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For Immediate Release
March 7, 2002

Contact Adam Eidinger / Mintwood Media at (202) 986-6186

DEA Rule on Hemp Food Stirs Congressional Critics
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 Nadler (D-NY).
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 the case.)

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.

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