Naked City

Naked City

A Taste of Hemp

Earlier this month, the Hemp Industries Association asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California to eliminate the Drug Enforcement Administration's Oct. 2001 "interpretive rule," which effectively creates a new ban on hemp oil and hemp-seed food products.

The new DEA rule asserts that because hemp food products contain trace amounts of tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, they are illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Hemp advocates and hemp product producers immediately cried foul; the DEA effort, they charge, is a bow to the drug-testing industry, which has whined loudly over the past decade that standard drug tests cannot determine whether trace amounts of THC come from smoking dope or eating food products made from industrial hemp -- highly regarded by nutritionists as a source of protein and essential fatty acids. The drug testing industry "believes that this would then raise the constitutional objections to their drug tests," said David Bronner of Dr. Bronner's Soap, who is also the chairman of the HIA's food and oil committee.

In its court brief, the HIA charges that the DEA misinterpreted existing law that excludes industrial hemp seed and oil products from enforcement under the CSA. "[The] DEA contends that the congressional exemption of hemp seed and oil from the definition of 'marihuana' was based on the mistaken assumption that the excluded portions of the marijuana plant did not contain THC," they wrote in their brief. "In fact, the relevant legislative history clearly demonstrates that the 1937 Congress that enacted this exemption was well aware that hemp seed and oil contain trace amounts of resin with [THC], but that Congress was nevertheless convinced that such amounts are not sufficient to be harmful." The DEA has one month to file their brief with the appellate court, with each side's oral arguments to follow.

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