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Hemp’s Last Hurrah

Contacted on Monday, Bonnie McDonald, the nutrition and body care coordinator at the downtown Santa Cruz New Leaf Market, had not yet heard about the final rule. “At this moment in time, New Leaf Markets will continue selling the product unless we’re told by the government not to sell it,” she says. “My gut feeling is they’ll do another stay, but you never know.”
Hemp’s Last Hurrah

www.gdtimes.com/pages/news.htm

Hemp advocates appeal to the courts in a last-ditch effort to block DEA ban on hemp foods

by Laurel Chesky
04/10/03

Last month, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency released its final ruling banning hemp foods, reiterating its previous determination that food products containing even trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive drug found in marijuana, are illegal. A second ruling exempts body care products, such as soap and shampoo. However, if the DEA chooses to bust hemp oil importers, that industry could dry up as well. The rule does not outlaw the use of hemp fiber and textiles.
Hemp advocates have petitioned the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to intervene. If it does not, the DEA’s rule goes into effect April 21.
Like many legal battles, the fight to keep products made with hemp on store shelves has taken a convoluted route. For three decades, the DEA ignored the commercial use of hemp, which is imported legally from other countries where it is grown lawfully, such as Canada. The cultivation of hemp in the U.S. is illegal.
But starting in the late 1990s, when the use of hemp began to proliferate in products such as Nature’s Path Organic Hemp Plus Granola and Humboldt Brewing Company’s Hemp Ale, the DEA took notice. In October, 2001, the DEA delivered an “interpretive rule” deeming that the 1970 Controlled Substance Act outlaws foods containing any amount of THCas do most foods made from hemp seed and oil, which is extracted from marijuana plants.
Advocates say the DEA’s new attack on hemp has more to do with politics than with miniscule amounts of THC. “It’s funny [that] only after the industry started growing [the DEA] stepped in,” says Adam Eidinger, spokesman for the Washington D.C.-based VoteHemp.org. “They hadn’t stepped in in 30 years. They don’t want the industry to prosper because they see it as a counterculture thing. I think it’s a cultural war.
“People who eat hemp food tend to be liberal,” he continues. “They tend to be Democrats and Green Party. It’s a drug war out of control.”
But Will Glaspy, a DEA spokesman in Washington D.C., says manufacturers of hemp foods “weren’t familiar with federal law” when they opened for business. “That’s the reason the interpretive rule was issued,” he says. “This is not a new law. THC has always been illegal.”
After the DEA released its interpretive rule in 2001, the hemp industry immediately struck back, petitioning the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to intervene. On March 7 of last year, the appeals court issued a stay, blocking the interpretive rule from going into effect.
Hemp advocates, including the Hemp Industries Association and David Bronner, president and chairman of the Escondido-based Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, which started using hemp in its soaps in 1999, are hoping the court will once again issue a stay.
If the court doesn’t side with hemp advocates, it could mean the end of an industry. “If the court doesn’t issue a stay, we’re going to all be out of business,” Bronner says.
Hemp food and body care products have grown into an annual $40-50 billion industry in the U.S. Food manufacturers desire hemp seed and oil because of their taste and nutritional value, hemp contains high concentrations of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Moreover, many companies have wrapped up their marketing and entire commercial identities in the use of hemp.
However, in light of the appeals court’s decision last year and the merits of the DEA’s arguments, Bronner remains confident the court will side with the hemp industry.
The strongest argument hemp advocates have against the DEA ruling comes straight form the Controlled Substance Act itself, which specifically exempts hemp oil and seed products. While it outlaws marijuana, the act says the term marijuana “does not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.”
The DEA argues that congress members did not intend for THC to be ingested. THC is a controlled substance. The rule provides no threshold for an acceptable level of THC, so food with even the tiniest amount of the drug would be illegal.
“We’re saying that if it’s going to enter the human body, and THC is illegal, then all those hemp-based foods are illegal, too,” says Richard Meyer, spokesman for the DEA office in San Francisco.
But hemp advocates say it’s virtually impossible to get high off the trace amounts of THC found in a hemp seed chip. “It’s like trying to get drunk on orange juice or getting high from a poppy seed muffin,” Bronner says.
The DEA also argues that concentrated amounts of THC could be derived from large volumes of hemp oil or seed, similarly to how methamphetamine makers extract ephedrine from over-the-counter drugs. Bronner says it would take 500 gallons of hemp oil to extract one gram of THC. “For all that trouble, you can just go out and get some marijuana,” he says.
Should the DEA final rule go into effect on April 21, how hemp product manufacturers and retailers will react, and how the DEA will enforce the rule, remains to be seen.
“We really anticipate that most people are going to voluntarily abide by the law,” Glaspy says. “I don’t really see that it’s going to be that big of an issue.”
Contacted on Monday, Bonnie McDonald, the nutrition and body care coordinator at the downtown Santa Cruz New Leaf Market, had not yet heard about the final rule. “At this moment in time, New Leaf Markets will continue selling the product unless we’re told by the government not to sell it,” she says. “My gut feeling is they’ll do another stay, but you never know.”
As for Dr. Bronner’s, the company will keep using hemp whether or not it’s deemed illegal by the DEA. Besides continuing continue to use hemp oil in his body care products, Bronner says he has plans to introduce a hemp nut nutrition bar, the proceeds of which he plans to donate to hemp advocacy groups. “We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing,” Bronner says. “I guess we’d be technically practicing civil disobedience.”

 
 


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Comments

silliness ... how will you react to it?

Isn't it silly for the government to ban anything that it cannot prove has any harmful effect on anyone, while allowing many products on the market (e.g., nutrasweet, not to mention any number of over-the-counter drugs), despite well-known dangers to some segments of the population?

Isn't it silly for the federal government to say that its interstate commerce power extends even to production and commerce that happens entirely within a single state?

Isn't it silly for the government -- at least the federal government -- to dictate what grown men and women can and cannot choose to put into their own bodies?

Isn't it silly that a government created to secure the rights of people to make their own decisions about their own lives ("freedom") now rules over the people with an iron fist in silly cases like these?

Isn't it silly that the people don't exercise their power to sweep the most rabid drug war supporters from office and put in their place people with some common sense and respect for the rights of individual citizens to determine their own destiny?

Are you registered to vote? Will you vote in the upcoming elections? Will you be as dedicated to ousting politicians who support the out-of-control war on drugs (and replacing them with people who acknowledge that you are the boss of your own life), as you are to finding out where to get a decent cup of coffee?
 

voting - as usual

> Will you be as dedicated to ousting politicians who
> support the out-of-control war on drugs (and replacing
> them with people who acknowledge that you are the boss of
> your own life), as you are to finding out where to get a
> decent cup of coffee?

I have 4 words for you.

PROP.. TWO... ONE... FIVE.

And three more words for you.

COURT.. APPOINTED.. PRESIDENT.

We're just jumping through hoops like trained circus bears anymore, and at a gut level I think most people know this.

The first step towards dealing with alcoholism, is admitting that you no longer have control, right?

Voting in elections which don't matter, is denial of the present reality. It's a placebo! We have no control over our government anymore!

King George is illegally bombing Iraq, so we should vote Democrat? Clinton bombed Kosovo!

Vote independent? Why, so that in 5 years I can add "The day that Harry Brown bombed Venezula" to the above list? Won't happen? I'm sure you believed that about Clinton too. I did.

Or maybe "The day congress bombed Cuba against the wishes of the White House"?

Or "The day the Office of Homeland Security bombed Columbia after declaring both the White House and Congress suspended"?

How many more crimes must occur before people recognize the trend?

Pull your heads out of the somnabulistic sand of false democracy. The people no longer lead the United States of America, the just fuel the Empire of Washington.

The first step towards dealing with a problem is admitting that you have one. We have a problem - VOTING DOESNT WORK ANYMORE.

If it did, it too would be illegal.

Once your government is out of control, there is no safe, pretty, clean, easy, and polite solution. Liberty, like any wealth, is easy to lose and hard to regain.

-Van
 

free elections in US?

Van makes some interesting points, does he not?

Who is in control here? Perhaps that seems obvious enough, but is there any hope that the people can assert effective control through the system?

If Van had confidence in the electoral system's integrity, would he be so cynical and pessimistic toward our prospects? Or is it that he simply believes consensus can be arbitraily manufactured to suit the powers-that-be, so even voting in a fully honest and reliable system is not worthwhile?

Might it be that the most important politically-oriented jobs in 2004 would be those of elections inspector and pollworker?

What does Van have to say to people like Richard Quigley, who last week said, on KSCO, that anti-war protestors (and I infer, anyone who objects to other government policies) would be more effective to work within the system to achieve worthwhile, lasting change?

Finally, who is Harry Brown and why would he ever bomb Venezuela?
 

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