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For Immediate Release
April 22, 2003

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

DEA Employees Take Hemp Food
Taste Test in 65 Cities

Americans 'Just Say No' to DEA Attempts to Ban Hemp Food Products

ARLINGTON, VA — DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION HEADQUARTERS Hemp enthusiasts gave away hemp food products at Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) offices in 65 cities today to protest attempts by the federal government to ban the increasingly popular food. Vote Hemp organized the "DEA Hemp Food Taste Tests" on the day a new "Final Rule" was supposed to take effect. The rule would have banned human consumption of hemp foods sold in thousands of stores. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the rule last week when they granted a stay of the ban at the request of about 250 U.S. and Canadian hemp companies who have filed suit against the DEA.

Initial reports from Taste Tests around the country confirm that skeptical DEA employees tried samples of hemp pretzels served with hemp mustard, along with hemp energy bars, hemp butter, toasted hemp seed to name a few items. One employee at DEA headquarters in Arlington, VA commented, "mmm, that's good stuff." Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp says, "We gave DEA employees a chance to taste what they would have been missing if their ban succeeded. They need to know there is nothing dangerous or deceptive about hemp food. Trying to ban hemp foods is as ridiculous as a ban on poppy seeds because they contain trace amounts of opiates or banning orange juice because it contains alcohol."

Hemp seed has a well-balanced protein content and the highest amount of essential fatty acids (EFAs) of any oil in nature: EFAs are the "good fats" that, like vitamins, the body does not produce and requires for good health. 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, frozen waffles, nutrition bars, hummus, nondairy milks, breads and cereals. In the last few years, the hemp foods industry has grown from less than $1 million to over $6 million in annual retail sales.

The new "Final Rule," issued on March 21, 2003, is virtually identical to an "Interpretive Rule" issued on October 9, 2001 that never went into effect because of a Ninth Circuit Stay issued on March 7, 2002. On March 28, 2003 the Hemp Industries Association (HIA), as well as the Organic Consumers Association petitioned the Ninth Circuit to once again prevent the DEA from ending the legal sale of hemp seed and oil products in the U.S. Hemp advocates say that the public and Congress need to hear from outraged citizens.

The DEA's previous attempts to ban hemp foods prompted a major public outcry. Over 115,000 public comments were submitted to the DEA against their new rules. In 2002, 25 members of Congress wrote the DEA telling the agency that their "Interpretive Rule" that attempts to ban edible hemp seed or oil products containing "any THC" is "overly restrictive."

North American hemp food companies voluntarily observe reasonable THC limits similar to those adopted by European nations as well as Canada and Australia. These limits protect consumers with a wide margin of safety from any psychoactive effects or workplace drug-testing interference (see hemp industry standards regarding trace THC at http://www.testpledge.com). The DEA has hypocritically not targeted food manufacturers for using poppy seeds (in bagels and muffins, for example) even though they contain far higher levels of trace opiates. The recently-revived global hemp market, with retail sales of over $250 million worldwide, is a thriving commercial success. Unfortunately, because the DEA's Drug War paranoia has confused non-psychoactive industrial hemp varieties of cannabis with psychoactive "marihuana" varieties, the U.S. is the only major industrialized nation to prohibit the growing of industrial hemp.

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.

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