For Immediate Release
March 7, 2002
Contact Adam Eidinger / Mintwood
Media at (202) 986-6186
DEA Rule on Hemp Food Stirs Congressional
Court Decides to Expedite Entire Case Rather
than Rule on Motion to Stay
Hemp Industry Makes Oral Arguments to Ninth Circuit
on April 8
CAPITOL HILL, WASHINGTON, DC
— In a letter sent to the Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA) today, 22 members of
Congress told the agency that their new "Interpretive
Rule" that bans edible hemp seed or oil items
that contain "any THC" is "overly restrictive."
The letter also urged the DEA to "establish realistic
standards which take into account current testing technologies
and better define trace levels of THC which are permissible
for human use."
Dozens of hemp food manufacturers filed
suit last fall to challenge the DEA's interpretive rule
issued on October 9, 2001. The Controlled Substances
Act (see 21
U.S.C. §802(16)) exempts hemp seed and oil
for human consumption, just like the poppy seed (which
contains trace opiates and is commonly consumed on bagels).
As a result of remarkable public and court pressure
(the DEA received over 115,000 comments in support of
hemp products), the DEA extended the "grace period"
for disposal of THC-containing hemp food products through
March 18, 2002.
Earlier this week, the Court decided not
to rule on whether to Stay the DEA's rule pending ultimate
resolution of the case, but rather to expedite the entire
case in response to hemp companies filing a Motion to
Stay the DEA rule. Attorneys representing the hemp companies
will appear before the Court on April 8, 2002 in San
Francisco to make oral arguments.
"Members of Congress from every state
have heard from upset constituents telling them that
the DEA has misinterpreted the law that exempts highly
nutritious hemp seed and oil from the DEA's control,"
says Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp, a grassroots
organization dedicated to the re-commercialization of
industrial hemp. "Today's letter is evidence that
members of Congress are responding positively to our
grassroots efforts," says Steenstra.
The letter was signed by Representatives
George Miller (D-CA), Ron Paul (R-TX), John Conyers
(D-MI), Connie Morella (R-MD), Martin Sabo (D-MN), Peter
DeFazio (D-OR), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Nick Rahall (D-WV),
Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Pete
Stark (D-CA), Robert Andrews (D-NJ), Sam Farr (D-CA),
Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Barney
Frank (D-MA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Lynn Rivers (D-MI),
William Clay (D-MO), Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Jerrold
Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) sent his own letter to DEA
opposing the rule.
Signers of the letter assert, "The
Department of Justice shares our position that legitimate
hemp food products are safe and legal under current
law." They cite a letter sent to the DEA Administrator
dated March 23, 2000, from the Chief of the Narcotic
and Dangerous Drug Section of the U.S. Department of
Justice, which concluded that the CSA is clear in allowing
for the importation of hemp products. (Visit http://www.VoteHemp.com/legal_cases_DEA.html
to review the letter and other documents related to
Hemp seed has a well-balanced protein
content and the highest content of essential fatty acids
(EFAs) of any oil in nature: EFAs are the "good
fats" that, like vitamins, the body does not produce
and must eat. Dr.
Udo Erasmus, an internationally-recognized nutritional
authority on fats and oils, writes in Fats that
Heal — Fats that Kill: "Hemp seed oil
may be nature's most perfectly balanced oil." Not
surprisingly, shelled hemp seed and oil are increasingly
used in natural food products, such as corn chips, nutrition
bars, hummus, nondairy milks, breads and cereals.
In the last few years, the hemp foods
industry has grown from less than $1 million a year
to over $5 million in retail sales. Companies who ship
hemp seed and oil to the U.S. market do not detect any
THC in their products, and intend along with major U.S.
manufacturers and natural market retail chains to continue
to sell hemp foods after March 18th.
For more information, or to arrange interviews
with representatives of the hemp industry, please call
Adam Eidinger at 202-986-6186.