For Immediate Release
January 31, 2002
Contact Adam Eidinger / Mintwood
Media at (202) 986-6186
DEA HEAD CLARIFIES NEW RULE ON HEMP
Asa Hutchinson Says Final Rule Has Not Been
WASHINGTON, DC — Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA) head Asa Hutchinson
appeared on the National Public Radio program Public
Interest this week with Vote Hemp President Eric
Steenstra to discuss the DEA's new "Interpretive
Rule" which bans safe and nutritious hemp foods
containing "any THC." The DEA issued this
rule despite the fact that the trace infinitesimal THC
present in Congressionally-exempted hemp seed and oil
is thousands of times below the psychoactive threshold
and poses no threat to drug-testing programs under the
hemp industry's TestPledge program (see http://www.TestPledge.com).
Mr. Hutchinson's appearance was the first
time he has publicly defended the controversial new
rule that has spawned protests at DEA offices in 76
cities, a high-profile legal confrontation with the
hemp industry, a $20 million NAFTA lawsuit, and criticism
from thousands of hemp food consumers. To read more
about the "Interpretive Rule" issued on October
9, 2001 and other related documents, please visit http://www.VoteHemp.com/legal_cases_DEA.html.
Mr. Hutchinson clarified for the first
time that the new rule is not necessarily final and
could be changed following a complete review of the
public comments. "The Interpretive Rule puts the
public and companies on notice as to how we're going
to apply and interpret the law... But we seek comments
on it and we are obliged and should consider these comments,
and after we evaluate those comments we can issue a
Final Rule that will discuss the comments from the public,
make any adjustments that are reasonably justified and
necessary, and then that Final Rule will be implemented,"
said Mr. Hutchinson. When asked if the rule has been
"promulgated" yet, the DEA Administrator said
"We're pleased that the DEA appears
to be backpedaling from enforcing their rule, but they
are misinterpreting the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)
period, which clearly exempts sterilized hemp seed and
oil. We will not stop our grassroots, legal and legislative
efforts to ensure nutritious hemp foods remain on over
10,000 store shelves until this rule is invalidated
and set aside by either the Court, Congress or the DEA
itself," said Mr. Steenstra.
Despite explicit language in the CSA that
exempts hemp seed and oil from the DEA's control under
the statutory definition of marijuana (exactly like
the exemption for poppy seeds under the statutory definition
of opium poppy), Mr. Hutchinson continues to wildly
misinterpret the law. "There is no such exemption
for any part of the Cannabis plant that contains THC.
We are bound by the law," said Hutchinson.
"I don't know what law he is reading;
he is simply wrong," says Steenstra. "The
DEA doesn't want to admit that in the exact same section
as the poppy seed exemption there is an exemption for
hemp seeds and oil. This duplicity leaves hemp companies
no choice but to look to the courts to invalidate the
During the program, Mr. Hutchinson admitted,
"We have received thousands and thousands of comments
on this ... clearly the public and the industry has
submitted their comments and (they) will be considered
before any Final Rule is adopted." After receiving
numerous hostile calls from listeners, Hutchinson said
"At the DEA, we certainly are not against the hemp
industry. We're against THC which is what we are concerned
about under the law."
Steenstra, clearly frustrated, repeatedly
pointed out to Hutchinson that the THC defined in the
CSA is defined as synthetic THC only, and has nothing
to do with the infinitesimal trace natural THC present
in the exempted hemp seed and oil. Hutchinson had no
explanation for why the DEA is not similarly trying
to override the poppy seed exemption because of its
trace opiate content, even though the separate definition
in the CSA for opiates, unlike THC, refers to natural
as well as synthetic.
Listen to the show by visiting http://www.wamu.org/pi/index.html.
The show is listed under Wednesday, January 30th, 2002.
Visit www.VoteHemp.com to read court
documents and numerous scientific
studies concerning hemp foods.
For more information, or to arrange interviews
with representatives of the hemp industry, please call
Adam Eidinger at 202-986-6186 or 202-744-2671 (cell).