For Immediate Release
June 30, 2003
Contact Zoe Mitchell or Adam Eidinger
Mintwood Media at (202) 986-6186
Court Invalidates DEA Interpretive
on Hemp Foods
DEA Rule "Legislative" and "Inconsistent
with THC Regulation"
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — U.S.
COURT of APPEALS for the NINTH CIRCUIT —
Industries Association (HIA), member food and body
care companies, and their customers applauded a decision
issued today by the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco,
invalidating the Drug Enforcement Administration's October
2001 "Interpretive Rule" that would have construed
the Controlled Substances Act to ban edible hemp seed,
oil and oil and seed products.
Writing for the majority opinion, Judge
Betty Fletcher said, "Because the DEA rule is inconsistent
with the THC regulation at the time of promulgation,
it is a procedurally invalid legislative rule, not an
interpretive rule. The petition requesting that we declare
the rule to be invalid and unenforceable is granted."
To download a PDF copy of the opinion, see http://www.votehemp.com/PDF/HIAvDEA_9th_opinion.pdf.
"This is great news, but because
the court narrowly declared the DEA 'Interpretive Rule'
invalid on procedural grounds, hemp food remains in
legal limbo until the court decides on the industry's
challenge to the DEA's 'Final Rule' which is virtually
identical to the 'Interpretive Rule,'" said Eric
Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp, a non-profit organization
dedicated to the acceptance of and free market for industrial
"However, today's court ruling not
only ensures hemp foods will continue to be legally
available to consumers in the meantime, but also strikes
a major blow to the ultimate validity of DEA's Final
Rule," added Steenstra.
On March 28, 2003 the HIA, several hemp
food and cosmetic manufacturers and the Organic
Consumers Association filed a brief
in the Ninth Circuit asking for a review of the
Drug Enforcement Administration's "Final Rule"
regarding hemp foods. If this new "Final Rule"
were to take effect, it would ban hemp seed and oil
and consequently destroy the multimillion-dollar hemp
food industry. Due to a Court
ordered Stay, hemp foods remain perfectly legal
to import, sell and consume while the Court hears arguments
from the HIA and DEA and renders a decision.
The HIA brief charges that the DEA's "Final
Rule" should be invalidated because the agency
is exercising arbitrary and capricious authority by
attempting to outlaw hemp seed and oil without holding
formal hearings on the issue or finding any potential
for abuse. Because trace infinitesimal THC in hemp seed
is non-psychoactive and insignificant, Congress exempted
non-viable hemp seed and oil from control under the
Controlled Substances Act (CSA), just as Congress exempted
poppy seeds from the CSA, although they contain trace
opiates otherwise subject to control. The brief also
charges that the DEA acted in an arbitrary and capricious
manner in exempting hemp seed mixed with animal feed,
although Congress made no such distinction in the CSA.
Additionally, the brief elucidates other
major failures by the DEA — namely, the lack of
hearings on this issue and the failure to comply with
the Regulatory Flexibility Act, which requires assessing
effects of the proposed change on small businesses.
The brief is available as a PDF at:
Final Legal Schedule in Hemp Food
• July 24, 2003: Deadline for
the DEA’s response to HIA brief.
• August 8, 2003: Deadline for
the HIA’s reply to DEA’s response.
• September 17, 2003: Oral Arguments
begin in San Francisco.
• ???: Final Ruling expected
late 2003, or early 2004.
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 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.