia) allow for hemp farming on a commercial or research basis, but hemp can’t be legally grown in the United States without a permit from the DEA. According to Vote Hemp, the agency has allowed only an experimental plot in Hawaii.

In California, Assemblyman Mark Leno introduced a bill that would allow the California State Department of Food and Agriculture to issue licenses to grow and process hemp. Companies that sell hemp products must now contract with Canadian farmers for their hemp. Nutiva, a California-based organic food company, estimates that it would save more than $100,000 in transportation and related costs if it could buy hemp seeds from California growers and process them at a plant the company plans to build in California.

“We pay Exxon and Chevron a lot of gasoline for truckers,” John Roulac, Nutiva’s president and founder, told the Sacramento Union newspaper. “We’d rather pay that money to California farmers to grow a sustainable crop.”

Leno’s bill bans anyone with a criminal conviction from getting a license to process or grow hemp and requires that the hemp be tested in the fields so as to ensure that the THC levels don’t exceed the prescribed limits. A hearing of the bill before the Senate Environment and Wildlife Committee was scheduled for April 19.

The California initiative is similar to other bills introduced in North Dakota, New Hampshire, and Oregon.

  • In North Dakota, House Bill 1492 passed Feb. 16 by a vote of 87 to 3; a similar bill passed in the Senate on March 1 by 46 to 0, and is awaiting the governor’s action. In 1999, North Dakota became the first state to pass hemp farming legislation, but it hasn’t challenged the DEA’s authority in the courts. The proposal allows North Dakota State University to begin storing “feral seed hemp” in anticipation of the day the growing of industrial hemp becomes legal.
  • The bill in Oregon allows the State Department of Agriculture to administer a licensing, permitting, and implementation program for growers and handlers of hemp. On April 6, the state Senate Environment and Land Committee took testimony.
  • The New Hampshire proposal requires qualifying farmers with no criminal convictions to plant at least five acres of hemp annually. A bill passed the New Hampshire House on March 23 by a margin of 199 to 68, and has moved to the Senate for consideration.
  • Vote Hemp is currently working with Congressman Ron Paul, R-TX, to introduce the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which aims to distinguish hemp from marijuana and legalize the former for U.S. farmers to grow.

Hemp advocates say these legislative initiatives make them excited about their industry’s future. “We want American farmers to have the opportunity to grow industrial hemp without being harassed by the DEA,” Eidinger said.

About the author

Ron Chepesiuk is a Rock Hill, SC based freelance writer and Fulbright scholar. His latest book, Drug Lords: The Rise and Fall of the Cali Cartel (Milo Books), will be published in May.

Copyright © 2005, Vermont Guardian. All rights reserved.

Washington, DC — The United States is the only developed nation that does not cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop, according to a Congressional Resource Service report.

“In all, more than 30 countries in Europe, Asia and North America grow hemp,” concluded the report, “Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity.” In the 1990s, the European Union instituted a subsidy program for hemp fiber production. “The United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop,” the report says.

Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only minute amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Farmers worldwide grow hemp commercially for fiber, seed, and oil for use in a variety of industrial and consumer products, including food.

U.S. law makes no distinction between cannabis and industrial hemp, and makes it illegal to grow hemp without a license from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to the CRS, “The DEA has been unwilling to grant licenses for growing small plots of hemp for research purposes,” even when the research is authorized by state law, because the agency believes that this would “send the wrong message to the American public concerning the government’s position on drugs.”

As an example, the report noted that the DEA “has still not ruled on an application submitted in 1999 by a North Dakota researcher” to grow a trial plot of hemp in compliance with state law.

More than a dozen states have passed laws authorizing the licensed cultivation of hemp for research purposes.

“The federal ban on hemp cultivation and production is a direct outgrowth of the government’s absurd war on cannabis,” said NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre. “This report should help to galvanize support among U.S. farmers, industrialists, and environmentalists for the legalization and regulation of hemp as an agricultural commodity.”

Copyright © 2005, Vermont Guardian. All rights reserved.

Washington, DC — 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 occurring 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 THC.”

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 in marijuana.

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.

Copyright © 2004, Environment News Service. All rights reserved.

Change in legal status could allow proliferation of U.S. products

San Diego, California — ‘There’s hemp oil in this? You’re kidding! I’ve been buying this soap for years and never realized that,” Tamra Miller said.

She was at the Ocean Beach People’s Organic Food Market examining the label of a gallon jug of “Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Pure Castile Soap.” A key ingredient is hemp oil made from the first cousin of the marijuana plant.

“I buy it for the kids at my daughter’s school. Maybe they’re just a little bit happier washing their hands with this stuff,” Miller said with a smile.

Hemp is the highly versatile member of the cannabis-plant family that doesn’t get you high. It remains a four-letter word as far as the federal government’s war on drugs is concerned.

But hemp’s legal status in the United States has quietly undergone a dramatic change.

Without comment, much less fanfare, the Drug Enforcement Administration last month let pass a deadline to appeal its case for banning consumable hemp products to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A three-year effort to get hemp seed, hemp oil, lip balm, cereals, breads, frozen waffles and other consumable products made from imported hemp removed from America’s markets ended when the government quit pursuing its ban.

Hemp advocates, including hundreds of niche business and agricultural backers in more than a dozen states, note the plant is water efficient, soil-enriching, pest-resistant and a remarkably useful source of products from essential fatty acids in hemp oil to textiles and building products.

Consumable hemp products contain trace amounts of THC, the psycho-active property in marijuana. That’s why the DEA in October 2001 proposed to ban such products, which are imported from Canada and nations in Europe and Asia where cultivation and production of “industrial hemp” is legal even though marijuana remains outlawed.

But the Hemp Industries Association — 250 U.S. companies offering products like protein bars, milk-free cheese, granola, bulk shelled hemp seed, hemp oil and veggie burgers with trace amounts of THC from non-psycho-active cannabis plants — challenged the ban.

The hempsters relied on the argument that the non-narcotic variety of poppy seeds contains trace amounts of opiates, yet are widely consumed and perfectly legal.

As with poppy seeds, advocates argued, there’s not enough THC present to get consumers high if they ate a truckload of hemp-based products. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco agreed, blocking the DEA’s proposed ban.

A Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman referred inquiries to the Department of Justice, which did not return phone messages seeking comment. The DEA argued in court that any product containing THC should be considered a controlled substance and prohibited under U.S. drug laws.

“All the facts were on our side — industrial hemp has never been psychoactive,” said David Bronner, whose Escondido-based Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps donated $200,000 to the fight against the DEA’s ban.

“But the market really suffered. There was a grace period before the DEA’s ban was to go into effect (in March 2002), and retailers everywhere were pulling their products because of this cloud in the marketplace, with potential product recalls and DEA busts looming.”

As the grace period was about to expire last year, the 9th Circuit court issued a stay, temporarily blocking the DEA ban and placing the hemp industry into limbo.

“We were within two days from having to pull our (10 lines) of hemp products,” said Nancy Casady, general manager of the Ocean Beach People’s Market. “It took a lot of money and effort to get the government to finally realize we are talking about something quite different from marijuana.”

Though hemp advocates are cheering the end of the ban, they bemoan the fact that the hemp-products industry in the United States has fallen far behind Canada and the European Union.

“Canada provides the best example of what we expect to see the in U.S.,” said Bronner. “They haven’t had government harassment up there for the past five years, and hemp products have crossed over into the mainstream.”

Casady sees great days ahead for hemp retailers.

“I predict a big boom in the use of hemp oil and hemp seeds,” she said. “Hemp is impervious to pests and doesn’t require harmful pesticides. It can grow just about anywhere. It’s good for the soil and incredibly useful.

“Hemp is really a miracle plant when you learn about it.”

Cannabis sativa, Latin for “the useful hemp,” is synonymous with the mind-altering drug marijuana. But throughout history, the cannabis plant has been far more useful than as a means to get stoned.

Recent arguments for the medical benefits of THC-laden marijuana aside, the hemp plant has for thousands of years provided fiber for everything from rope to textiles, paper to building supplies, in addition to foodstuffs.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were hemp farmers.

In 1937, as synthetic fibers were taking over the textile industry and use of hemp declined, the government passed the Marihuana Tax Act, outlawing cultivation of the psychoactive form of cannabis.

Industrial hemp was excluded from the act, however, and cultivation of it remained legal. During World War II, the “Hemp for Victory” campaign spurred a surge in hemp farming, and the cannabis fiber was used to make soldiers’ boots, rucksacks and other essentials.

Industrial hemp, known as “ditch weed,” still grows wild throughout the Midwest and other farm states (the government budgets $13 million annually to eradicate it.)

Even hemp backers, who hope to greatly expand the estimated $7-million-a-year industry, acknowledge that the plant cannot supplant every oil, seed and fiber on the market. It is not ideal as a cooking oil, for instance, and oil from flax (which has flavor issues) and other grains may provide more essential fats.

Hemp advocates merely want an even playing field on which to compete with other foodstuffs and fibers, one without the stigma attached to a psychoactive drug.

In 1970, Congress passed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention Act, superseding the 1937 law. It made no provision distinguishing industrial hemp from marijuana, meaning domestic cultivation of all forms of the cannabis sativa plant was illegal.

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s position is that industrial-hemp plants — which are generally taller and have different leaves — are difficult to distinguish from marijuana plants, especially from helicopters and spotter planes.

The government contends a hemp farmer could easily mix marijuana into his hemp field (though it would not be wise because cross-pollinating hemp plants would weaken the pot plants’ potency).

“At first blush, the government’s argument seems reasonable,” said Alexis Baden-Meyer, spokeswoman for Vote Hemp, the lobbying arm of the hemp industry. “It would be a big problem for law enforcement if it had to prove every time that the ‘leafy substance’ confiscated was pot, and not legally grown industrial hemp.

“But the way Canada and other nations do it is to test the plants on the farm. The bill we’re proposing would allow hemp to be grown only by licensed farmers using certified seed. State and federal officials could go to the farm and test at any time. It works in Europe, in Australia and New Zealand, and throughout Asia where industrial hemp is grown.”

Albert Lewis, owner of Descanso-based Hempy’s, makes pants, shirts, backpacks, wallets and hats from hemp-based textiles he imports from China and Romania.

He said industrial hemp grown domestically would significantly lower his costs — and the price of his products — while providing a viable, environmentally friendly industry and American jobs.

“The DEA’s decision to drop its ban is an important symbolic victory,” Lewis said. “The Administration talks about freedom, opportunity, ingenuity and free enterprise. Here’s an industry that fits all those categories, and yet there was a strong effort to stamp it out.

“Dropping the ban is a victory for freedom, the American spirit and American values.”

David Bronner and other advocates of consumable hemp products note that hemp oil is an excellent alternative source of omega-3s — the essential fatty acids found in fish oils — for those concerned about mercury and other toxins in fish.

Adding omega-3s to the diet “seems to lower the risk of heart attacks because omega-3 fatty acids reduce the clotting tendency of the blood and improve cholesterol profiles,” according to Dr. Andrew Weil, the natural-foods booster and best-selling author.

“They also have a natural anti-inflammatory effect that makes them useful for people with arthritis and autoimmune disorders.”

Eyeing a bottle of hemp oil at the Ocean Beach People’s Market, Jan Hall said she learned about the benefits of hemp from her granddaughter, Camille Berry, a freshman majoring in biochemistry at UCSD.

“She’s kind of a little hippie, like we all used to be in the ’60s,” Hall said, smiling. “She’s told me about all sorts of uses for hemp — everything from powering a diesel engine to moisturizing creams — and she has caused me to think it is a really good substance.

“It was banned for some sort of connection to the drug culture. It seems to me that’s kind of a shame.”

Copyright © 2004, Union-Tribune Publishing Co. All rights reserved.

San Francisco, California — Three years after the Bush administration tried to ban food products made with hemp, the government surrendered that front in the war on drugs, attorneys for the hemp industry said.

The Justice Department, these attorneys say, will not challenge a federal appeals court ruling that overturned the ban — a victory for more than 200 companies that make such things as energy bars, waffles, milk-free cheese and veggie burgers with the plant that contains only trace amounts of THC, the key ingredient in marijuana.

Monday night was the deadline for the government to challenge a federal appellate court’s February decision to the Supreme Court that the United States cannot ban the domestic sale of hemp foods.

Patrick Goggin, a San Francisco lawyer representing the Hemp Industries Association, said the government had informed the group’s legal team that it would let Monday’s deadline to appeal expire.

“I think they’re choosing their battles. They don’t see this as a battle they can win,” Goggin said.

Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller declined comment.

The San Francisco-based appeals court said that although the Drug Enforcement Administration has regulatory authority over marijuana and synthetically derived tetrahydrocannobinol, or THC, the agency did not have the authority to ban foods derived from hemp. The court said it was not possible to get high from products with only trace amounts of the mind-altering chemical.

“They cannot regulate naturally-occuring THC not contained within or derived from marijuana,” the appeals court ruled.

Hemp is an industrial plant related to marijuana. Fiber from the plant long has been used to make paper, clothing, rope and other products. Its oil is found in body care products such as lotion, soap and cosmetics.

Three years ago, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put the law on hold, allowing the industry to continue selling its hemp food products with hemp produced in Canada and overseas while the legal battle continued.

The trade group Vote Hemp said it would begin lobbying Congress to allow industrial hemp production in the United States, said Alexis Baden-Mayer, the group’s government affairs director. “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,” he said.

David Bronner, president of Escondido-based Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, which makes hemp products, including an energy bar, said he spent $200,000 funding the legal tussle over the ban.

“This was a complete waste of money,” he said. “Finally, I think we’re gonna have some explosive growth. Everyone was kinda waiting for the legal climate to clear up.”

In October 2001, the DEA first declared that food products containing even trace amounts of THC would be banned under the Controlled Substances Act. The DEA ordered a halt to the production and distribution of all goods containing THC that were intended for human consumption.

But in March 2002, just before those products were to be pulled from shelves, the 9th Circuit suspended that order to allow it to decide whether federal law could classify hemp food as an illegal controlled substance like heroin.

In April 2002, DEA attorney Daniel Dormont argued for the ban, telling the appeals court here that “there’s no way of knowing” whether some food made with hemp could get consumers high.

Hemp food sellers say their products are full of nutrition, not drugs. They say the food contains such a small amount of the active ingredient in marijuana that it’s impossible to feel any drug-like effects.

The case is Hemp Industries Association v. Drug Enforcement Administration, 03-71366.

Copyright © 2004, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

No sooner did the Bush administration decide in recent days not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a unanimous 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling of February that hemp foods should be legal for sale and consumption, than manufacturers began lining up to peddle hemp products at this week’s food expo at the Washington Convention Center.

The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) says there is now no question that it has won its three-year case against the Drug Enforcement Administration, which sought to ban hempseed and hemp seed oil foods. The court basically ruled that hemp seeds were as safe for human consumption as poppy seeds.

In fact, HIA Executive Director Candi Penn says Americans looking for healthy alternative sources of omega-3 because of trace mercury in fish and fish-oil supplements can find it in hemp food. The big question now is whether U.S. farmers will be allowed to start growing hemp for industrial purposes.

Alexis Baden-Mayer, director of government affairs for Vote Hemp, says the U.S. marketplace is currently supplied by hemp seed grown and processed in Canada and Europe.

“We will now work to convince Congress it is time for the U.S. to again allow American farmers to grow industrial hemp and participate in this lucrative growth market,” she says.

Copyright © 2004, The Washington Times. All rights reserved.

Legal Limbo Over; Marketplace Wide Open

Hemp Industries Association

Hemp Industries Association

Washington, DC — Manufacturers of nutritious hemp foods will exhibit a wide variety of products at the Natural Products Expo East at the Washington Convention Center, October 14-17. These companies are thrilled that the Bush Administration did not appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court by the September 28 deadline the Ninth Circuit’s unanimous February 6 ruling that hemp foods are perfectly legal for sale and consumption in the U.S. The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) won the 3-year HIA v. DEA case, invalidating once and for all the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) misguided attempt to ban nutritious and safe hemp seed and oil foods.

“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 (Expo East Booth #3906). “This is a huge victory for the hemp industry. The Bush Administration decision not to appeal the Ninth Circuit’s decision from earlier this year means the three-year-old legal battle over hemp seed products is finally over. The three-judge panel in the Ninth Circuit unanimously ruled that the DEA ignored the specific Congressional exemption in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) that excludes hemp fiber, seed and oil from control along with poppy seeds. The Court viewed as insignificant and irrelevant harmless trace amounts of THC in hemp seed, just like harmless trace amounts of opiates in poppy seeds.”

“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,” says Candi Penn, Executive Director of the HIA. Alexis Baden-Mayer, Director of Government Affairs for Vote Hemp. adds: “Right now the U.S. marketplace is supplied by hemp seed grown and processed in Canada and Europe. We will now work to convince Congress it is time for the U.S. to again allow American farmers to grow industrial hemp and participate in this lucrative growth market.”

Hemp Food Companies Attending Expo East React to Final Victory

Members of the Media Welcome to Visit

Nature’s Path Foods, Booth #1917: “We are very excited that our best-selling Organic Hemp Plus Granola Cereal® and our LifeStream Natural Hemp Plus Waffles® will continue to be available in thousands of stores nationwide,” says Arran Stephens, President and Founder.

French Meadow Bakery, Booth #901: “DEA was foolish to try to ban hemp seed because it is a rich source of protein, dietary fiber, minerals, iron, vitamin E, and a near perfect composition of essential fatty acids — Omega 3 and 6,” says Lynn Gordon, President. “We expect sales of our Healthy Hemp Bread® to increase enormously as a result of the court ruling.”

Nutiva, Booth #2642: “Nutiva’s organic hemp protein powder, bars, seeds, and oil can now be sold without concern over its legality,” says Founder/CEO John W. Roulac.

Living Harvest, Booth #3139: “Vegetarians everywhere should celebrate this court ruling,” says Les Szabo, co-founder. “People have a right to eat our nutritious Hemp Power Bar, Hemp Protein, Hemp Oil and Hemp Seed Nut.”

Manitoba Harvest, Booth #1150: “The decision will boost tremendously demand for our brand of Oil, Nut, Nut Butter and Protein Powder as well as our bulk and private label service”, says Mike Fata, North American Sales Manager.

Also, at the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA), Booth #530, Ruth’s Hemp Foods, Hemp Oil Canada and Hemp Sisters will be exhibiting a diverse array of hemp food products. “Canadian farmers and processors are gearing up for the exploding U.S. demand for hemp seed and oil,” says Arthur Hanks, Executive Director of the CHTA.

Hemp Food Was Victim of Drug War Hysteria

Fighting the DEA ban cost leading hemp companies roughly $200,000. Documents uncovered through the Freedom of Information Act show that attorneys at the Department of Justice as far back as March 2000 knew they lacked the authority to ban hemp food products. Patrick Goggin, an attorney for the HIA, stated: “The damages this egregious policy havecaused are widespread to say the least. The industryis fully considering its options forrecovering these damages and the cost of defending against this underhanded governmental action.”

DEA Admitted Hemp Food Does Not Pose Any Harm, Leading Nutritionist Agrees

During final arguments, the DEA acknowledged that hemp foods have no abuse potential, stating “The concern of the Drug Enforcement Administration isn’t particularized to the particular products that these Petitioners make. The DEA has never said, has never focused on the particular products and said anyone can get high from them, or that they pose a harm to people.” According to Nutritionist and best selling author Dr. Andrew Weil, “There is absolutely no health concern about trace amounts of THC in Hemp foods. I think the federal court decision is great.”

Public Outrage Against DEA Hemp Food Ban

In regard to widespread outrage over the DEA’s “Final Rule” — 115,000 public comments, a letter from the Canadian government, and a letter from Congress co-signed by 22 Representatives were submitted to DEA opposed to the hemp food ban. Protests were organized by Vote Hemp against DEA’s attempts to ban hemp foods. In December 2001 and again in April 2003, at more than 50 DEA offices nationwide, activists gave away hemp foods; poppy seed bagels and orange juice that contain trace THC, opiates and alcohol respectively to highlight the absurdity of DEA’s rules. These “Hemp Food Taste Tests” generated public outrage and forced former DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson to debate Vote Hemp Director Eric Steenstra on National Public Radio.

Hemp Foods are Safe and Nutritious — DEA Rules Were Ridiculous!

Hemp seed is one of the most perfect sources for human nutrition in all of nature. In addition to its excellent flavor profile, the seed meat protein supplies all essential amino acids in an easily digestible form and with a high protein efficiency ratio. Hemp seed oil offers high concentrations of the two essential fatty acids (EFAs) in a perfect ratio of the omega-3/omega-6 acids. EFA’s are the “good fats” that doctors recommend as part of a healthy, balanced diet. This superior nutritional profile makes shelled hempseed and oil ideal for a wide range of functional food applications and as an effective fatty acid supplement. Not surprisingly, shelled hempseed and oil are increasingly used in natural food products, such as bread, nutrition bars, hummus, nondairy milks, meatless burgers and cereals.

Eating Hemp Food Does Not Cause Failed Drug Tests

U.S. hemp food companies voluntarily observe reasonable THC limits similar to those adopted by European nations as well as Canada and Australia. These limits protect consumers with a wide margin of safety from workplace drug-testing interference (see hemp industry standards regarding trace THC at The DEA has hypocritically not targeted food manufacturers for using poppy seeds (in bagels and muffins, for example) even though they contain far higher levels of trace opiates. The recently revived global hemp market is a thriving commercial success. Unfortunately, because the DEA’s Drug War paranoia has confused non-psychoactive industrial hemp varieties of cannabis with psychoactive “marihuana” varieties, the U.S. is the only major industrialized nation to prohibit the growing of industrial hemp.

Copyright © 2004, Hemp Industries Association. All rights reserved.