Naked City

Please Do Eat the Hemp!

Naked City

Bring out the hemp-seed burgers and crack open a bottle of hemp oil: After battling the Drug Enforcement Administration for more than two years, hemp-food makers claimed victory last week after a federal court ruled that the federal government may not ban the sale or possession of foods containing trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

On Feb. 6, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that, in accordance with the Controlled Substances Act, the DEA can enforce only those rules and regulations that ban actual marijuana or manufactured THC. But the agency has no authority to ban products containing only trace amounts of the substance, the judges ruled. "The DEA has no authority to regulate drugs that are not scheduled, and it has not followed procedures required to schedule a substance," the court ruled. "The DEA's definition of 'THC' contravenes the unambiguously expressed intent of Congress in the CSA and cannot be upheld."

The news was a relief to hemp-food makers, who said that the court's ruling will likely open the door for more hemp-related products. "The decision ... is a huge boost to the hemp-food market," said David Bronner, founder of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, maker of the Alpsnack hemp nutrition bar and chairman of the Hemp Food Industries Food and Oil Committee, which brought suit against the DEA on behalf of 200 hemp companies. The ruling means that the court "reasonably views trace insignificant amounts of THC in hemp seed in the same way ... it sees trace amounts of opiates in poppy seeds," Bronner said in a press release. (For more on the hemp-seed fight, see "Please Don't Eat the Hemp," April 11, 2003.)

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Weed Watch, Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA, Hemp Industries Association, hemp food, U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

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