Court Blocks Hemp Food Ban

| April 28, 2003

A San Francisco appeals court on April 17 blocked the DEA from implementing a ban on hemp food products. In a press release on, the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) hailed the temporary stay as a major victory. The ban, known as the ?Final Rule,? had been slated to go into effect April 21 and would have prohibited the sale of hemp foods and hemp seed oil imported for manufacturing soaps and cosmetics because they contain trace amounts of naturally occurring THC. It was identical to an earlier ?Interpretive Rule? issued by the agency in October, 2001, which the same appeals court blocked in March, 2002.

?Because trace infinitesimal THC in hemp seed is non-psychoactive and insignificant, the U.S. Congress exempted non-viable hemp seed and oil from control under the [Controlled Substances Act], just as Congress exempted poppy seeds from the CSA, although they contain trace opiates otherwise subject to control,? the HIA statement noted.

The court?s stay gives the HIA, a trade group for the small but growing hemp food and body care products industry, another six months to prepare before its legal challenge to the DEA?s proposed rule change goes to trial in October. ?With this stay in effect,? said Joe Sandler, counsel for the HIA, ?all those who sell, import, manufacture, distribute and retail edible hemp oil and seed, and oil and seed products can continue those activities secure in the knowledge that such products remain perfectly lawful.?

Hemp seeds have long been hailed for their nutritional value, particularly as a source of protein content and essential fatty acids, sometimes called the ?good fats.? Dr. Udo Erasmus, an internationally recognized nutritional authority on fats and oils, has called hemp seed oil ?nature?s most perfectly balanced oil.?

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