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For Immediate Release
September 29, 2003

Contact Zoe Mitchell or Adam Eidinger of
Mintwood Media at (202) 986-6186

Hemp Food Industry Predicts Major Victory
in Federal Court

Judge to DEA: ‘Can you tell me how
you are going to save the [poppy seed] bagel?’

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — U.S. COURT of APPEALS for the NINTH CIRCUIT — The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), representing over 200 hemp companies in North America, is predicting victory in a major legal battle to prevent the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from banning nutritious hemp foods such as waffles, bread, cereal and snack bars. A decision in HIA v. DEA is expected within six months. “Retailers and manufacturers of hemp foods should be confident that we will win this case,” says David Bronner, a board member of both the HIA and Vote Hemp, and Chair of the HIA Food and Oil Committee. “The three judge panel seemed in agreement over our main argument that the DEA’s ‘Final Rule’ ignores Congress’ specific exemption in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) under the definition of marihuana that excludes hemp seed and stalk from control. Based on the questions posed to the DEA, it appears the court reasonably views trace insignificant amounts of THC in hemp seed in the same way as it sees trace amounts of opiates in poppy seeds,” says Bronner.

During the final oral arguments held in San Francisco on September 17, 2003, the HIA argued that the DEA’s “Final Rule” banning nutritious hemp foods misinterprets the CSA. While the Court challenged HIA attorney Joe Sandler over how the DEA could or could not control a hypothetical plant containing trace THC in the Amazon rainforest, the judges were completely unconvinced by DEA attorney Daniel Dormont’s arguments that Congress did not exempt hemp seed from the CSA even if the seed contains tiny insignificant amounts of naturally-occurring THC.

According to the hearing transcript available at http://www.votehemp.com/PDF/Oral_Arguments_HIAvDEA.pdf, Dormont was read back the section of the CSA dealing with the hemp seed exemption on three occasions by Judge Alex Kozinski. By the third occasion, a frustrated Kozinski stated “… I tried to say it once before. What this tells me is Congress knew full well that stalks and seeds and fiber could be carriers of some level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). They were aware of that. Nevertheless, it said unless you do the extracting part they are not marihuana under the definition. That is what it says to me.” Near the end of the DEA’s arguments, Judge Kozinski asked Dormont “Can you tell me how you are going to save the [poppy seed] bagel?” The question drew laughter from the packed courtroom, but is a serious issue considering that the irrational logic behind the DEA’s attempted hemp food ban could easily be applied to poppy seed bagels.

Even the DEA acknowledged that hemp foods have no abuse potential, stating “The concern of the Drug Enforcement Administration isn't particularized to the particular products that these Petitioners make. The DEA has never said, has never focused on the particular products and said anyone can get high from them, or that they pose a harm to people.” In regards to widespread outrage over the DEA’s “Final Rule” 115,000 public comments and a letter from Congress co-signed by 22 Representatives submitted to DEA opposed to the hemp food ban Chief Judge Mary Schroeder asked the DEA: “Did you take into account the objections of people who might say that this doesn't make a lot of sense?” Dormont admitted the rule “wasn’t popular.”

Due to a Court-ordered stay of the DEA’s “Final Rule,” hemp foods remain perfectly legal to import, sell and consume while the Court considers arguments and renders a decision. “A positive decision by the Court will dramatically improve the demand for hemp foods due to hemp seed’s phenomenal omega-3 content and well-balanced protein,” says Bronner. The DEA’s “Final Rule,” issued on March 21, 2003, is virtually identical to an “Interpretive Rule” issued by the DEA on October 9, 2001 that never went into effect because of a Ninth Circuit stay issued on March 7, 2002. The hemp industry won a major victory against the DEA on June 30, 2003 when the Ninth Circuit permanently invalidated the “Interpretative Rule.” On March 28, 2003 the HIA petitioned the Ninth Circuit to again prevent the DEA from ending the legal sale of hemp seed and oil products in the U.S., and on April 16, 2003 the Ninth Circuit issued a stay of the DEA’s “Final Rule.”

U.S. 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 workplace drug-testing interference (see hemp industry standards regarding trace THC at 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.

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