US threatening to close borders for hemp products
Canadian hemp sales
to U.S. shaken
Saskatoon Western Producer
Canada is once again in jeopardy of losing its biggest market
for hemp oil.
Drug Enforcement Administration has issued its "final
rules" on cannabis products that prohibits human consumption
of food containing any amount of tetrahydrocannabinois,
regulations limit THC content in hemp to 10 parts per
million, but that isn't low enough to satisfy the DEA.
If it went
unchecked, the agency's zero tolerance policy would close
the border for hemp products destined for American food
and beverage markets by April 21, 2003.
But all is
The DEA issued
a similar edict on Oct. 9, 2001, that never went into
effect because the hemp industry won a United States Court
of Appeals stay on March 7, 2002.
duking it out in court, the DEA "sidestepped" the process
and issued a new rule governing cannabis products, said
Arthur Hanks, general manager of the Saskatchewan Hemp
stay basically is irrelevant because there is a new rule
on the table," he said.
of hemp importers and exporters are in the process of
requesting a second stay to combat the new final rules.
Hanks fully expects the U.S. Court of Appeals to grant
another stay, but in the meantime the trading atmosphere
going to be working in a grey area again," he said.
a comfortable situation. We're looking at this going,
'is this going to be happening every year?' It grinds
farmers seeded 3,800 acres of hemp in 2002 and harvested
about two million pounds of the crop. Hanks estimates
half of that will end up in the U.S., where there is no
commercial hemp production, and the other half will be
market is the segment of the hemp industry with the best
margins, worth an estimated $10 million. Hemp-based cosmetics
is a larger volume sector with annual sales of two or
three times that amount.
products are exempted under the new DEA rules, but Hanks
worries that cosmetics could be caught in the crossfire.
sending hemp oil over the border, how does the DEA agent
know it's going for cosmetics or not?"
He said the
new rules give DEA officials too much discretionary power.
"It may force
cosmetic manufacturers to relocate to Canada or to shut
down," Hanks said.
has caused hemp plantings to plummet from 34,000 acres
in 1999 to a little more than one-tenth that amount in
2002. But Hanks encouraged interested growers to seriously
consider planting a small crop of 10-20 acres in 2003.
"It's a good
risk to take if you can afford to take risk," he said,
because the industry has gone from a state of overproduction
not meeting our current demand right now so there's a
good reason to be planting hemp this year."
confident the ambiguity south of the border will be cleared
up once the industry secures another stay from the courts.
He said there
is a groundswell of support for hemp products in the U.S.
that includes a new recruit, the powerful Organic Consumers
troop strength," Hanks said.
American politicians are currently preoccupied by troops
of a different kind.