Weed Watch: Oh, All Right, Eat the Hemp

Feds give up three-year effort to ban foods with hemp seeds and oil

After years of legal wrangling and posturing, the feds have finally given up their quest to ban food products containing hemp seeds and oils. On Sept. 28, the Hemp Industries Association claimed victory after the feds declined to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals protecting the sale of hemp-containing foods. "This is a huge victory of the hemp industry," said David Bronner, chair of the HIA's food and oil committee and president of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. "The Bush administrations decision not to appeal ... means the three-year-old legal battle over hemp seed products is finally over."

In 2001, the Drug Enforcement Administration declared that hemp food products were subject to federal regulation under the Controlled Substances Act because they contain trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The feds were disabused of their zany notion by the 9th Circuit, which granted the HIA a permanent injunction, squashing the government's plans to clear store shelves of the offending products. The feds threatened to appeal to the Supremes, but decided last week to avoid further meddling. Eric Steenstra, executive director of Vote Hemp – a nonprofit that aims to expand the hemp market – told the Drug Reform Coordination Network the feds' action was a big waste of time and money. "The industry should have been focused on marketplace promotion and consumer education rather than flushing over $200,000 down the drain battling pointless DEA hysteria," he said.

In other news: Drug policy reformers gained a new and unexpected ally last week when bow-tied conservative talking head Tucker Carlson (of CNN's Crossfire and PBS's Unfiltered) made a satellite drop-in on Bill Maher's HBO series Real Time. In response to a "hypothetical" question from Maher on whether a president caught using drugs should face the same fate – that is, incarceration – as other drug users, Carlson was incredulous. "No!" he told Maher. "Look, if a responsible person who is not bothering anyone uses drugs you should leave them alone."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Hemp Industries Association, HIA, David Bronner, Eric Steenstra, Vote Hemp, DRCNet, Weed Watch, hemp food, DEA, Tucker Carlson

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